After more than 60 years of providing dental services for the Cloncurry community, the drill has been hung up, and the old Cloncurry dental clinic has closed down for good.
North West Hospital and Health Service dentist, Dr Travis Blood says while he and his team were sad to work in the old dental clinic for the last time, they are looking forward to beginning work in the new Cloncurry dental clinic in the Alan Ticehurst Building, situated on Uhr Street.
Dr Blood has been providing dental services in Cloncurry for around 11 years and said there were many stories associated with the old dental clinic.
“Over the years, many residents of Cloncurry have recounted being treated in the Sheaffe Street dental clinic as a kid, decades earlier,” Dr Blood said.
“They remember its prior location on the corner of King Street.
“And some even remember the old railway dental service from the coast that served Cloncurry and that went as far as Kajabbi and Dobbyn before the railway line closed to those mining towns.”
Dr Blood said the walls of the building held many great – though perhaps frightening – stories of how people managed their oral health back in the olden days.
“They include people using battery acid on teeth in an attempt to treat toothache in the wet season when they couldn’t get into town, and the proverbial pliers from people’s sheds used to extract their own teeth when they couldn’t access a dentist,” he said.
“I’ve had people bringing in large gold nuggets and gems to show me, and even a request to adorn a set of dentures with gems.”
The last person to ever have a dental appointment in the old dental clinic was Lenny Bell who is a member of the stolen generation group of children that walked a long way inland from the coast in the Northern Territory to escape the impending Japanese invasion during the Second World War.
Dr Blood said it was likely that Mr Bell would be among the first patients when the new dental clinic opens in February.
The Queensland government allocated $909,000 in the 2016 budget to refurbish the Alan Ticehurst Building to develop a new community health and dental surgery for Cloncurry.
Currently these facilities occupy three aging buildings in both Sheaffe and Daintree Sts.