The travelling medic {What I’ve learnt}

travelling-medic-1I can barely begin to describe just how transforming these last six months have been. Those of you who know me well will have realised just how far outside of my cushy, fashion-filled, food-centric comfort zone I’ve been taken and may even have thought that I’d come screaming back home, in a hurry to put all this behind me. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. The heart and soul of the people and this land have somehow just crept into me and won me over, bit by bit. It’s like the red pindan that makes its way into every nook and cranny of your house and stains the soles of your runners an indelible bright orange also gets into your blood, leaving a bright and unforgettable mark.

Here are a few images that I chose to hopefully convey what my work days have consisted of, my favourites being those where we travelled to tiny remote Aboriginal communities where beautiful children run amok. I will miss these guys a great deal. Some are painfully quiet and shy, but others are garrulous and affectionate, and lavish their attention and hugs (and snot!) all over you. Unfortunately, due to patient confidentiality I haven’t been able to share any images of these children but I will never forget them!

I probably won’t post a whole lot until I’m settled back in Perth! So ciao for now!

motifThings I thought I knew about myself:

1. I hate change. It had even become a running joke between Jinn and I that I am so resistant to change that I can’t even bear to rearrange the prints on the wall in our dining room. Well, so much for that! With this job I’ve had to move from town to town and work with new people, performing completely foreign and out-of-my-depth tasks, sometimes on a daily basis! My confidence has grown immensely in this area, and although rigidity and structure can be a strength I have definitely learnt to go with the flow, stay happy and not always feel the need to be in control. It’s actually been quite a liberating, exhilarating and empowering revelation for me.

2. I hate swimming. I hate the beach. I’m still not a strong swimmer but dang a secluded beach and feeling the waves lap around your ankles is a tonic to the soul.

3. I hate bugs. Nope. I still hate bugs. I’ve just learnt to be braver. And have a large can of insect spray and an even larger shoe at hand.

4. I’m a city girl. As much as I love big cities with their high fashion stores and chic boutique bars, I’ve also developed an equally strong love for the wild, wild country. The sheer freedom and delight the land and its people bring. Imagine driving down a bumpy, dusty red road in an equally dusty red four-wheel drive, the trees and termite mounds whizzing past you. Wildlife abounds, a flock of white corellas squawk and fly above you, a shy wallaby bounds past, or if you’re lucky a pair of brolgas spread their wings and float majestically by. Your destination may be a rocky gorge with fascinating rock formations, or a secluded creek where you’ll while away the afternoon trying to catch barramundi, but really just having a good ol’ yarn with a good mate. Time just has a completely different meaning and concept up here. Instead of running from task to task, smartphone in hand, time is best spent doing whatever you want, at whatever pace you choose, in a t-shirt and thongs. Just the other day one of the longtime inhabitants here called me a “Kimberley girl” – now that’s a compliment! 🙂 In some ways, the best way I can describe my experience (trying not to be too cliched here) is that I feel almost like a well-kept animal that’s finally left its safe warm cage and found that the wild outdoors is actually truly amazing and beautiful.

Broome – you have not seen the last of me.

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Emma Gorge

emma-gorge-2-3The mini hike into Emma Gorge was as fun as it was rewarding! After our morning seeping in the luscious waters of Zebedee Springs (read about it here) we decided it was time to limber up and get active. Yes, there is a “path” of sorts and the way is marked, but this walk is not exactly your typical Sunday stroll. Imagine clambering over slippery rocks and tip-toeing across creeks, all the while trying to remember to look up ever so often to enjoy the greenery and incredible rock faces that surround you. The gorge ends with an icy (and I mean icy) natural pool where you can have a well-earned swim and wash away the sweat and red dust. I must admit, it was so so very cold and I didn’t last long. But I contented myself to laze on the nearby rocks that had been warmed by the sun, listening to a group of children splashing around, seemingly immune to the chilly water.
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Ivanhoe Cafe

ivanhoe-cafe-1-2Ivanhoe Cafe is one of those places that you stumble across and are like, “Why have I never been here before?!?!” My Kimberley job involves me flying to Kununurra every six weeks to do paediatric clinics over there, but most days we finish late when most things are closed and we’re thoroughly exhausted. After my final week in Kununurra (I feel quite sad saying that), Jinn flew up from Perth to join me so we could explore the East Kimberley a bit more. On our last day together, after frolicking in springs and climbing through gorges for the past few days we just felt like having an easy morning and stumbled upon this little place for breakfast.

The cafe has a thoroughly organic, almost lived in feel. It’s nestled amongst these giant mango trees that provide you with ample shade to enjoy your meal. We both ordered the breakfast muffin which came filled with yummy bacon slices, fresh salad greens, and an egg fried to runny-yolk perfection. It also came with a little dipping bowl of pretty mind-blowingly good housemade tomato chutney! The finishing touch was that golden yolk flowing out and coating the contents of the muffin with sunny, creamy goodness. Totally satisfying.

It was just perfect to relax under those great trees, enjoying good company (and pretty good coffee too!). And if you’re still hungry for more, the place sells housemade jams, chutneys, ice cream and local honey too. We left the place with contented stomachs, a shopping bag full of mango jam and that irresistible tomato chutney, sipping on our mango smoothies to go.

Bliss.

Ivanhoe Cafe / Ivanhoe Rd, Kununurra / +61 8 9168 1774 / Open 7 days a week 8:00am – 4:00pm (April to September)

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Archer fish

chamberlain-gorge-5During our visit to El Questro we went on a peaceful cruise down the Chamberlain Gorge, admiring the surrounding cliff faces of beautiful King Leopold sandstone. The highlight? The archer fish we met whilst we stopped for a wee while to enjoy a bite of fruit and a glass of bubbly. These ingenious little fish catch their insect prey by shooting water at them with remarkable accuracy which causes their hapless meals to fall into the water to be eaten! This particularly clever bunch had learnt that they would be rewarded with fish food if they shot us on the hands. They were amazingly good at it, but be careful not to ignore them for too long as they may shoot you in the face! I got my mascara shot off by one over zealous individual! My glass of sparkling wine went hopelessly ignored as I spent my time fascinated by these little wonders of nature…
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Zebedee

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Saturday morning was spent idling and floating in the nourishing waters of Zebedee Springs. Located within the vast El Questro wilderness park, Zebedee Springs is a naturally-occurring thermal spring. It gets its name from a character from the Magic Roundabout (Who? Nah, I don’t remember it either…) and is said to always remain a comfortable 28-32°C (82-90°F), perfect for soaking and lounging in.

As we wandered through the towering Livistona palm trees (and past a stray bull – watch out!), we found ourselves in the natural paradise. We left our clothes, towels and cares on the nearby rocks and steeped ourselves into the soothingly warm spring water. Somehow, the time just flew by. Two hours later and with great reluctance, we eventually had to tear ourselves away – our minds and bodies cleansed by the calming waters. zebedee-springs-1 zebedee-springs-2 zeb-diptych zebedee-springs-5 zebedee-springs-6 zebedee-springs-7 zebedee-springs-9 zebedee-springs-8

Archipelago

horizontal-tour-14This idyllic destination nestled amongst the Buccaneer Archipelago is so secluded that it is virtually only accessible via seaplane. We were flown here from One Arm Point by the amazing crew from Horizontal Falls Adventures and were treated to incredible, once-in-a-lifetime views over the hundreds of rocky islands that form this archipelago.

Quietly floating down one of the pristine creeks in the area, beautifully coloured rock formations reveal the layers of time. We stayed silent, hoping to catch a glimpse of a sun-baking saltwater crocodile. The waters were rich with wildlife, multitudes of fish, and who could fail to spot the sharks that seemed to knowingly circle the houseboat.

The last photo is proof that I, Little Miss Phobia herself, swam with the sharks. Yes, I was in a shark cage, and yes I did shoot very rapidly out of the water involuntarily yelling “Woah!” the first time I popped my head under the water. But – I did it! So to all you people who said I wouldn’t – I dedicate a big ol’ raspberry to y’all!

Photos by me

Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures / Tours from Broome or Derby / bookings@horizontalfallsadventures.com.au / (08) 9192 1172
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Hovercrafts, dinosaurs and cheeky parents

hovercraft-4hovercraft-1 hovercraft-2 hovercraft-3 hovercraft-5 hovercraft-6hovercraft-10hovercraft-12 hovercraft-13 hovercraft-14 hovercraft-15 hovercraft-16 hovercraft-17My awesome Mumsy and Papsy came up to visit me a few weekends ago, and amongst taking in the Broome markets and feasting on barramundi wings and Kimberley mud crabs, we also went on this cool hovercraft tour. At first I was like, hovercrafts are real?!?!? I thought they only existed in sci-fi novels and movies! What a doofus…And to top that off, part of the tour included a look at some actual dinosaur footprints (see the photo above!). Admittedly, they’re not that easy to spot, but once they’re pointed out to you and you see just how regularly they’re positioned, you recognise how those holes could not have been made by some random act of nature or weather.

My mum always tells me stories about how she used to pelt boys she didn’t like with slugs and snails, but I never believed her as these days she is the definition of clean-freak. However, when the hovercraft landed and the low tide revealed a treasure trove of sealife I practically had to run and hide to avoid being splattered with bright red sea cucumbers and sea snails of assorted sizes. My dad, well he was not so lucky. I may or may not have used him as a human shield.

This was one of the most spectacular sunsets I’d experienced yet. The way the colours were reflected in those tiny pools made by the tidal flats. The lingering pinks and purples of the dying light. With only six weeks left up here in the Kimberley, I’m coming to realise just how much I’m going to miss this place.

Photos by me

Follow the sun

cape-leveque-east-beach-15What Kimberley holiday would be complete without a lazy afternoon spent at the beach? We tried our hand at a little snorkelling but alas the water was a tad too choppy for that! We contented ourselves with a nice snooze in the afternoon sun, cooling down with a bite of refreshing watermelon. Sometimes I just love doing nothing.motifcape-leveque-east-beach-1cape-leveque-east-beach-2 cape-leveque-east-beach-3cape-leveque-east-beach-5 cape-leveque-east-beach-6 cape-leveque-east-beach-7cape-leveque-east-beach-12cape-leveque-east-beach-14cape-leveque-east-beach-24cape-leveque-east-beach-29 cape-leveque-east-beach-30cape-leveque-east-beach-33cape-leveque-east-beach-20cape-leveque-east-beach-22

Tagalong

brian-lee-tagalong-15One of the best things we did whilst up at Cape Leveque was join local elder, Brian Lee, on a four-wheel drive tagalong tour. Brian led us along the pristine beach and down to a nearby creek, all the while sharing stories about his Bardi people and the land, and showing us how to spearfish and catch giant Kimberley mudcrabs! Brian was so expressive and enthusiastic. A couple of times he hopped out of his car like a flash, spear in hand, jumping into the surf to retrieve his catch. His face also told many stories by itself, the light in his eyes shining as he explained how his grandparents would have lived in harmony with the land years ago, and his features undeniably showing his Bardi, English and Japanese heritage, testament to the history of this region.

We came to Hunter Creek, traversed its sandy banks at low tide and made our way to the mangroves where the mudcrabs hide out. Expertly, Brian showed us how to extricate these giant crabs from beneath the roots of the mangrove trees before giving us a chance to do the same (quite unsuccessfully!). After a few hours in this amazing wilderness we found ourselves perched on a rocky outcrop, hungrily eyeing the catch from the day: two successfully speared mullet, three giant mudcrabs, and a branch covered in tiny oysters. All were deliciously smoked on a coal fire, and we feasted. I’m not sure I will ever eat crab this good ever again. Ever.

Brian Lee / brianleetagalong.com.au / brian-lee@live.com /0437026262 / Meet him in this awesome video

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Aztec in Broome

cable-beach-herschel-17Wearing – American Apparel t-shirt, Sparkle & Fade skirt, Gorman sandals, Profound Aesthetic cap, ring and metal bracelets from So We Are, Freckle & Co tassel bracelet

If you look really closely you can see I sunburnt my nose! I don’t know about you, but sometimes as painful as they are, I often cherish my little sunburns as signs of a great weekend just passed. Rach said she was itching her mozzie bites fondly on their return to Perth! (And yes, I do not condone getting sunburnt and heartily endorse the whole slip-slop-slap thing, but I think I missed a patch on my nose!)

I’m absolutely digging the whole neo-90s look that’s sweeping the UK at present. I’m slightly obsessed with the crop-top-pencil-skirt silhouette, updated with new prints and colours. And can you blame me for adding neon into the mix? I bought this skirt from Urban Outfitters in London and it is oh. so. comfortable. The downside to comfort? No external holding in of the gut so I have to remind myself not to carb load just before wearing this one! But hey, who cares – I love it!cable-beach-herschel-1 cable-beach-herschel-2 cable-beach-herschel-3 cable-beach-herschel-4cable-beach-herschel-7 cable-beach-herschel-8 cable-beach-herschel-9cable-beach-herschel-11cable-beach-herschel-15cable-beach-herschel-18 cable-beach-herschel-19

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