They sometimes came with their wives or family and probably brought their collection of gallipots, lancets and other instruments with them. They sought Government employment or set up their own private practice and also established farms, vineyards and grazing properties. They were perhaps attracted to the colony hoping for economic prosperity, as were other immigrants.
Medical practitioners were often required to deal with the results of violent altercations and horrific accidents. Although advances in medical knowledge regarding disease and anatomy had been made by the 19th Century, effective treatments were not always available and there were no antibiotics. Doctors performed operations and post mortems. They treated the severe burns of children who had ventured too close to the open fires or pulled boiling kettles of water onto themselves. They tended injured bullock drivers who had fallen under drays and they patched up victims of assault. Until the mid 1840s they operated without anaesthetic and surgery was undertaken as a last resort.
A common treatment for many ailments was bleeding. Apothecaries in Maitland occasionally advertised to buy leeches and honey for treatments. Digitalis was given for heart treatment, opiates for pain; calomel as a purgative and aloes to treat chest complaints. They contributed to learning and politics and to the entertainment and cultural life in the colony. John Stewart and Richard Bowker gave lectures at the Mechanics Institutes. Others helped organise Race Days or special events. Alfred Edye joined others in planning for the visit of the Governor in 1847.
They often gave their services freely - David Stolworthy and Adoniah Vallack worked on the committee of the Singleton Benevolent Society as well as offering assistance and advice to the Society's patients. Michael McCartney stayed constantly at the bedside of patient William Harper for several days after Harper had been gored by a cow. The above services were given freely, however when the Medical Witness Bill was passed it ensured that adequate remuneration for attendance at inquests and on trials was provided, although heavy penalties were attached to the refusal or neglect to attend when properly summoned.
In 1845 several members of the Medical Profession considered it was desirable to establish a Medical Society in the Hunter Valley and George Brooks issued a notice to that effect. In September of that year a meeting was held at Mrs. Muir's Hotel at East Maitland during the Criminal Court Sessions to form an Association for the 'diffusion of knowledge and the regulation of professionals business'
Medical practitioners were as vulnerable as any other settlers of the district - their farms suffered drought and flood, their young children died, their servants absconded and some, becoming insolvent in the depression of the 1840's, lost all but their surgical instruments. Dr. Mallon was more fortunate than others in 1843 as he was allowed to retain household furniture as well as his surgical instrument. All else was apparently lost to him.