Put Your Feet in the Dirt, Girl
By Sonia Henry
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The bestselling author of Going Under recounts her real-life journey from hard-partying Sydney medical intern to dust-covered rural GP. Solo GP needed for medical clinic, mining town in Pilbara region, Western Australia. Car and accommodation provided. On call paid extra. Close proximity to absolutely nothing. Going Under, Sonia Henry's autobiographical novel about the stresses and failures and triumphs of a young doctor struggling to find herself in a broken system was published in 2019. In real life, Sonia was the one having the affair with the older heart surgeon, and in real life, her heart ended up broken. Sonia found herself depressed, confused, with the guy owned the bottle-o on the corner of Darlinghurst road as her surrogate counsellor. She knew one thing: she couldn't keep living in the neighbourhood she'd come to think of as 'theirs'. Desperate to escape, she answered an ad calling for a GP in a tiny mining town in the middle of the western Australian desert. The Pilbara is home to iron ore, the ten deadliest snakes in the world, and red dirt. The plan was to stay for one month, instead she ended up on a cross country journey into the core of Australia, and herself. She would spend the next two years working in some of the remotest parts of the country, where she met an eclectic bunch of patients and friends, and also opened her eyes to the truths, both good and bad, of the country she calls home. Before she knew it, Sonia had gone from being a dressed-to-the-nines Sydney party girl to a red dust-covered, RM-wearing bushie - and loving it. From learning how to shoot in the middle of the desert, to living in places where there are more crocodiles than people, to opal mines, rivers, horrendous health inequities, dongas in the middle of the northern territory, and pearl divers, there isn't a part of Australia that she hasn't experienced.