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September 26, 2021

Local GP Michael Pelmore retires

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A not so recent photo of Drs Deborah Tattersal, Ian Kingston, Giles Taylor, Michael Pelmore (AKA Dr Maxwell Pelican) and Peter Bowles. Centre stage is Maxwell Pelican, a statue that accompanied Dr Pelmore when he performed for local primary schools. Photo supplied.

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.

Awarded OAM

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.’

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  1. Thank goodness for people like Michael, he is a brilliant, positive force in our community. He is such a giving, talented person and his practice is still bulk billing. Good on you Michael.

    • Michael is a true gentleman, who had so much time and consideration for his patients. He will be very much missed as we enter the age of one in, one out doctoring. May you enjoy your retirement Michael, you have earned it.

  2. I remember way back when Michael (and David) were in their original clinic in the 70s. He was quickly absorbed into our community. Through an ectopic pregnancy, two babies, and years later, the death of both my parents, Michael was always supportive, absolutely respectful and always the professional family doctor and friend. I think, at the end of the day, we all look on him as a friend, most of all. I wish you all very best in your retirement, Michael. You’re an amazing man. Keep smiling that beautiful smile of yours. And yes, I did finally give up smoking!

  3. Hi Michael, How come you are retiring? You are only a young man!
    Where have the years gone?
    I was there working in the Dally Street Surgery with David when you came to work to Mullumbimby. The Surgery was between Lomaths Saddlers& next to Rummery’s Garage. Remember the fire place in the Surgery I use to light in the Winter? There was Sylvia, Louise, Jackie as the Admin. Staff & me as the Registered Nurse. Morning tea out in the back yard?
    My 7th youngest daughter was born 1977 & you gave me my 1st ever Maternity leave. Veritybis now 40 yrs old.
    Such happy memories. THANK YOU for adding so much to my life. Love Lorna Virgo. (Then Mead.)

  4. Bonjour Michael,
    Just before the COVID I went to Dai’s 70th birthday. We’re present Charles Milward, myself, Chris Turner, Robert Peel, Mike Plau, Richard Griffith and David Morgan.
    Next Roger Lewis lives down here in the south of France.
    Now all that is a little irrelevant. In fact I have followed your carrer over the years and did see that you had retired.
    All that just to wish you a Happy New Year one day early ( for us) to get rid of 2020
    Kind regards
    Edouard ((Ed)


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