Back Roads Screens on Monday 24 January, 8pm on ABC TV and ABC iview
Episode 4 Boulia, Queensland
"Pitta Pitta Country"
What is it that draws people to the Western Queensland town of Boulia on the edge of the Simpson Desert and keeps them there? Young doctors and nurses are getting a taste of outback life while helping build Australia’s future health workforce.
As you drive into the Western Queensland town a sign greets you “Welcome to Boulia Shire. Land of the Min Min Light.” But locals warn, don’t go searching for the Min Min Light, let it find you.
Stories of mysterious lights appearing in the night skies are part of the folklore out here, from the Dreamtime to modern day travellers.
Heather Ewart finds there are many other surprises in this tiny town on the edge of the Simpson Desert about 1700 km from Brisbane.
Explorers Burke and Wills might have camped on the town’s river in 1861 on their ill-fated expedition to the Gulf of Carpentaria but Boulia is now luring a new generation of adventurers; medical, health and nursing students.
Students from around Australia are welcomed with open arms by the population of less than 500 people. Hundreds of students have worked out of the Boulia Medical Centre over the years, inspiring a future generation of health professionals to work in remote Australia, according to Boulia Mayor Rick Britton, a fifth -generation cattle grazier.
Like in so many remote towns, the weekly visit by the Royal Flying Doctor Service is crucial to Boulia, where about half of the population are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
Back Roads visits on a busy day, when second-year nursing student Louise Stuart- Russell and final year Canadian medical student Menno Glas are working closely with the RFDS doctors and health staff who have arrived in town.
Louise Stuart-Russell has only been in Boulia for two weeks but is already known around town by the locals. Despite being ‘thrown in the deep end’ when she arrived, Louise says she would love to come back and work in remote Australia.
If the students time their placements at the medical centre right, they will be in town for the biggest annual event, the Boulia Camel Cup, known to locals as the ‘Melbourne Cup of Camel Racing’.
It was an extra special event in 2021, after the Cup in 2020 had to be cancelled due to Covid-19.
Executive Producer and Story Producer: Brigid Donovan