The joys of travelling

flying across the desert
Another trip into the unknown...this time another tropical island a bit further east...or is it west? My sense of geography is a bit sketchy at the best of times....Warruwi community on Goulburn island.
I got the job offer just last week right in the middle of relationship..well, difficulties is the best way of putting it I guess...
New relationships in your mid 40's are challenging it seems. And since I am not at all stubborn, or set in my ways, OR high maintenance thank you very much, and neither is he, a short trip away to work in another remote clinic for a week sounded like a good idea....
So I simply said yes without asking any real details, and here I am.
It took 3 days to get here. One to get to Brisbane by car and stay in a hotel overnight and continue the “relationship discussion” while catching up with my old friend Goblin who I hadn't seen in over a year, which was awesome! He agreed that relationships at our ages are complicated, and we all went out for dinner at Sizzlers, which unlike us doesn't seem to have aged gracefully and was far shabbier than I remembered it.
One to travel to Darwin, one to travel from Darwin out to the island on a dinky little plane.
fans waiting for the cricket team in Alice Springs
The flight to Darwin took a long time. Because for some unknown reason, the agencies booking service had booked a flight that went via Alice Springs. Which turned out to be at least vaguely amusing cos the English cricket team was on board. I had no idea who they were and had to be enlightened by the elderly country gentleman sitting next to me as to why the plane was full of these strangely pale but very fit and good looking muscled men.
It seems that Pommies really don't have much in the way of a sense of humor, as when one young lad cheerily yelled out “Nice Century mate!” to one of them as he walked down the plane isle, he turned round and snarled “Thanks Arsehole!”. Everyone but me laughed, so I guess it must be some inside sporting joke...I really must learn the rules of cricket some day.
Anyway, after 5.5 hours flight, plus a few hours at either end and in the airport at Alice Springs, I got to the hotel and headed up to my apartment on the 17 th floor. The fire alarm went off at floor 10, but both me and the other lady in the lift decided we were too bloody tired to care and just ignored it, figuring they'd let us know if it was really serious.
front R is a dehumidifyier!! Muggy!!!!
When I went down again half an hour later to see if any of the shops were still open, 2 smoke stained fireys got in when I got out of the lift, so I guess it must have been real after all.
Anyway, it was all sorted when I crawled back to the hotel, so I collapsed on the sofa of my 2 room “apartment” with 3 air conditioners and a window that wouldn't open, and discovered the tv control wouldn't work. 2 phone calls and 2 visits by the maintenance person later, I had new batteries in it, and decided to simply stay on the sofa and eat one of my cans of tuna for dinner instead of braving room service or the restaurant.
I have cans of tuna in my suitcase because I've learnt the hard way that shops on remote communities are so expensive you can end up spending everything you earn just on like most remote area nurses I've met, this time I traveled with essentials.
Views of Darwin from hotel
Twas another lonely night, alone in a strange hotel room (with bolted window). The first time you do it, it's exciting and you feel special cos after all, someones willing to pay $195 a night to put you up there and all, but after a while, I'm finding that I just long for something familiar. And my bed feels so unbearably empty at night. You can sort of see why traveling businessman will call dial a hooker, and I'm pretty sure a big part of it has little to do with sex. But I can't get my head around paying for anyone's company, even if there was a male escort agency at hand, so I chatted on the phone with friends, caught up on various soaps on tv (2 months of solar power and no tv in the complicated relationships dwelling out in the hills), and used up all the free soaps and shampoos.
After a restless night full of fearsome call outs in strange bush clinics in my dreams (not that I'm nervous or anything) I had a nice lonely breakfast in the fancy restaurant downstairs (where they even had gluten free bread!) and then went round to woolies to buy some more fresh fruit and veges to take with me. That accomplished (by dragging back an overfilled cooler bag in 40 degrees heat at 8 in the bloody morning), I headed over nice and early to the small private airport for the next leg of my journey.
Of course as soon as the taxi had left, I found out that yes, this was the right airline, but that the plane was actually chartered to a different one that of course had its hangar a few streets away. My face must have shown my joy at the manhandling my suitcase, backpack and cooler full of melons for a mile on foot, so the lad gave in and gave me a lift over in the company car.
And I arrived just on time for the plane to leave. Except of course it was delayed. So I sat outside with what I took to be some islanders waiting to get on the plane, as like them, I found the freezing air conditioned waiting room too, well, freezing. And remembered one of the other bits I find so challenging about this job. There I was a well dressed (well, clean) middle aged white woman, with a lap top. Being studiously either ignored or glanced at suspiciously by the far scruffier black people. Most of which had mobile phones they were texting on mind you. I hate feeling so conspicuous. And I hate the suspicion. I come out here to do a job that is primarily helpful, really....but I'm always a weird not quite trustworthy foreigner. Aboriginal people don't smile at white people. And they don't do small talk with them much either. And it gets very draining. When you are traveling alone, you sort of rely on a bit of friendly interaction from fellow travelers and the people around you where you go. and you simply don't get it from black people as a white person. I buried my head in a game on my laptop and tried not to worry about whether or not it was a good idea for it to be seen that I had it with me...and instead worried about what kind of manager I was going to find in the clinic this time. Would it be another mini Hitler with inferiority complexes and power issues? or maybe just someone eccentric but nice for a change...cos let's face it, normal people don't take jobs in remote clinics.


  1. It's been my experience that Aboriginal people in general, at least in more remote areas, are culturally averse to “small talk", and much more so with STRANGERS. In essence they are shy and reticent when not within their comfort zone. And less likely to engage in "small talk" overall. I don't think this is an original observation, but something fairly well known. So I wouldn't take what you perceive as lack of friendliness as especially directed at white people. (Although given their historical and current experiences, would it really be so extraordinary if ppl of European background /"white" were viewed as very high indeed on the "stranger" scale, i.e treat with extreme caution? )


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