AN encounter with a brown snake near the Macquarie is one of Dr Jong Woo's clearest memories from his first stint in Bathurst.
"I was riding a pushbike and I saw something coming in front of me," the surgeon explained to the Advocate recently as he settles in to the city for a second time.
"I didn't stop and my front wheel kind of sat on the snake.
"I couldn't move. The snake was trying to bite the wheel and I was kind of shocked and frozen.
"I looked back and an older couple were walking towards me from about 30 metres away.
"I called out: 'I don't know what to do.' The couple said: 'You just stay there and slowly move backwards.'"
Dr Woo did, the snake continued on its way - it had been caught as it tried to get to the river - and the surgeon walked away from the incident without a serious injury, but with a seriously good anecdote.
"The people said it was a brown snake," he said. "I didn't even know about brown snakes and how dangerous they were.
"All the nurses [at the hospital] remember that story."
IN OTHER NEWS IN BATHURST:
Dr Woo's other clear memory from his first time in Bathurst - which explains his keenness to return - is how welcoming he found the city.
"I really enjoyed that time," he said of his six months in town as a surgical registrar from August 2014 onward. "There were so many memories and stories. I made friends, mostly hospital staff, and we've kept in touch on social media.
"It's a beautiful town: great culture; nice people, nice nature."
The qualified general surgeon is used to making big moves: after all, he came to Australia from South Korea 12 years ago.
"I was already a qualified general surgeon back home [in South Korea]," he said. "I had to start from the beginning [in Australia], as all the overseas doctors do.
"That's the reason my training was so extensive - I had to do four years as an accredited registrar, five years of a training program and another year of fellowship. So 10 years in total in Sydney."
In recent years, he was aware that the city had been looking for another surgeon.
"They interviewed probably every year and for some reason they could not find anyone willing to settle in Bathurst and become a fourth surgeon," he said.
"I kept in touch with Dr Meulman [long-time local surgeon Dr Neil Meulman] and when I finished my training last year and was doing a fellowship in Westmead Hospital as a trauma surgeon, he said the job is still open and showed me his support.
"So I applied."
Dr Woo, according to Dr Meulman, is the first addition to the general surgeon numbers at Bathurst Base Hospital in 23 years.
His addition means there are now four general surgeons providing a service to both Bathurst Base Hospital and the Bathurst Private Hospital.
Dr Woo says he has a passion for general surgery.
"Because I wanted to continue as a general surgeon, I knew there were more opportunities in the country, rather than staying in Sydney.
"I like to talk to people and I like to see people and I want to help people. A city surgeon is more closed to the patients.
"This is my dream job."
Dr Woo's three children (two of them are in high school and he was reluctant to move them) and wife, a fully qualified gynaecologist, have remained in Sydney and his schedule has been organised so he can travel back to be with them regularly.
"But I want to be part of the community and not just a visiting surgeon," he said. "I don't have any other practice anywhere else."
He said he was feeling "blessed" having returned to Bathurst.
"Every time I see a patient or I talk to people, everybody says welcome; welcome to Bathurst.
"And that's the main thing. That's why I wanted to come here. I wanted to be welcomed.
"And I know this town needed another surgeon. There was a long waiting list.
"I know we're going to be stronger than in the past.
"One more surgeon will mean we can handle more situations."