Retiring from medical practice he may be, but well-known local doctor and musician Michael Pelmore still has much to do.
Having discovered the northern rivers as part of the counterculture in 1974, it wasn’t long before he left England and set up home in Mullumbimby.
Michael arrived with his family, April and baby son, in 1976 and joined Dr David Miller in practice at the old town clerk’s office in Mullumbimby. When David left and moved north in 1980, Michael was joined by his old mate Dr Giles Taylor with whom he trained in London. They had lived at Meadows Road, Vauxhall, and gave the name of that road to the Meadows Medical Centre.
As a key part of the local medical community since his arrival, Michael also worked at the Mullumbimby District Hospital doing inpatient, anaesthetics, obstetrics and emergency work. He delivered about 800 babies.
‘My first babies I delivered are now 41 years old.’ he smiled. ‘I suddenly realised how long I had been here when I was teaching a medical student and a patient came in with her young daughter and said to him “Dr Pelmore delivered my husband.”’
For 41 years Michael has provided continuous medical service to the local community, only finishing his hospital work when the Mullumbimby Hospital closed. He was also chair of MHAG, the group responsible for securing the Mullumbimby Hospital site to remain in community hands.
In 2014, Michael was awarded an OAM (Order of Australia Medal) for services to the community and medicine.
These services included MC work for fundraising nights, musical concerts and performing original songs in the primary schools and preschools in the local area with his alter ego Dr Maxwell Pelican. The two albums of his music for children, involving Dr Pelican, were Get Well Soon and Well, Well, Well. They melded medical themes for healthy lifestyles with catchy jingles. Michael won three Dolphin awards for them. The concerts provided a lot of fun for the children.
In his retirement Michael intends to keep playing music with his dear friend John Bushelle. He is also hoping to write more songs for their band, which is aptly named It’s Probably Us.
‘It’s a great pleasure playing music. That’s what life is all about – making people happy,’ he smiled.
Dr Peter Bowles has been a longtime partner and co-founder of the Meadows Medical Centre. He said, ‘We’ve worked together for thirty-one years and it has been an absolute pleasure to work with him’, said Peter.
Michael is planning to enjoy his retirement travelling, gardening, kayaking, cycling, playing music and, he hopes, writing some more Dr Pelican songs for his three young grandchildren.
After all, Dr Pelican is the one of the last of the bulk billers! ‘It’s been a privilege living here in Mullumbimby and a wonderful evolution and honour getting to know so many families over four decades’.
‘It is an eclectic, diverse and of course eccentric community. Quite special in a Mullumbimby sort of way. Long may it continue to thrive.’