Doctor - Deer Farmer - Artist.
Dr Dawn Evans
I’ve driven for 94 kilometres through four flowing creeks, dusty, dirt roads, potholes that could swallow my little car, to reach my destination.
She drove this road for nearly 40 years practicing medicine in Caboolture?
Unassuming, totally relaxed, not fussing at the thought of an interview, Dawn sits at her rustic kitchen table loaded with sauces and paperwork. She is surrounded by the old wood stove, a gas stove, smoke stained VJ boards of the 1870’s heritage listed homestead, while some of her newest pieces of art rest against the kitchen cupboards ready to head into her ‘Artist of the Month’ showing at the Kilcoy Art Gallery forty kilometres away.
‘You put a little bit off yourself into each piece of art you do,’ she says.
After practicing medicine for more 50 years, some time in Sydney, three exciting years in England, she finally has time to devote to one of her other great passions.
She always knew she was going to be a doctor. Dawn tells of the turbulent tussle with dozens of others, to look at the results of the medical grading, until she finally saw her name on the board – her greatest achievement.
After a time working with the flying doctor service in remote areas of Queensland and fossicking for gems in far off places of Australia, Dawn thinks Monsildale is quite perfect.
She has dealt with flood and fires all around and lives off grid.
In the flying doctor service, she dispensed the drugs by the number, over the radio, from a box kept at the homestead, instead of visiting because of the distance, if it was able to be handled that way. Then Dawn did the afternoon shift at the touring clinics where a female doctor was greatly appreciated by the locals.
Dawn recalls while out on one of their first clinics, her very devoted black German shepherd dog disappeared for a couple of days. They put out a call over the air. A mother came back on radio to say Cleo was with her little four-year-old girl, and was following her, guarding her. She patrolled the base every night making sure the lights were off, gate was locked, and all was right before bed. Cleo was later baited while Dawn was on a clinic but, put on a drip for 3 days to flush the poison from her system – she survived.
Deer farming seemed to be an interesting sideline, that could work with medicine, causing Dawn and her partner to look into properties for sale. She found the Monsildale Deer Farm and they purchased it in 1984. The 600-acre property is in the heart of Queensland deer country.
‘You think it’s (deer farming) going to be much more relaxing than perhaps medicine, but in fact it wasn’t. You spend your time fixing things.’
Dawn’s medical history helps with all aspects of birthing and harvesting of the velvet on the antler of the male deer without injury to the animals. She has hand raised fawn, hand feeds the deer, patting them and loving them. Dawn’s eyes light up when speaking about the velvet.
She could tell by the size and weight of an antler the quality of velvet. The deer regrow a new set of antlers each year. This is harvested over months as deer antler grow to maturity at different rates. It is frozen, then sent off to be ground for pills or sprays for medicinal purposes.
Venison is a low-fat dark meat. It makes great pies, biltong, and sausage which Dawn sold at the Abby Medieval Festival along with antler, jewellery, scrimshaw, and leather work.
She has travelled the world extensively - as president of the Deer Industry Association of Australia – as a tourist – as a doctor.
For nearly 40 years Dawn drove that 94-kilometre trip to work then home again. She retired at 76.
‘I love the drive. I love doing what I like ... nobody (no close neighbours) to tell me what to do. Yeh... I love it.’