Exploring Millstream National Park

So it’s been 6 weeks! Life in the Pilbara is going well. 

The White Lady posing for photos.

I’m enjoying working full time, knowing my roster weeks ahead of time, I can plan a little get away or 2. The warm weather is definitely growing on me and shock horror I may even be getting a tan, definitely a lot freckles! 

A lovely place to have a rest along one of the trails.

Two nights away camping in Millstream Chichester National Park was a great way to refresh after a busy first month which included a quick trip back to Perth for an appointment. So when I had 4 days off it was time to pack The White Lady and explore my new backyard.

The White Lady is so photogenic.

I thought I’d share a few hints and things I learnt during my most recent adventure.

1. Don’t forget your pillow. A simple one but trust me it will make camping a lot more comfortable. I realised that I forgot mine an hour into my trip, I did contemplate turning back to get it but decided not to, instead I used my bag with my clothes in as a pillow. Would not recommend! 

Such an open area of wilderness and a sneaky mirror selfie.

2. Even if you don’t think you need matches pack matches. Lucky for me I didn’t need matches to light the barbecues.

The park had very fantastic BBQ areas set up, which luckily didn’t need matches.

3. Carefully pick a campsite! I set up camp only to discover my neighbour was mildly intrusive and creepy, this was easily managed with avoidance by keeping busy.

4. Be prepared to explore. Maybe a bit vague, but for me this meant bringing enough water and appropriate water bottles so I could go on long walks and see everything, ensuring I had a full tank of fuel meant I could drive all through the park without worrying about running out, bringing sneakers because doing a 5km walking trails in thongs is not recommended, bringing plenty of sun protection because sunburn is awful, and the most important thing to bring is a willingness to have fun and relax.

Red dirt, flowers, spinifex and a stunning range. Couldn’t be any more Pilbara if you tried.

5. Make sure people know where you are going to camp, the details of the vehicle you are traveling in, when you are expected to be home and most importantly keep these people updated. This is probably the number 1 thing when travelling by yourself.

I kept my site very simple. Just a tent and my chair, my chair has a fantastic wine glass holder which is very handy. I have decided next time I will need to bring some form of shade.

6. Bring a well maintained first aid kit and any medications you may need. As well as having a first aid kits it’s a good idea to have an appropriate first aid qualification for what ever activities you like participating in. This is important whether travelling in groups or by yourself.

The pool at the Homestead is so clear and so very tempting to swim in which isn’t allowed due to its cultural significance.

7. Plan your trip, the best way to do this is by using resources such as DPAW and local tourist centres. Through these resources you can get valuable information such as best times to travel, weather warnings, road closures, facilities that are available, different camping spots and activities to do in the area.

In the warm afternoons the river was a great place to cool down amongst all the cat fish.

8. Over prepare. Bring extra food and water incase you get stranded whether it’s though poor weather and unsuitable road conditions to get out, getting lost, or your car breaking down. Non perishable pantry items such as biscuits, tuna, baked beans and muesli bars are always handy. This will also allow you to extend your trip if you’re just not ready to leave yet.

It’s wildflower season in the Pilbara and I couldn’t resist a photo or 10

9. Ensure your vehicle is well maintained and do a walk around and pre trip check. I’m not a mechanic I am a nurse so if I can manage a pre trip check I’m sure you can too. An easy way to check you vehicle is to use the mnemonic POWER. P- Petrol or the fuel suitable for your vehicle and any other pumps or generators you may want to run. O- Oils. Check your engine oil, the dip stick is usually yellow. If you want to go further check your brake fluid, clutch fluid and power steering levels. W- Water, this is your windscreen washers water and radiator fluid. This is also a good reminder to pack enough drinking water. E- Electrics, check all your lights are working and that your battery isn’t about to die. R- Rubber, check your tyres are inflated appropriately and aren’t worn out, also check out the hoses in your engine bay aren’t perished or obviously damaged.

Clear skys and lovely warm weather for a trail walk.

10. A list with 9 items would have been uncomfortable so number 10! Explore, have fun and relax, remember it’s a holiday and you’re meant to have fun.

Travel safe xx

Red Dirt and Beaches

So I’ve made it though my first week at my new job and in my new house. I only got lost while driving around town once, this was good though as I discovered some nice lookouts and places to go for a walk. Although I’m still adjusting to the weather so I’m still finding it a bit warm for too much walking around but I’m sure we’ll get there.

My neighbours came over to say hi before I had a chance to even get out of my car let alone get into my house and unpack, they seem friendly and have already got me watching their house for strangers hanging around while they are away. After meeting my neighbours everything was removed from The White Lady and dumped on my lounge room floor where it stayed until the next day. Everything is unpacked now and put in its place ready for the next 6 months.

Me and all my patients have survived my first week at work. I was very kindly given 4 supernumery shifts (I was an extra number on the floor) which allowed me to ask lots of questions, figure our where things are kept and how things are done. My most busy shift was my first day as part of the staffing numbers but everyone lived so that’s a win in my books.

There are definetly benefits to having designated and colour coded uniforms. It allows for easy identification of the roles each team member holds and you don’t accidentally ask an AIN to sign a medication chart or sign off on test results or you could mistake the doctor for an orderly or cleaner and ask them to clean the urine off the floor. These situations are embarrassing for everyone and possibly dangerous. On the flip side it is super fun wearing colourful cartoon scrubs, adds an extra bounce to your step and is a nice conversation starter.

Other than working and unpacking this week I’ve signed up for the gym, gone for a walk along a heritage trail and gone to a few of the lookouts around town.

My first full weekend in the Pilbara is here and I’m hoping to go out to Dampier and have a go at a little bit of fishing from the beach and do some more exploring around my new home.

 And so it Begins

The first half of my trip to Karratha is complete, camp is set up and I’m enjoying an adult beverage, although someone mixed my drink a bit too strong! I’m waiting for dinner to warm up, a very fancy meal of baked beans with the little sausages. Today was probably the hardest driving day I’ve had; a mix of pre journey excitement, a late night and having a cold with angry tonsils meant a less than ideal night sleep or driving conditions today. 

I’ve missed how The White Lady handles when she’s full although I definitely haven’t missed the fuel economy, or lack thereof of when we are full. I had doubts that everything would fit in and had planned to have a packing box or 2 shipped up at a later date, with some planning and juggling all but 1 small box fit in.

Yesterday the last of the packing was completed along with some last minute tent repairs. I rediscovered my fishing rod and had a crash course on how to set up your hooks and bits like that, is it called tackle, I will definitely be the most clueless fisher on the beach! 

When I was deciding what clothes and shoes to pack and had it all lined up I discovered a bit of a trend. I’m beginning to think I have a problem. My favourite colour is definitely blue, can’t you tell? 

Tomorrow is a big day so I’m hoping to get a good night’s sleep and conquer this cold/gross tonsil thing I’ve got going on. Although no sleep is going to happen while the man in the site next to me is watching the football. It’s been lovely weather for the last half of my day and I’m glad to be out of the wet cold Perth weather but I can see that I’ll miss it soon enough.

When it Rains it Pours

It may have taken a month and a half for me to get my first shift through the agencies, once they started trickling through more and more continued until it was flooding. It got to the point where last week I spent more time at work than I did at home.

I’ve mastered the double shift, which as an agency nurse means working 0700 to 1300 then again 1500 to 2130 so a 12 hour day working, easy right? For me to get to the hospital I’ve been working at it means waking up at 0530 and leaving the house at 0550, there isn’t enough time between shifts too go home so I stay around work. This means I’m out of the house from 0550 until 2230, 16.5 hours, the days I worked last week that’s all I did eat, sleep, work, repeat. I worked 42 hours over 3 and a half days then after a few days off I added a night shift too the mix, totalling 52 hours for the week. 
You may ask why would I say yes to all those shifts. Well the thing is that my move was in less than 2 weeks now, so I need to fund that and I know that starting a new job means I won’t get paid until after my first fortnight, so i was taking advantage of the pouring rain of work while it lasted.

You’d expect things for my move to be organised by now considering that I’m driving out in just over a week, you would be very mistaken. I have some frozen meals ready to take with me for those busy weeks when I don’t have time, because it’s in those busy times when more than anything else you need good nutrition and sleep. 

The week ahead is going to be full of packing and some catch ups with friends before my drive and fresh start. 

Ashes, Camping and 4WDing

My trip to Karratha at the beginning of May was only briefly spoken about in the previous episode.

Mullets and hot sauce, what more do you need in a mate.

I joined up with the rest of the convoy on the Tuesday in Exmouth. I was forrbidden from driving into Exmouth in the dark so I was up at 0400 to leave Perth and arrived in Exmouth at about 1630, just in time to wave the kids goodbye as they went out fishing. My friends and I headed across the road to the pub to enjoy the only child free time we were going to have for the next 4 days. After dinner and completely failing at Poole we went back to camp until my mate decided he wanted to show the backpackers at the pub his hot sauce, so off we went back to the pub to only get half way through a beer before it was bed time. 

Ready for the first crossing.
Not everyone made it across easily.

For me driving in convoy was a new experience all of my road trips up to now had been solo adventures but for this trip we had 4 camper trailers and 3 cars, 11 adults and 5 kids. A 4 hour drive and many toilet stops later we were setting up camp at the fire station. For the trip I had borrowed my brothers massive double swag which was easy to set up and pack away as well as being comfortable to sleep in. Plans were finalised for the drive out to the river over a few drinks at the pub. 

The view of camp from the top of the hill

Thursday we headed out to the river, our convoy had now grown to 16 vehicles. We drove out to the Fortesque River and to the camping spot. We had 2 river crossings to do and for me this was a bit daunting, I’ve read and heard how easy it is to cause damage to your car with just the smallest amount of water. The White Lady and I made it through both water crossings on the first attempt, I won’t lie my heart was racing, I thought I was going to vomit and the adrenaline was rushing, hands shaking. The White Lady definitely has a few limitations, her clearances is a bit low and we had some issues running my freezer but nothing we can’t fix. 

The very friendly emus at Exmouth

Watching a game of poole at Exmouth

We drank too much, spread Mark’s ashes, shared memories and said goodbye once again. 

It was time to go home again. 

Back to Reality

I’ve been home for nearly 6 weeks,  signed up with 3 agencies, booked for 6 shifts and they’ve all been cancelled. 6 weeks of no work and things were getting stressful. As the beginning of May came closer and the trip to Karratha was fast approaching. It’s been over a year since one of my good mates and an amazing mentor passed away. For his birthday this year we went camping to his favourite spot to spread his ashes and celebrate his life.

Despite the obvious money constraints this was a trip I couldn’t miss. While away in Geelong I missed being with Mark’s family and my friends for the first anniversary of his passing, that was so hard for me. Being away from my family and friends during times like this was awful and I didn’t want to miss out on such an important event again. 

While in the Pilbara I fell in love with the landscape and the lovely weather, it’s so nice this time of year. 

So with no work in the foreseeable future in Perth, I took a leap! I printed a copy of my CV, tidied myself up, put on a dress and went to the local hospital. A week later I wrote a cover letter and the week after that I was having phone interview! My phone interview was daunting and exciting the best part is I survived and got offered a job. 

Despite absolutely loving winter and the rain I am excited to work full time again and have the opportunity to learn more and escape to the warmth.

Friendships and the Nullabor

After a stop over in Adelaide and a trip to the zoo it was time to do the final 28 hour drive home. I killed it! Getting home in a quick two days, very very long days!

On the first day The White Lady and I made it through quarantine and across the boarder. Of course I did stop in Ceduna to have some fresh oysters for lunch and a quick nap. I brought 12 oysters a lemon and a pepper grinder; the plan was 6 for lunch and 6 for dinner… and like all good plans that’s not how it happened. Instead I ate 12 of the best oysters ever for lunch. A quick phone call to mum to brag about my amazing lunch and sending photographic evidence to friends and I found out this is not a normal thing to do. I didn’t care these people had not just experienced the culinary joy I did sitting in my car eating amazing fresh seafood.

By 1500hrs (3 in the afternoon) the next day I was home. I cried. I was exhausted but no longer stressed. My sister had also arrived home that day too from a trip abroad, nearly the whole family was home and it felt perfect. Suitcases scattered throughout the house waiting to be unpacked!

I was home and I had a bed, a real bed! Not only that it was my bed with my beautiful sheets. How I managed to sleep while I was away is a mystery. I have never before appreciated my bed as much as I did that night, and to make things even better I had fresh bed linen too.

After 2 months away I made new friends and learnt a lot about old friends. I built great bonds with friends at home despite being on the other side of the country, and learnt to truly appreciate my quiet friends, because when you heading up Shit Creek and you lose your paddle they are there no matter what.

Arrival in Geelong

An 8 hour drive and I was in Geelong. My excitement was high I was going to see my friend after nearly 6 months apart and months of planning this trip. To add to this excitement he wedding was being planned for a few months time, to say everyone was excited is an understatement.

I worked as an agency nurse while in Geelong and had so many new experiences. First time working outside of Western Australia,  first time within the private health system, on a surgical ward, on a surgical orthopedic ward. The new, or different, equipment used within the different hospitals and even sometimes across different wards in the same hospital. The weird contraptions that were meant to be IV pumps, I was very skeptical at first that it was indeed a an IV pump but I was shown otherwise, and had to be shown again with each new hospital and new pump! For someone that has only ever seen one type of IV pump ever this was something few new for me to experience, not only was I seeing these odd pumps I was expected to be able to use it. I felt like a baby boomer with a new smart phone, completely lost, confused and amazed by the machines witchcraft .

The wedding was postponed, The White Lady was given a service and once again packed and we were on our way. 

It was home time!!! A month earlier than expected but well over due!

The Beginning

It was time for my first adventure. I completed my graduate program. I had in my hand my Transition to Practice certificate and the just as important Royal Snitch Award.

Screenshot_20170214-203441.pngThe White Lady (my lovely white car) and I were getting ready to travel across the country to Victoria. We left on Valentine’s Day (how romantic?!), car packed with all the essential items we drove off into the sunset. Well not really, I drove to the fuel station at 10 in the morning, ready for the trip towards the eastern seaboard.

20170214_20370720170214_203247On day 1 we conquered 1123km a massive 12 hour drive, turns out there was no romance on Valentine’s Day…unless you include the thousands of bugs getting to know the front of The White Lady very intimately. Despite agreeing to not do the 90 mile straight at the end of the day in the dark, I did exactly that! I arrived in Cocklebiddy where I shared my motel room with some more bugs.

20170215_080127After a long first day on the road day 2 was even longer. 1232 km later and I was in South Australia staying with family. Day 2 involved time travel, a massive fuel bill, crossing the boarder and being quarantined.

After two long days on the road by myself day 3 was filled with my extended family. I spend the morning with my Aunt getting a tour of the hospital my Nan worked at and where my Mum trained to be a nurse. It was then a quick 3 hour trip down the road to Adelaide and my grandparents house.

20170218_195448The timing for my stop over in RAdelaide was perfect, the Adelaide Fringe Festival was running. Kidnapped by my Aunt and covered in glitter I enjoyed the marvels of the festival, watching my cousin perform and many other weirdly talented people.

A few days later and it was time to continue to Geelong.

The End

FB_IMG_1486289377917This is the beginning of The Run Away Nurse, or really the end of the previous story.

I started the year by completing my graduate year. Now a qualified registered nurse with that all important 12 months of experience, or in my case 15 months. It was time to be set loose, watch out! 15 months in a country hospital and hour and a half from Perth taught me a lot. I had amazing colleagues and knowledgeable mentors, some experiences pushed me to my limits whole others were the most liberating and exciting yet.

My last weeks as a graduate nurse involved cakes, an audit report and certificates. One of my senior nurses created a certificate which she gave to me prior to the presentation of my audit report. I was awarded the Golden Snitch Award. Despite the negative connotations this may evoke, the nurse who created it for me was my biggest supporter, assisting me with data collection and proof reading my report. She is a nurse I look up to, someone I want to become!FB_IMG_1486289404464

Nonetheless, nurses eat their young! An utterly cruel truth. Underneath their terrifying cannibalistic exterior these nurses are strong and knowledgeable nurses.  The cannibal nurse is one to learn from, you just have to breath, pick up a chisel and don’t let them destroy you!

This blog is going to follow me through my life after my graduate program, my journey as a run away nurse…coming to a hospital near you!