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Member Profile: Doug Johns

One-time vet Doug Johns has seen a lot of the country after nearly three decades as a Veterinarian.

Doug was born on a hot mid-summer’s day in Broken Hill on January 2, 1919.  At age 12 he was enrolled as a boarder at Yanco Agricultural High School, where he completed his secondary education. In addition to the usual curriculum, he was examined in ploughing using a furrow plough pulled by two horses. Extracurricular pursuits included learning to swim in the adjoining Murrumbidgee River.

He won a chance to study Veterinary Science at Sydney University, graduating in 1940. By this stage, World War II had commenced, and Doug enlisted in the army in 1941. He was posted to the Pack Mountain Artillery Battery in New Guinea, whose principal weapons were 3.7” Howitzers, pulled by horses.

Following the end of hostilities, he and his new bride, Joan, moved to Wagga, where Doug commenced a veterinary practice. During this period, the couple had two daughters. One became a doctor, the other a school teacher. They have given Doug and Joan five grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

In 1956, the family moved to Canberra, where Doug took up a position as a government veterinary officer. In 1963, he joined the US firm SmithKline, and for the next 20 years was employed at their research station at Cobbity on the outskirts of Sydney, developing products for health in sheep, cattle and horses.

Retirement in 1983 meant Doug and Joan acquired their first campervan and commenced their experiences as Grey Nomads. Over the next 29 years they travelled around our vast continent clocking up 460,000km on over 135 trips. When questioned on these statistics, the writer was shown a number of red covered binders containing the daily events of every trip, including the distance covered and the price of fuel!

They both loved the Australian bush and outback, and Doug claims to know every route, from the Gibb River Road in the Kimberley to Bruny Island off the South East Coast of Tasmania. Their travels extended overseas, where they explored Europe.

Joan passed away on 2012, which meant Doug sold their home at MacMasters Beach and moved into Brentwood Village.

He joined East Gosford Probus in July 1990, and after 28 years is still a regular attendee at the monthly meetings, and an active participant in the men’s discussion group.

In addition to Probus, he attends U3A classes, continues to love good music, and undertakes some shorter trips with his good friend Anne. He passed his practical driving test in 2016, and is known to offer younger ladies (in their 90s) lifts to Club meetings.