Melioidosis is an infection with the bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, previously known as Pseudomonas pseudomallei until the mid-1990s. It is an environmental organism found in soils and water across the Top End of Australia and in Asia. ‘It is in the dirt and you can’t kill it with a big stick’ (memories of a doctor’s introduction to melioidosis in the Torres Strait). B. pseudomallei is characteristically resistant to penicillin, ampicillin, first and second generation cephalosporins, gentamicin, tobramycin, and streptomycin. Until new therapies recently became available it was the commonest cause of fatal community-acquired bacteremic pneumonia at Royal Darwin Hospital (and possibly also Katherine and Gove Hospitals). In 2000 (an unusually wet year) there were two cases in Central Australia.