Meet Our Team


Julie joins Balaclava Veterinary Surgery as Lead Veterinarian after 28 years of private and University cat and dog general practice in California.  She owned a practice in Northern California just east of San Francisco for 10 years then left for the University of California, Davis' School of Veterinary Medicine to mentor fourth year veterinary students in the foundational skills of history-taking, physical examination and communication skills. After eight years there Julie wanted water and sunshine and a tad less stress and is quite sure she's found it here in tropical North Queensland.

Julie and her husband are planning adventures for her off time, although she'd be the first to tell you Australian veterinary medicine is already an adventure!


Mihai Csatai - Veterinarian

Mihai (pronounced Mee-hi) brings with him a wealth of experience. He has previously worked in the veterinary critical care and emergency field and has a high level of medical and surgical knowledge. He graduated in Romania in 1998 and after practicing for three years on small and zoo animals, he moved to New Zealand. During his ten year stay there, he broadened his knowledge and specialised in emergency and critical care.

Since moving to Australia, Mihai has obtained the status of being a Member of Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Specialists in emergency and critical care. This is the step before becoming a specialist.

Mihai moved to Cairns in 2015 with his partner. He is currently sharing his time between both Hands on Healing and Balaclava Vets. He is enjoying the challenges of working and living in the tropics and is dedicated to offering the best treatment to all of our clients and their pets.


Akihiro Matsui - Veterinarian

Akihiro joined Balaclava Vet Surgery in May 2016. Originally from Tokyo, Japan, he moved to Gold Coast, Australia when he was 12 years old after meeting with beautiful people and wildlife while he was travelling around Australia with his family. He completed his undergraduate degree in Veterinary Bioscience, and went on to earn his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Adelaide. By the time of graduation he missed good-old tropical atmosphere which led him to fly back to QLD.

Akihiro has a golden retriever named Chance and a three-legged cat, who was carried in to Balaclava vet surgery as a stray cat after getting hit by a car, named Taiga. He is also an exotic animal enthusiast, in which his 3 snakes and over 20 aquarium tanks keeps him busy during his free time.

Marianne Schafer - Practice Manager

Marianne has been employed at the Balaclava Vet Surgery since 1998. She completed her Certificate IV in Veterinary Nurse in 2002. Marianne has 3 children and they are entertained by a very happy Bull Terrier named Lottie who is the clown of the house and is very spoilt!  

In her spare time Marianne loves to travel and is always planning her next adventure around the world.

Talia Place - Veterinary Nurse

Talia started her career in veterinary nursing in 2013 with Redlynch Valley Vets where she began as a trainee nurse.  She then joined our team at Balaclava Veterinary Surgery in early 2016 and loves the variety of work that the nurses undertake in our clinic.

Talia's passion for animals and wildlife evolved into a career back in 2004 when she worked as a wildlife keeper in a local zoo.  There she specialized in native Australian reptiles including lizards, crocodiles and our highly venomous species of snake.

At home, Talia's life is equally busy with three young children, a dog named Loki and two cats named Marshmello and Bruno.


Courtney Audas - Veterinary Nurse

Courtney has been a part of the Balaclava Veterinary team since 2010 starting out as a work experience student. She completed her Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing in 2017 and became a full time qualified Veterinary Nurse. Courtney has a strong passion for animals and loves all types of work in the veterinary field but has a specific interest in dentistry, wildlife and neonatal care of animals.

Outside of work Courtney loves adventuring and being involved with her blue heeler cattle dog called Jack and her chestnut thoroughbred horse called Scooby.


Angela Pradal - Veterinary Nurse

Angela joined Balaclava Veterinary Surgery in 2013, previously working as a medical receptionist for 20 years at a doctor’s surgery. Being a Veterinary Nurse was a passion to be achieved for her where age had no barriers. Angela is almost at the end of completing her Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing and has a keen interest in increasing her knowledge in animal behaviour to help clients to achieve a happy and healthy relationship with their pet. She runs the puppy classes which are fun and provide a wealth of information for the clients.

After work Angela's time is taken up with her menagerie which include two dogs, Matilda and Max, Napoleon the goose, as well as ducks and chickens.