Devoted to the long roads, the trails, the tracks …

Posted on 24th October 2016

Her home in an area known as Fairney View, is just a 25 minutes drive from Ipswich, but for Heart of Australia cardiac scientist/sonographer Caroline Fitzgerald, it’s just “bush” enough for her and husband Paul to keep following their passion for breeding and training Arabian horses.

It’s a passion that, for Caroline, started during pony club activities in her primary school years in Brisbane and later, while working at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, a colleague introduced her to another passion – endurance riding.

As Caroline says, “it’s a big commitment to train endurance horses … but after working all day in a little dark room, riding through delightful country” makes it all worthwhile.

For some 20 years, endurance riding has taken Caroline over most of Queensland and Australia to ride and compete over what she describes as “some fabulous country”, including through Charleville and Roma districts.
Recently, Caroline received a Distance Award recognising that she has covered more than 17,000km in endurance riding competition – so far.

Caroline met Heart of Australia founder, Dr Rolf Gomes when he started private practice in Ipswich “and heard all about the truck idea back then”. She’s now the regular sonographer on board for the Charleville and Roma rotations of the specialist medical clinic-on-wheels. As well, Caroline works in the Ipswich and Taringa rooms of Dr Gomes’ cardiology practice.

The work/life balance can be demanding – caring for and training horses, running two pre-teens children to and from schools and helping to diagnose patients on board the “Heart Truck” on long roads in the southwest, but Caroline says she “loves” her cardiology work.

She echoes the feelings of everyone in the Heart of Australia team when she says the deep appreciation of “our bush patients” for the travelling clinic is particularly meaningful.

Caroline started her medical career with a Bachelor of Human Movement Studies from the University of Queensland with Physiology as her major.

Caroline has worked as a Clinical Measurement Technician at the PA Hospital, where she also started her echocardiography training and spent time with the PA’s liver transplant team.

– Interview Peter MacDonald

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