It’s interesting growing a garden in Tennant Creek. We gave the wet and dry seasons as we are 500km north of the Tropic of Capricorn. During the dry season, plants need regular watering but the temperature is not high, so it’s manageable. In the much hotter wet season, it is fortunately also wetter, so use of tap water is minimal. Plants grow like crazy though, what with the perfect combination of warmth and water. Hence our front yard looks lush and green at this time of year. Unfortunately we have very little soil in our yard, so growing food plants is difficult. Because of aggressive termites, we can’t use the usual timber planks to make raised garden beds like we did in Oodnadatta. We are currently saving to buy a few Eco posts made of recycled paper, as they are termite proof. They cost about $90 each, do it will be a while yet!!
Report on CRANAplus Conference 2011
Well, I guess it’s about time that I posted something about the 2011 conference in Perth. It was held on October 11-14 and I think it was the best one yet. As CRANAplus has grown, the conference organising has more and more become a staff responsibility, with a subsequent improvement in the quality and feel of the conference. The next step may be to use a conference organiser, but we’ll see how things go with the current setup.
The conference kicked off on the Tuesday evening with a cocktail event, a combination of opening ceremony and presentation of the inaugural Fellows of CRANAplus, as well as the annual presentation of graduates from relevant postgraduate courses in remote health. I was privileged to become a CRANAplus Fellow, as well as being recognised for my recently acquired Master of Remote Health Practice – Nurse Practitioner qualification. So it was two walks to the podium for me!
On Wednesday morning, the conference proper got under way with a keynote address from Professor Colleen Hayward and a smorgamsbord of interersting and informative talks from presenters around Australia. This continued until lunch time on the Friday, with some very special treats on the way. A presenter from the Solomon Islands shared some of his work in the Solomon Islands Red Cross, and a group of Rural Health Club students amazed us with their passion for remote health. The catering along the way was superb, and facilitated many opportunities to chat with colleagues. One of the highlights of the CRANAplus conferences is the chance to catch us with old friends, and make new ones. This time was no exception, as I saw people who I hadn’t caught up with since last year’s conference, and added a lot of new people to my list of contacts.
My own presentation entitled “Dealing with uncertainty in remote and isolated practice” was on Friday morning, and was well received. I have been asked by a number of people if they could use it in presentations of their own, and also if I could present it in other settings in the NT. No worries, I’m happy to share what I’ve learned, and if it helps others, so much the better!
Next year, the 30th CRANAplus Conference will be held in Cairns, and I can hardly wait.
The Nanny State
CRANAplus Conference 2011
Hiking on Fraser Island – Day 5
|Laura, Claire & John at Lake MacKenzie|
|Taking a short-cut via a vehicle track near Lake MacKenzie|
The longest section of the day’s walk was from where the vehicle track rejoined the walking trail to MacKenzie’s Jetty. It was hotter than previous days too, as the vegetation was shorter and we had more direct sunlight on us. However, the packs were lighter, we were fitter, and we had become accustomed to walking, so it was a pleasant hike. Also, the gradient of the trail was gentle as it followed old tramways used in the old days for logging. This all added up to us making better time than expected, so that we arrived at MacKenzie’s Jetty soon after midday.
At this point, we had a choice about which way to go. The beach route was shorter, but involved walking through sand, while the longer forest trail was firmly packed but quite a bit longer. After testing a bit of the beach walk and finding the sand firm near the water’s edge, we chose the beach route and set off on the last leg of the hike. The sand was soft and hard to walk on in only a few places, so it was a good choice. When we were in sight of the jetty at Kingfisher Bay, we has a ceremony to say farewell to our hiking sticks which had helped us with 5 days of hiking.
Hiking of Fraser Island – Day 4
|Lake Wabby from the lookout|
|Trees in Pile Valley|
Day 5 was to be the longest walk of the trip, so we turned in early at Central Station. No fires allowed, so nothing to keep us up after the sun set anyway.
Hiking on Fraser Island – Day 3
|Giant satinay tree in the Valley of the Giants|
|Gourmet lunch on the trail|
|Bidjana Sandblow advancing into the rainforest|
|Claire modelling several leech bites|
Our campsite on day 3 was at the Lake Wabby Walkers’ Camp. Finally we had managed to reach camp in daylight, and it was a luxury to set up camp and cook dinner without having to hold a torch. Once again we had the campsite to ourselves. In fact we had yet to see any other walkers on the trail. Apart from a few vehicles seen at checkpoints where the walking trial met vehicle tracks, we had not seen anyone for 3 days. So much for the crowded Great Walk on Fraser Island. Given that I did not have a sleeping mat, and hence was not particularly comfortable, my snoring would have cleared out the campsite anyway.
Hiking on Fraser Island – Day 2
|Flooded walking trail between Lake Garawongera and the Valley of the Giants|
|Dingo following us on the trail|
Lunch was at Petrie’s Camp which was a loggers’ camp in the early 1900’s when the area was an important source of timber. Nearly 100 years after logging it was hard to imagine that this thick lush forest was once cut down, except for one thing – none of the trees were really big. The tallow-woods and satinays take up to 1000 years to reach their full size, so all the trees in this area were still junior. Not all of the big trees were logged though. One magnificent specimen in particular remained standing near the end of the day’s hike – before it was hit by lightning and lost the top section, it was the largest tree on the island, estimated to be over 1000 years old. It was getting dark by the time we reached this tree, but we managed some pictures and video of it. A photo of Claire hugging the massive trunk shows the scale.
|Claire giving the Giant Tallow-wood a hug|
We camped the night at the Valley of the Giants Walkers’ Camp, surrounded by huge trees. Once again we set up camp in the dark, because we started off in the morning too late. Dinner was rice, again, but this time flavoured with chicken soup mix. Rice is a great food for hiking because it is easy to carry and cook, and a small amount is very filling. On other occasions I have existed for days on plain rice, but this trip was the height of luxury with flavours to make the rice more palatable. Cooking was done on a gas cooker powered by disposable gas canisters. Fires were not permitted on Fraser Island, so we had to take gas or liquid fuel for cooking. We chose the gas canister stove because it was light and compact, and used the same canisters at the $20 gas stoves that you get from the hardware shop. These canisters are available practically everywhere, and each one is good for several days.
Hiking on Fraser Island – Day 1
|Hiking along the beach towards Happy Valley|
|Campsite at Lake Garawongera Walkers’ Camp|
Harts Range Races
Over the long weekend at the end of July, the Harts Range Amateur Race Club hold their annual race day at their race course near Harts Range on the Plenty Highway. It is a family weekend, with events and entertainment for children and adults. Catering is a mix of BYO and a canteen kitchen usually operated by volunteers from the Ioslated Childrens Parents Association (ICPA).
For the past 3 years, I have been catering coordinator for ICPA for the Harts Range weekend. This involves organising the required permit to operate the kitchen and sell food, ordering all the necessary supplies, arranging a roster of people to do the cooking and serving on the weekend, and then overseeing the operation of the kitchen. The first year was very stressful, as I had no idea what I was doing and no idea what I needed to know. This third year was much better, despite the usual crop of setbacks. Most of the orders arrived without a hitch, except we received 20 loaves of bread instead of the 20 cartons of bread I ordered (that was 240 loaves!!) Fortunately we were able to contact a latecomer who could collect the other 220 loaves from Alice Springs for us. Everything else arrived as ordered.
The weather was quite warm. It was not so hot as to be uncomfortable in the open, but certainly warm enough to prompt people to want lots of cold drinks. For the first time that I have been involved, we sold all of the drinks we had available, which was both good and bad. Good because we had no leftovers to dispose of, and bad because we could have sold more if we had them! Ice blocks and bags of ice we also quick sellers, and we ran out of them too.
Staffing the kitchen is always a problem. This year was better in that a team of volunteers took the morning shifts out of my hands and ran the kitchen from opening at 8am until 1pm. Then I took over, assisted by two of my girls and another volunteer, until 8pm. The occasional hour or three from other volunteers allowed us to take short breaks , but it was still a long day in the heat of the kitchen.
Once again I was unable to see much of the activity on the racetrack and in the rodeo arena. When the events were on, I was in the kitchen, and after the kitchen closed the girls and I collapsed on our swags until morning. Maybe one year I’ll go for the fun of it!! The best thing about this year’s effort is that we were able to raise a lot of money for ICPA, so they can continue to advocate for bush kids to get quality education and appropriate support to make the most of the educational opportunities that come their way.
Maybe we will tackle the coordinating role again next year. Time will tell, as it depends on whether we are still in the NT this time next year. It’s been a good experience, but don’t ask me too much about what goes on at the Harts Range Races. I can only tell you about the kitchen, for everything else you’ll have to talk to someone who actually gets to see the races!!