TIME TO RELAX: Dr Rob Tuffley hits the waves.
TIME TO RELAX: Dr Rob Tuffley hits the waves.

Gone surfin': Beloved Gympie GP trades in his stethoscope

ROB Tuffley's gone surfing, but he says he will still have some use for his stethoscope.

Gympie patients will miss him (and many are quite emotional about it) but from next month, if you want to find Dr Tuffley you had best check the surf reports.

You may find him carrying his board through Noosa National Park as he checks out his favourite point break.

And you may see him on the golf course more often.

Also locally renowned for his fishing prowess, the well-known cyclist and one-time footie player (both league and union) played cricket and somehow found time to become a father of three.

And for 35 years he has also been the highly regarded friendly face of Gympie medicine.

It was 1982 when he joined The Gympie Clinic, taking up with almost legendary colleagues Nev Wilmer, David Nimmo and Tony Cook. He hopes Gympie is as good to the clinic's new owner, Dr Matheesha Ranaweer, as it was to him.

Dr Tuffley's "thank you” list is long, headed by his wife Berni, who joined him here in 1984.

"We got incredible support, not just from the doctors in the practice, but from all the doctors in town,” he says.

"If you were away for the weekend and one of your patients needed a Caesar, they'd help.

"You always knew you had their support.

"Berni arrived with no family and no friends and the medical community was wonderful.

"It's something both of us remember fondly,” he said.

"In those days, GPs did a lot more. We delivered a lot of babies and operated every day.

The most rewarding things were delivering babies and palliative care.

They are, he agrees, the most intimate moments of anyone's life, happy and sad, the beginning and the end - all part of the enormous privilege of medicine.

He thanks sport and Rotary for many of his friends outside the profession.

"We had seven boys and one girl born to footballers in the club one year.

"I got to carry the Olympic torch in Mary Street in 2000.”

Rob and Berni have three sons, all raised in Gympie.

And sport remains in the blood.

"Tom captained the Queensland Schoolboys cricket team in primary school and the captain of New South Wales was a boy called Phillip Hughes, so I've always followed him.

"Gympie's a fantastic place to raise kids,” he said.

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