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Central Australia!

Hello! G’Day! Howzitgarn? Please accept my many apologies for such a long absence between blog entries! I am sitting at a cafe called Red Dog cafe in the Todd Street Mall in Alice Springs. The weather has been really weird the past few days with drizzle, a few thunderstorms and rain! But let’s start back to when we were in Darwin!

We arrived in Darwin on the 10th October. My graduation ceremony for my Bachelor of Nursing was held on 12th October at the Darwin Convention Centre. I have to say, Charles Darwin University really made it a very special event for everyone and I felt so proud to be amongst a group of students who had made so many sacrifices and worked so hard to be there in their gowns and mortarboards.

I wore my beads made by a lady in the remote Aboriginal community of Canteen Creek. It was a reminder and a symbol of where I had come from, where I want to be and the people I want to serve and care for as a nurse.

The two parts I felt teary were when the doctors were given their degrees and called ‘Dr’ for the first time and when the people were receiving their Certificates; the tradesmen who had taken time off work, still dressed in their work boots, shorts and hi-vis shirts wrapped in a black gown and looking so proud of themselves. The people who had worked hard to learn English as their second, or third, or fourth language. The one and only recipient, a female, who had gained her certificate in metal fabricating!

Everyone receiving their qualifications on that day were from different socio-economic backgrounds, different families, different abilities but everyone had achieved what they set out to achieve regardless of whether it was a Certificate 1 or a doctorate. We were all in the same big room shaking the hand of the university Chancellor and feeling really damn proud of ourselves and each other.

My Mum came all the way up to Darwin from Albany and along with Tim, my brother Simon (who lives in Darwin) rearranged his work to be there to see me accept my degree; even though that meant he had to work longer to make up the time. I was so thrilled and proud to have them there with me on that day and very thankful they were able to come. I looked up at them after I accepted my degree and saw all three looking down at me with pride; an amazing feeling.

It was a long arduous journey to get my Bachelor of Nursing degree. There were many sleepless nights full of anxiety and self-deprecation. Mornings of clinical placements where I was in tears and wishing I had never started studying! But I had immense support from family and friends and I am now at the beginning of my next journey.

Last year, when I was up in Darwin for my clinical training block, I stayed with my brother and his family and made a promise to my sister-in-law that once Tim and I got to Darwin for my graduation ceremony (what seemed like a looooong way away!) we would sip champagne and laugh about how stressed out I was! So Katie, Tim, Mum and I floated around in their swimming pool, sipping champagne and I couldn’t believe I was finished!!

I wish I could say the rest of our stay in Darwin was as fabulous, however over the course of a few days I developed a tickling cough and on the Sunday, put myself to bed just after lunch where the cough quickly escalated into a raging fever, headaches and general malaise. I was as sick as a dog for days and couldn’t leave the granny flat bedroom where we were staying. Tim caught it off me and a few days later developed the same miserable symptoms. We both were in quarantine for just under a week until we felt slightly better to emerge and plan our trip down to Alice Springs! It was the worst flu-type illness I remember having and we were both feeling extremely worse for wear!

I bought a car in Darwin so on Friday 19th October, Tim and I planned to drive to Mataranka then Tennant Creek then Alice Springs. And that we did. Dosing up on Sudafed and cough mixture, we made the long journey to these destinations, stayed one night to rest then back on the road. We didn’t visit any attractions, focussing our energy on keeping alert while driving to each stop-over!

We arrived in Alice Springs on the Sunday and checked into the best caravan park in the town. ‘G’Day Mate’ Caravan Park is lovely and we had a grassy area with an en-suite bathroom – luxury! The swimming pool was large and clean so we floated around in it to escape the heat. Before long we were joined by a few people who live at the caravan park, 2 of them nurses! One was even a mental health nurse! So we had a lot to chat about and in true territorian fashion, they were quick to invite Tim and I on their social occasions and welcomed us to Central Australia. We are keeping in touch with them and hope to attend lawn bowls this Thursday!

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Unfortunately the heat was too much to bear living out of a camper trailer so Tim and I bit the bullet and checked into a furnished apartment until we can move into our little rental house early November.

I have full time work which I start this Thursday until my graduate program starts in late March. Tim is taking it easy and looking at his options for the time being!

I met a fellow graduate student last week and we chatted for hours which was lovely. Other than that, we’ve been getting paperwork ready, viewed potential rentals, a little bit of sight-seeing and generally settling into a new city!

I’m looking forward to making new friends here in Alice and really miss my friends back home. I guess we can sometimes take having friends around for granted and I’m really feeling it being away from everyone. But this is what happens with change and I know both Tim and I will make wonderful new friends here!

So that’s about it for where Tim and I are at! We survived travelling around WA and have made it safely to our destination of Alice Springs!

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Stay tuned and I’ll update as much as I can.

Lots of love to everyone xoxoxo

 

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Bluest of blue!

Hi! I’m writing this under our annexe overlooking the blue water of Cape Keraudren, north of Pardoo. I have never seen such turquoise blue water and we can’t wait to go swimming tomorrow! We have set up and relaxing after a week of no-so-great holidaying!

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We packed up from Shark Bay and were hoping to check in at an AirBnB in Coral Bay but alas, ’twas not to be (for the fact Coral Bay has bugger all AirBnB’s) so we decided to camp at Warroora Station. We stocked up on supplies in Carnarvon and one of my brother’s rang and suggested we visit Gnoolara Station so we set off there.

Turning right at big sign saying ‘KING WAVES KILL’, we drove the second most corrugated road we had ever driven! Arriving at the camp, we looked around in dismay at the dusty, windy, crowded campsite swarming in surfies while overlooking reefy, rough ocean. We’d come this far, it was getting dark and had to camp the night. Not happy Jan.

The place was interesting if wind surfing, surfing and whatever else is your cup of tea. But for Tim and I, give us swimmable water and beach access any day of the week. So we stayed one night listening to the howling wind batter out camper, packed up the next morning and took off like a bat out of hell. Our number plate ripped off so Tim had to tie is back on with zip ties! That’s how corrugated the road was!

The blowholes down the road were awesome and we had a look at the lighthouse and humpy camp over the other side.

Planning on camping at Warroora Station, we stopped at Milynup Roadhouse where I made the executive decision to drive straight through to Exmouth and stay in a cabin for a couple of nights to feel a bit more civilised!

Exmouth is a gorgeous town with amazing crystal beaches and so much to do. We had plans to snorkel, go on a glass bottom boat, fish and swim swim swim! However that afternoon I started to feel lethargic and achy. Over the next two days, it developed into a stomach bug where I was left with horrible abdominal cramps and … let’s just say, ‘the tummy bug stuff’. We did go for a drive to have a look around and watched the sunset one night which was beautiful. Tim went out by himself one afternoon and saw whales breaching in the ocean.

After three nights in Exmouth, I started to feel slightly more human and we set off to Miaree Pool for the night on our way to Broome. We left there this morning and are now at our current spot.

The place we are camping now is pretty quiet with beautiful views overlooking the ocean. The tide comes in and out regularly, with the next high tide due, according to our neighbours, tomorrow around 2.30pm. We’ve just had a walk down to the water with the tide out and the sand feels like that magnetic sand and really sinky! Tim and I had a race back which was hilarious with our feet sinking deep into the sand with each step!

It was nice staying in a chalet for a few nights but it’s also nice being back on the road especially in such glorious weather. And feeling well and healthy is not something I will take for granted! We have just over 3 weeks to make the trek to Darwin in time for my graduation ceremony and there is a lot we want to see on the way so getting north of Broome is something we’re keen to do. But until then, we’re just enjoying each day and night.

Tim and I get along well, most of the time. Spending 100% of our time together can wear a bit thin and we have our moments, but overall we know we’re stuck together (plus Tim says he keeps the car keys in his pocket so I don’t do a runner! haha). Snappy words are often just left to dissipate in the air rather than arguing over. Travelling and camping together, just the two of us, has taken co-existing to a different level and as much as we can irritate each other, we rely on each other, both for our skills and company. Trying times are overcome when we find somewhere that is paradise and we celebrate pushing through the annoyances of getting there.

We have both gone through the feeling of ‘gee it would be nice just being in a house for a while’ but when we spent time in the chalet, it was nice being back on the road camping under the stars and listening to all sorts of bird life, crickets, frogs and random cars driving past in the middle of the night!

I have found camping/travelling pages on Facebook really helpful and have made a couple of new friends who I will meet when we start our grad programs in Alice Springs.

One FB page of a new friend is: Seeking the Serenity – Travelling Aus which is an awesome and inspiring page of travelling! Check it out!

Keep in touch and stay posted! Love your comments and support xoxoxoxo

 

 

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Please don’t go, I love you so.

It’s crisp here in Denmark, Western Australia, a small town on the south coast. Crisp, fresh, bracing, refreshing… I am a thesaurus! I’m here by myself for a couple of days in a really cool AirBnB on a lake, with iridescent blue wrens with round little bodies skipping around just beyond the glass sliding door; so close yet so far.

How have you been? I think about you, even though I don’t know you. I wonder where you are sitting as you read this blog. Are you happy? Do you know if you are happy? If we don’t have troubles now and then, how would we know when we’re happy?

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That brings me to Anthony Bourdain. Yesterday, Friday the 8th June 2018, Anthony was found in his hotel room in France after taking his own life. Death by hanging. Anthony was a celebrated chef and food writer, featuring in foodie shows such as No Reservations, The Layover and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. He was never afraid to try what us Westerners would call ‘ugh, really weird food that I would never try in a thousand years’ or ‘I can’t believe he is putting that in his mouth!’.

When I hear about suicides, I feel a pulling gnarly feeling in my heart. My eyes start leaking and I have to look away from whatever it is I’m reading or whoever it is I’m talking to. I’m not a stranger to having suicidal thoughts or, dare I share it, an attempt. When I become aware of a suicide, I feel drawn straight back to the empty blackness that filled my being when I truly believed I was better off out of this world and maybe, in my void of rationality, being reincarnated as someone who is immune to the dark feelings.

Who wants to talk about people killing themselves? Not many, but we need to. We need to not focus on the celebrity ‘live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse’ but how to reach out, connect with someone; hold their hand, hug them, let them hear you pour out all your reasons of why you think you would be better off not here. And we can let people listen to us, nod their heads, cry with us and purge feelings we have kept suppressed for so long. Feelings that have festered and turned toxic. Feelings that have become imbedded in who we think we are and who we think the world thinks we are.

This too shall pass. 

Yes, I work in Mental Health and I am passionate about mental health. But I know people who don’t work in mental health but are just as passionate about supporting people going through a tough time. You don’t have to have a mental illness to go through shit or feel like shit or wish that shit would just get better.

I can’t sit here and write sentiments like ‘Things will get better’ or ‘You are special, the world needs you’ because although those things can be true, what good is it going to do right now? But what I can say, from my own personal experiences, not quoting anyone but myself is that it is sometimes damn hard to forge ahead, especially when you resigned yourself to being 6 foot under in a matter of days. It is damn hard but a problem shared is a problem halved, and when I reached out to a good friend, when I let her know how low I was and how I needed someone to look out for me; she did. And every day I was above ground, I worked hard at achieving small successes. I went to work even though I hated being there because I was saving to find another job; that helped. I made myself see friends, go to coffee dates and contact my family. I tried to laugh and when I tried to laugh I started laughing because my fake laugh sounded so stupid it was funny.

As I think back, 10 years ago when I was at one of the worst times of my life, I bring myself to the present; where I am now, typing this to thousands of people of whom I have never met and may never will. I’m in a good place, through hard work and determination, through times and events that I thought I’d never recover from; I’m in a good place and I’m going to stay here even if things aren’t good all the time.

The sun will come up tomorrow and you’ll be here. I’ll be here and we can be shoulders of strength to people who truly believed the sun wouldn’t come up. And we can show them it has. Because it will.

There is always someone to listen, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 if you or someone you know may need help. 13 11 14.

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Take care.

Rachel.