Destination Spotlight: Northern NSW

Destination Spotlight: Northern NSW

  • June 4, 2024

The Northern NSW region is an increasingly popular destination for GPs looking to live and work in bustling regional locations with plenty to offer in terms of lifestyle, working conditions, and access to amazing landscapes, facilities and experiences.

Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Ballina, Lismore and even smaller locations in the region are home to medical practices looking to source experienced general practitioners to serve their local communities.

Northern NSW region snapshot: 

The latest census data shows the Northern NSW district’s population is estimated at 290,271, including larger local government areas such as Tweed Heads and Byron Bay.

With a mix of urban and rural environments, the region’s largest employment sector is health care and social assistance, followed by retail, education and training, hospitality and food services, construction and agriculture, and 15.3% of people are educated to (at least) bachelor’s degree level.

Located in the north-east corner of the state, the northern NSW region is a blend of coastal charm and inland beauty, with natural landscapes to explore and enjoy, as well as cities and townships, each with its own distinct and charming character.

Stretching from the city of Grafton in the south to Tweed Heads in the north, it covers over 20,000 square kilometres, and borders the state of Queensland, making the Gold Coast and the Queensland state capital of Brisbane in easy reach via road and rail links.

While popular destinations such as Byron Bay have seen soaring house prices, other cities such as Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Ballina and Lismore are still relatively affordable, with plenty of options for doctors looking to relocate to this region.

The majority of Northern NSW locations are ranked as MMM2+ locations and are eligible for vocationally registered GPs still within their moratorium, International Medical Graduates via the RACGP PEP Specialist Stream. or Australian trained doctors and IMGs under the standard pathway via one of the available GP training programs i.e. Australian General Practitioners Training Program (AGPT), RACGP Fellowship Support Program (FSP), ACRRM Rural Generalist Training Program (RGTS), ACRRM Independent Pathway (ACRRM IP) or Rural Vocational Training Scheme (RVTS).

Grafton: A thriving regional town in the Northern Rivers region of NSW, known for its rich history, natural beauty and vibrant community.

With a warm climate and lush landscapes on the banks of the Clarence River, this city is ideal for lovers of the great outdoors, with plenty of opportunities for water-based activities such as fishing, kayaking and boating.

The city is home to the Grafton Base Hospital and a number of medical centres, and has excellent facilities, and a great mix of public and independent primary and secondary schools, as well as a campus of the North Coast TAFE.

It’s famed for its stunning annual display of purple Jacaranda trees, which are celebrated every spring at the annual Jacaranda Festival. It’s an ideal location for professionals seeking a quieter pace of life.

Coffs Harbour: With a growing population, this vibrant coastal city is known for its beautiful beaches, subtropical climate and relaxed lifestyle.

The Coffs Harbour Health Campus is a major hospital servicing the region, and there are also many specialist clinics and general practices in the city.

As a regional hub, it has a range of education facilities, including private schools such as John Paul College and Bishop Druitt College, and the Southern Cross University also has a Coffs Harbour campus.

With a stunning coastline, Coffs Harbour has broad appeal to anyone who loves the outdoors, and nearby Dorrigo National Park is a highlight for bushwalkers and campers, with hiking trails, bird watching, and breathtaking waterfalls.

Lismore: A key cultural and economic centre in the region, known for its natural beauty, vibrant arts scene, and diverse community, Lismore is located about 30 minutes inland from Byron Bay.

The city is home to the major referral and acute care hospital for the Northern Rivers region, Lismore Base Hospital, along with a private hospital, St Vincent’s Hospital, to cater to a wide range of healthcare needs.

With a mix of public and private schools there are plenty of options for schooling, and Lismore is home to the main campus of the Southern Cross University and a campus of the North Coast TAFE.

Whether you’re looking for cultural treats at the Lismore Regional Gallery and the Northern Rivers Performing Arts or want to get back to nature by exploring nearby World Heritage listed rainforests, Lismore spoils for choice.

Ballina: This coastal township is known for its pristine beaches, the serene Richmond River, and beautiful natural surroundings, making it an ideal location for those who love the outdoors. Enjoy water sports, fishing, beach activities, and river adventures.

The subtropical climate ensures warm summers and mild winters, perfect for year-round exploring, and its proximity to Byron Bay and the Gold Coast make it a popular destination for holiday makers.

The Ballina District Hospital provides emergency services, palliative care and community health services, and the township relies on its GP practices for high-quality care.

As a smaller town, Ballina has less options for schools, although it’s not far to travel to highly regarded institutions in nearby city locations. People love the town for its coastal charm and community feel.

Other locations: The region also includes smaller towns such as Kygole, Mullumbimby, Murwillumbah and Brunswick Heads.

GP opportunities in Northern NSW.

The region of Northern NSW is home to a variety of medical centres, from large, corporate medical ‘health hubs’, to smaller independent family practices. The DXC Medical team have helped VR and non-VR GPs secure new positions in the area. These have included.

  • International Medical Graduates wanting to complete their GP training
  • Australian trained doctors wanting to return to their rural hometowns also wanting to complete GP training
  • VR GPs still restricted by moratorium relocating to Tweed Heads for Proximity to the Gold Coast.

Ready to take the next step?

Explore all current northern NSW GP job vacancies via our interactive map.

Get in touch with our NSW team to find out more about local opportunities.

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