The Scribbling Nurse

Lost one, gained one

We are now Territorians!! Goodbye Western Australia!

We’ve arrived at our first major destination of Darwin! Getting in yesterday in the late morning, we splashed around in my brother’s pool until it was time to pick my mum up from the airport who has come up from Albany especially to see my graduation ceremony.

We’ve had a great time on the road the past couple of weeks since my last post. We stayed in Kununurra for one night before making our way to Lake Argyle. Swimming in the infinity pool, we looked out over the ‘inland sea’, Australia’s second largest man-made  water reservoir on which we would be sailing the next day.

Tim and I hiked down the 400m rocky zigzag to a pontoon where we met and chatted to a guy who was from the town of Denmark, only 40 minutes from Albany. He had picked up a Russian girl who was cycling her way around Australia or as the guy said ‘hasn’t done much cycling since I picked her up!’. It was beautiful swimming in the deep clean green water surrounded on one side by steep rocky walls and lightly scattered with houseboats and a million dollar yacht, all of which would never leave Lake Argyle after the rigmarole of getting them there in the first place!

The sunset tour of Lake Argyle was beautiful with two tour guides who gave a great informative tour as we sailed around the enormous dam. The highlight was the swim while we watched the red bushfire sun set over one of the islands.

We stayed for 3 nights and were all packed up and ready to leave on the third day to be told me Lake Argyle employees that the road to the Northern Territory was closed and there would be an escorted convoy back to Kununurra. As we couldn’t be bothered unpacking and setting up the camper again, we decided to join the convoy to Kununurra and stay in a hotel for the night (or as it turned out, a couple of nights! The air-con and great swimming pool at Kimberley Grande hotel were too inviting!).

Before the convoy started, a long line of cars waited at the Lake Argyle road turn-off and we all watched as flames licked and gnawed at bushland right across Victoria Highway. Willy-willy’s took smoke and turned it into a dark grey spiral high into the sky as we stood mesmerised. It was a strange but great opportunity to have a chat with a few people before we all moved onto the next legs of our journey.

Once the road as open through to the Northern Territory, Tim and I made the 4.5 hour drive to Katherine and rocked up the Shady Lane Caravan Park where we planted ourselves next to a mango tree laden with hard green mangoes. Night time crept around the corner, actually it was sprung upon us because we lost 1.5 hours due to the time difference, bats came out to play; shrieking and throwing themselves into the branches of palms and mango trees creating a racket. We shone our torch into the trees and watched them hang upside staring right back at us until they flapped loudly and crash landed into a another tree, away from prying eyes.

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We went on a 2 hour boat ride along Nitmiluk gorge where you ride on one boat, get off at the end of one gorge, walk past some beautiful and intriguing ancient Aboriginal art, then hop onto another boat to ride down the second gorge. We were lucky enough to spy a freshwater crocodile nestled in a crevice under one of the gorge walls, his beady eyes looking at us with a ‘bugger off’ expression.

We moved onto Adelaide River and stayed at Mt Bundy Station only a few km’s from the little town centre. Staying at the unpowered camp area along the Adelaide River, we were never along with wallabies, cane toads and a menagerie of birds all rustling, squawking and at one point, getting into our rubbish AGAIN! The swimming pool overlooks a paddock where we swam watching donkeys, horses and buffalo nibble on hay bales and probably eyeing us off jealously as we cooled off in the 40 degree celsius heat!

The next day we visited Douglas thermal springs where sand and water were super-burney in the hot hot sun! I splashed across one of the streams in my thongs, lost a thong stuck in the mud so turned back, picked up the thong, dropped it and swore like a fishwife! We then went up to Butterfly Gorge with us both hoping it would be a cool oasis, opposite of Douglas thermal springs. However we are at the end of the dry season so the river was murky and stagnant. The walk was beautiful however!!

Arriving at Adelaide River Inn, we met Charlie the Buffalo who was the buffalo Mick Dundee hypnotised in Crocodile Dundee. He died in 2000 and was stuffed to be forever looking over 303 Bar in Adelaide River!

So now we are in Darwin and I’m about to go and get beautified for my graduation ceremony tomorrow! My little 4 and a half year old nephew is currently playing an Elsa ‘Let It Go’ birthday card on repeat right next to me while Tim encourages it. My determination to finish this blog entry is stronger than any mind-numbing Disney song arrggghhhhh!!!!

Talk soon! Rachel! xoxoxo

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Our Story

Reading some other stories about how travelling came to be, it occurred to me that there are lots of you out there in this spectacular world who have no idea who I am nor how I came to be a nurse and travelling Australia.

So this is our story.

Tim and I met way back in 2010 and I moved in with him in 2011. Initially we decided we would like to buy a few acres and a house somewhere on the outskirts of our hometown Albany in Western Australia.

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I was working as a personal care assistant in aged care and Tim was (and is) a boilermaker working for a locally owned company. In 2011, I was offered a scholarship by my then manager to become an Enrolled Nurse. Working towards this goal, I also worked full-time while studying part time. As is required for many areas of study, I was required to attend clinical placements at hospitals so I used all my annual leave attending these full-time placements.

Tim and I loved to go away on weekends (or whenever I had a few days off, working shift work and all) and one particular weekend in 2012, we camped at Bluff Creek, a beach further up the coastline from Cheynes Beach WA. Sitting under the black sky scattered with bright stars and a warm campfire burning next to us, I realised I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in Albany paying off a mortgage having never travelled. I told Tim that I wanted to travel when I finished studying (both my Enrolled Nursing Diploma then Bachelor degree in Nursing). Tim said he would do it with me, so that night, we decided that when I had finished my degree and Tim was due his 10 year long service leave, we would pack up and become nomads. That year, so far in the future, was 2018.

For the next 6 years, I finished studying my Enrolled Nursing Diploma then my Bachelor of Nursing all the while working full time. I spent every hour of my accrued annual leave to attend clinical placements which left me feeling really exhausted and pretty burnt out.  However I left aged care and began working in Mental Health, an area I have and always will be passionate about. I was extremely lucky to have a brilliant manager who encouraged and supported staff studying so I was able to attend clinical placements when offered and even travelled to the Northern Territory for a full 2 months of clinical placements in various Aboriginal communities. I had the best time of my life in those 2 months and it ignited a deep and profound respect and passion for providing health care to Indigenous communities. I had wanted to be a Remote Area Nurse for a long time and this placement cemented my goal to become one and work all around Australia.

We set a date of 17th August 2018 when we would be driving out of our driveway and on the next part of our lives. This date was quickly creeping up and we had heaps to do.

We listed all our furniture on Facebook Buy & Sell groups and were surprised at how easily and quickly we were able to sell everything. The house became more and more empty until the final night was spent on a mattress on the floor.

We had saved money and added the dosh from selling our belongings to our travel kitty. I had paid off my debts over the years and Tim had chosen a real estate to lease his house through.

I didn’t have much furniture, having given away or sold a lot of it when I moved in with Tim. However it was harder for Tim emotionally as he was selling everything he had worked hard to buy especially his beloved motorbike, couch and TV.

We had a cat Leila and dog Izzy as well. Leila has gone to live with Tim’s dad and reports back are saying Leila is loving being a lap warmer and spends her days snoozing on ‘Grandad’s’ lap or under his bed covers! Izzy is staying with Tim’s sister until we settle in Alice Springs. Tim’s sister has 4 kids, the two younger ones being at home more and are loving playing with Izzy. We feel so comforted and grateful that our pets are being cared for so well and in homes full of love and attention. Of course we could have taken Izzy with us however we really wanted to see a lot of National Parks and decided it would be kinder for Izzy to remain in Albany rather than having to spend time in random kennels while we are on the road.

So that was how we came to travel, in a nutshell. Of course there were a lot of emotions going on. I had been living back in Albany for 12 years and Tim had lived there all his life (apart from stints living away) so we were leaving friends, family and pets behind, not to forget stable jobs! However now we are on the road, we keep in touch regularly via social networking, phone calls, texts and postcards!

I’m sure many people who travel, both overseas and around Australia are often told how ‘lucky’ they are. But luck has nothing to do with it. Travelling and having the funds to travel requires a lot of work, sacrifices and dedication. For seven years while I studied both my EN and RN I never had a holiday, not to Bali, not over east, not one holiday. Tim and I took little breaks for a day or two but otherwise I was either working and studying full time and/or attending clinical placement in hospitals (full time shifts).

We both had our sights set on becoming free from the daily grind and worked hard to achieve it. Once I finish my grad year in Alice Springs, we will be back on the road picking up nursing/welding work to fund our travels.

I am sitting at my laptop at a place called Cygnet Bay on the Dampier Peninsula. It is a balmy evening and I’m sipping on icy cold apple cider, looking forward to what tomorrow brings. In a couple of days we will be doing the Gibb River Road then heading to Darwin for my graduation ceremony on the 12th October.

So if you want to travel, anywhere in the world or around your own country, you CAN do it! It doesn’t need to be expensive and you can do it on a budget. Just work hard and save as much as you can, you can always pick up work on the road if you need.

There are heaps of Facebook pages that are really informative and helpful. I have found quite a few really helpful, here are some links:

MY RIG Adventures

Not Grey Nomads

Trekking Downunder

Seeking the Serenity

Thanks for reading! – Rachel xoxox

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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