Doctor Max Graffen has bid farewell to his patients and to Wagga after four decades in medicine.
The Blamey Street Surgery GP arrived in Wagga with wife Sue and their seven-month-old baby from Sydney back in 1982 to work as a resident at Wagga Base Hospital.
"I thought we would just come to the country for a year and see how it is," Dr Graffen said.
"My wife and I and our little baby arrived, loved it and ended up staying."
Forty years later, he has mixed feelings as he says goodbye to the city.
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"I can't believe it, I sat there with my last patient ever today," he said on Friday. "Put down the pen and that's it - it felt strange, just weird.
After their initial year in Wagga, the Graffen family returned to settle permanently in the city in 1989.
Dr Graffen was a GP at the Kooringal Medical Centre for more than a decade, then specialised as the region's geriatrician, and settled at Blamey Street in 2007.
From 1982 to 2021, he witnessed galloping change - from the arrival of the internet, to a global pandemic no one saw coming.
"These days I just assume everyone that sees me, sees Dr Google first," he laughed.
He drew on his trusted place in the community when he guided his patients through the fright of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Vaccination hesitancy is a big thing and it sometimes takes a while to convince people that vaccination is a good thing for them," he said.
"Having had that long relationship with my patients, they're much more trusting of what you say. That trust made a big difference."
His colleagues at Blamey Street said he leaves big shoes to fill. Fellow GP Rachel Glasson said Dr Graffen has had a huge impact both personally and professionally.
"[Max] is particularly well known for his care of older people," she said.
"When my mother was diagnosed with dementia and had to move into care, he kindly agreed to look after her and that was a really comforting experience for us all."
She said as a young GP she looked up to him for advice and guidance.
"He was a really big influence on me during my GP training ... it was marvellous to have him as a resource to learn from and to observe," she said. "He has made me the GP I am, he's been a big part of that so it's very sad to see him go."
Dr Graffen will be moving to the coast to be closer to his children and grandchildren, and thanked all of his patients as he bid the city farewell.
"To all the patients I wasn't able to say goodbye to, I really thank them for the trust and confidence they've shown in me and I wish them all the best in the future," he said.
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