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An itch to scratch

Tim is on a couch. This may seem unremarkable but it’s the first time he has been on a couch for 5 weeks and for Tim, that is a lifetime…and a half. Thanks to a person very dear to me, we are spending the night in a really nice apartment suite in Broome WA before we leave for Cape Leveque tomorrow. One of the prerequisites of booking a hotel/motel/apartment was that it HAD to have a couch, lounge, settee, sofa, a rose by any other name. For me, a microwave. Not that I’ll probably use it but it’s the things you just don’t have when camping.

Moonlight Bay Suites
Moonlight Bay Suites – A beautiful place to stay.

ANYWAY, we are in Broome WA and Broome WA has impressed us hugely. We have spent every evening swimming at Cable Beach in calm inviting turquoise water, floating around, chatting, diving under the water and constantly appreciating being here swimming when 5 weeks ago we would be working, or studying, or just still entwined with the daily grind. I’ll get back to Broome.

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We spent two nights at Cape Keraudren, a coastal reserve north of Port Hedland in East Pilbara. We camped overlooking oyster reefs where the tide came in and out twice a day. We saw a little octopus with a few missing limbs who seemed really friendly. We also loved watching the hermit crabs scuttle slowly around.

We would like to have more fond memories of Cape Keraudren but every time I look at my arms and lower thighs, I see sandfly sores, multitudes of them. We got eaten alive at Cape Keraudren! Yes, we did have Bushmans spray on but they got through the mosquito mesh of the camper trailer and attacked us as we slept. They are nasty nasty nasty little buggers! They are the itchiest itchy’s we’ve ever ever had!!

We did walk around the beach and had a beautiful swim in the water and also listened to our neighbour gently sing along with his ukulele as the sunset which was a real bonus. The view when waking up was just beautiful! So maybe Cape Keraudren wasn’t all that bad!

We aimed to get into Broome on Tuesday 18th September and were making good time until we came to Sandfire roadhouse where the rest of the highway was closed due to a bushfire. We joined truckies and other tourists who were all waiting around and hoping they could get on their way sometime soon. We sat around for a few hours but had enough so went back 40 km’s and stayed at 80 Mile Beach for the night.

Eventually we arrived in Broome and checked into Cable Beach caravan park. We’d recommend this caravan park because of the beautiful shady trees and decent size camping sites. Upon request, we were given a site directly across from the amenities. After lunching at Zander’s on Cable Beach, we went for a drive and swim at Cable Beach then back to camp.

We got our car fully checked-over and serviced as we are doing the Gibb River Road in a week so we know it’s all schmicko to go!

The weather here has been just divine, ranging around 30-33 degrees. The past couple of days Tim and I visited Malcom Douglas’ Crocodile Farm, had a game of mini golf (which I WASN’T thrashed in, like SO WASN’T beaten by over 20 points!) then wandered around Chinatown and each had a neck/head/shoulders massage. We then had a swim again at Cable Beach and went off to the Town Beach Markets yesterday evening.

This morning I was booked in for a deep tissue massage and was slightly nervous as I’ve never had a proper body massage before. The lady led me into the room, asked me to take my shoes off then pointed to the mattress on the floor. She then left me there. I took my shoes off then stood awkwardly waiting for her to come back. I felt like Mr Bean, wondering if I should take my clothes off or wait until she tells me to. The masseuse returned, looked at the mattress then at me and laughed ‘please, take off your clothes and lie down’ and scuttled out laughing and talking in Thai about the idiot client she has to massage. The massage was amazing and I felt as loose as a goose when I left, although it hurt like fuck at some points! I think I walked like Mr Bean once it was done!

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Broome has one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever encountered. It is just so chilled out and is a really nice place just to slow down and enjoy. There is so much to do during the day and in the evening. We are sad to leave but we are travellers now so must move on! Plus, I’ll apply for nursing posts here so we can enjoy it more one day!

Tomorrow we are off to Cape Leveque then will get ready to do the Gibb River Road so I’ll have some adventures to write about then!

Lots of love to you all! – Rachel xoxoxo

 

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The ocean beckons!

I’m sitting at our trusty camp table listening to the canvas of the camper trailer get tickled by the wind coming off the ocean. We are back on the coast and it feels wonderful!

We had a really nice few days in Tom Price, a nice little town which likes to have green trees and grass and plants because the residents seem to constantly have their sprinklers on, even in the dead heat of the day. The Tom Price caravan park we stayed at was brilliant. We paid $32/night for an unpowered site which was directly across from the amenities block. We chose a site with a beautiful shady tree at our door step which helped with the heat. The facilities were clean and the crystal clear swimming pool was just divine!

We did some touring, drove past the house I lived my first 4 years of life in and generally relaxed. We drove up Mt Nameless which is the highest point you can drive a car in WA at 1016m. The views were beautiful and we even tried to find a geocache hidden there but no such luck.

After spending most of our last day in Tom Price doing laundry and sorting the car, we left after three nights to go to Hamersley Gorge. We had envisioned another Wittenoom Gorge where we could meander along the gorge until we came to our own little spot but Hamersley Gorge is more like the gorges in Karijini park; you can’t camp anywhere except designated spots and then hike down to the gorge. Too touristy. So we had a look at the gorge and decided to drive to an abandoned homestead called Tambrey Station and call that home for the night.

The campsite at Tambrey Station was very dusty but flat and open with a camp fire ready to go once we found some firewood. We arrived mid-afternoon so set up and relaxed. I made spaghetti bolognaise in the camp oven which was delicious (if I do say so myself!).

The next morning we were up at 6.30am to pack up the camper before the heat kicked in. Then we walked around the ruins of the old homestead. The house was made of red mud-brick and was solid. Even the fireplace was made out of mud-brick. There was a grave on site for three people, the farmer Thomas Cusack who died aged 43, his wife Dosh who lived until she was 90 and their youngest daughter Prudence Leake who only died 6 years ago. On Prudence’s grave plaque was written ‘I must go back to the Tableland, Where life can be rough and hard, Let me return to the mud brick house, Of heat & drought & the worry of debt, Then the joy in the coming of rain, I must go back to the Tableland and have my share of it’.

The Roebourne-Wittenoom Rd is the worst road we have driven on so far! Diabolical! The corrugations were deep and constant and the road had so many small floodways which you couldn’t see until you were almost upon then and had to brake sharply to slowly cross. The Karratha – Tom Price Rd wasn’t much better but it at least turned into bitumen.

We left to head north to Karratha and as we were listening to an audio book we rattled past a sign saying ‘Python Pool’. Anything that sounded remotely like it has water in or near it was much needed. We drove east for 20km to the most beautiful and inviting waterhole we have seen so far! Neither of us had our bathers but the site of the water drew us in and we leapt in fully clothed! The water had a lot of minerals in it and was very buoyant. Tim and I floated around on our backs looking up at the gorge walls rising high above us. As we swam, we chatted to another couple who had travelled from NSW.

We got to Karratha and had lunch at a tavern. We found a car wash and hosed the car and camper off. I used the BP toilet and was unpleasantly surprised to find there was no toilet paper anywhere. And this wasn’t a shake and shimmy kind of dunny trip either. So I sat poised, waiting for another customer to leave the bathroom before I jimmied my pants and scooted into the next cubicle! God help anyone who walked in in the middle of my crab-walk!

We then headed to a place called 40 mile beach which is a 53km drive south of Karratha. The caretaker is very friendly and we are now set up in a beautiful private campsite with our very own access to our very own part of the beach!

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Wikicamps is actually coming in handy despite us doubting it when we first started. And as usual, talking to the locals is the best way to find great places. We are now heading back south until we reach Shark Bay then we’ll come back up the coast to Darwin exploring the coast further north of Karratha.

I’m writing this in a Word document because I only have one bar of reception and it’s just too damn slow. Ugh, first world problems!

Talk to ya soon! Xoxoxo

P.S Check out the Outback Traveller Magazine on Facebook! It’s starting up and will be amazing!

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Get to the sun!

We have left Albany! We left last Friday the 17th August 2018, 45 minutes later than we anticipated. Who cares, all good. The car took ages to fill both tanks with 270L of diesel but while doing so, we met a guy who was about to cross the Nullabor to Victoria.

I spent a gorgeous day with my oldest brother and his family in Busselton. I watched my nieces netball game and had a 9 holes of golf with my brother, nephew and my nephews friends. And I won! woooohooooo! It was also nice sitting up until 1.30am on the Friday night just talking with my brother of whom I don’t get to see that often.

So I am sitting here with the sun beaming down on me as the afternoon progresses into the evening, tapping away on my keyboard in a destination that I thought we would simply pass through rather than spend the night in. What happened?

We got to Bunbury Farmer’s Market and the car wouldn’t start. RAC was called who diagnosed that the regulator on the alternator is buggered. So we have checked into a caravan park in Bunbury to get it sorted tomorrow.

After initially feeling really bloody pissed off, especially on our very very very first day of our adventure, we’ve both calmed down and just relaxing. It WILL get fixed and we WILL be on our way to get to the sun!

I’m having a glass of wine while I type and Tim’s having a beer while he watches me type. Forge ahead we say! Next update will be north of Perth!

Keep posted!

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No Fixed Address

‘So where shall I send the final bill?’ she asked. Cancelling all our subscriptions and services, we had heard this question multiple times. ‘No fixed address’ I reply ‘Email it please’.

In 66 hours, Tim and I will be itinerant with NFA. Woohoo!

Our house is getting sparse. I have one basket of clothes and three pairs of shoes. Our dog and cat are going to family while we travel to Alice Springs. Izzy the dog will be flying to Alice Springs when we settle there but Leila the cat will stay with ‘Grandad’ (Tim’s Dad).

Alice Springs. I got a nursing graduate program in Alice Springs hospital! It was my first choice so I am absolutely THRILLED to start there early next year! I have nominated to go to ED, ICU or Surgical to build my skills and knowledge so I can go on the next year to do the transition to remote area nursing program. I feel so proud to be a new staff member at Alice Springs Hospital and both Tim and I are looking forward to making new friends in the N.T.

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The last few weeks I have been catching up with friends as much as possible. Tim has been getting a lot of work done to the Landcruiser and we’ve been selling and giving away furniture and belongings. Neither of us work anymore so it’s given us more time to get things ready. We’ve been cleaning the house, sorting out insurances, buying more camping stuff and finally downloaded Wikicamps Australia.

I’ve been going through a flurry of emotions ranging from excitement to nervousness but overall, I can’t wait to hit the road and get north of Perth to feel the heat. Albany has been wet wet wet so sunshine is the light we will be pursuing! A few of my dear friends bought me a St Christopher (patron saint of travellers) pendant and chain which I have not taken off (except for the photo!) and a colleague got me a pen engraved with The Scribbling Nurse.

And I got matching tattoos with a beautiful friend of mine who actually comes from Alice Springs! We drove home alternating between crying and laughing while reminiscing the years of our friendship.

Tomorrow and Thursday the rest of our furniture is being bought and collected so we will have a mattress on the floor of the lounge for the night.

I’ll be spending two nights in Busselton with one of my brothers and his family while Tim will visit his friend in Capel. On Sunday morning we will leave early and drive as far as we can to get north of Perth and to really start our journey!

So stay tuned because I’ll be updating often with lots of photos of our journey!

 

 

 

 

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It’s a dirty old town

It’s not really. Albany I mean. It’s a beautiful town. I’ve just been listening to The Pogues a little too much. Me and Shane McGowan have similar quality teeth.

I’m saying my goodbyes, au revoirs and sayonaras to my friends and acquaintances and it’s bittersweet. Two weeks ago I had a cracking time at a local funky bistro with a group of dear friends. I looked fondly at each of them as they stuffed food into their mouths, slopped cider down their fronts and laughed with their mouths full and I felt so much love. They are people who are themselves and nothing else. Who accept me as me even though sometimes I should have been someone else. But overall, they are my mates who I share a special bond with and love to bits.

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We can’t choose our family but we can choose our friends. The old cliché … and although I am leaving my friends in person, through the power of social media I can continue to irritate them by tagging them in stupid shit or naming group chat’s ‘Bunch of knobs’ (you know who you are).

As I found out when I was finishing my degree on placement in the Northern Territory, it is fun to make new friends. It is a thrill to learn about someone else, their history, plans, sense of humour… I made some new friends only being over there for a short time and I can’t wait to see them again when we get back.

I keep telling myself all of this because I am feeling nervous about the whole new chapter of our lives. I have officially resigned from my job and Tim has given his notice for his long service leave. From the 10th August, I am unemployed with no job to go to (as I know at this moment) but have made a peaceful decision to let life unfurl before me and take opportunities as they come.

I’m a controller; I like to be in control, take control and try to not lose control. But that mindset really isn’t sustainable for a future of adventure and mystery; something of which I wish for my life and Tim’s. So letting the grip loosen and becoming more accepting of what happens is a lesson I’m going to learn and hopefully appreciate.

Thank you for voting for my blog in the Bupa Blog Awards, I got an email saying my blog has been nominated so finger’s crossed when they make the decision in September! We will well and truly be on the road then so I’ll be uploading far more interesting posts but I wanted to just check in and say Hi! and that I haven’t forgotten to keep you in the loop.

Talk to you soon!

Rachel xoxo

 

 

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She was Broken

‘For Heaven’s sake! Put that tray down and get the damn washing on!’. Her nasal voice boomed across the dining room and cut a diagonal slice through each of my ear drums. Resident’s paused midway through scooping porridge into their mouths and watched wide-eyed as the new carer was again being screamed at by the senior staff member. There was unease in the air as the young girl scampered across the faded linoleum and up the ramp towards the laundry; head down and tears again welling in red-lined eyes.

To say it was a baptism of fire would be an understatement. When I began working at the aged-care facility, I was already a wreck. Nursing a broken heart from a devastating end to a relationship and never having worked in aged-care, I was beyond nervous. My anxiety was at its peak and I even jumped when the automatic air-freshener sprayed. I had no idea that I would be sent even lower than I already was; by a person who was meant to be kind.

I have just read an article by Rachel Macy Stafford called ‘Am I Invisible?’ about being left out, or treated badly or just needing kindness, any sort of gentle kindness. It struck a nerve in me. Not to open old wounds but to appreciate people in my life who have shown true, unconditional kindness when I had nothing to offer back. People who found parts of my personality they liked and wished to get to know. People who didn’t know me at all but their inherent personal qualities of treating people with kindness and compassion shone out of them like morning sunbeams over the ocean.

There is one person out there, maybe two, three, ten, two dozen? But at least one person who has held their hand out when you were lying on your back, pinned down by insecurities, circumstances and devoid of energy to try to get back up by yourself.

I stood behind the laundry sobbing. Sobbing and sobbing. ‘Why me? I am trying my best! I don’t know what I don’t know!’ The sound of the back door opening and the rustle of wheelie frames being ushered noisily inside sparked me to wipe my tears, blow my nose and blink heavily, trying to less redden the red in my eyes.

Day in, day out I was screamed at, told I was ‘hopeless’ ‘useless’ and ‘a wonder I was ever employed because I wouldn’t be for long’. I was set up to fail by being asked to perform tasks she knew I had no idea of how to do but knowing I was too terrified to ask for help. I would go home and feel empty; no tears were left, no strength was had and no future was I looking forward to. Except the days I would drive into work and see a familiar car parked in the familiar spot. The other senior staff member was on shift and it was going to be a good day.

Tonia (pseudonym) was the absolute opposite of the other staff member and to me, in my current broken state, she was an angel. She greeted every staff member by name and let the staff organise themselves in the morning. And to top it all off, she cared deeply for her colleagues of whom she was fiercely protective. I was often rattled at work but kept it together to provide care to the people I was there to support. However, every day I was on with Tonia, she would stop me as I scarpered up and down the hallways and hug me. A big, warm, long hug. And she would whisper to me “You are doing a great job, never forget that, you are doing a brilliant job”. These moments slowly built my confidence and with the camaraderie between myself and the other carers, work got less traumatic and more enjoyable.

Unbeknownst to me, the manager was addressing the issue with the other staff member. The other staff had been reporting what was happening to not only me but other new carers and things were happening.

Personally, I decided that I would not be a victim. I would not let the nasty insecurities of one person affect me so deeply because I was giving her power. So I made a promise to my soul that I would never again let someone make me feel like that. And I would never make someone else feel like that. I worked hard at that job; really hard. And was offered a nursing scholarship a few years later.

The other day I had breakfast with the colleagues who were so supportive at that job. Four women who I will always love and admire because they suffered as well. And we laugh, hug, tease each other but most of all, have a deep respect for each other that you can see as we look at each other with admiration and kindness.

You see, you don’t have to ‘stand up for the underdog’ all the time. You just need to be compassionate. Often a kind word or gesture can be all it takes to remind someone struggling that ‘things will be okay’.

I will always strive to be like Tonia. I don’t think I’ll ever get to her level but if I come even slightly close, I will be happy.

Take care and be kind to each other.

  • Rachel.
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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.