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The picture shown below, run us through that day. Is it a hard spot to get to, what did you do the rest of the day?
As a Remote Area Nurse, I’d been wanting to get out to Possum Creek near Aurukun to see it during the Wet season. It’s a very popular spot with the locals and anyone who has a vehicle. Everyone talks about Possum Creek. However, if you haven’t access to a car, it’s impossible to get out there. It’s about ½ hour’s drive from Aurukun.
On this particular day, I had the day off so I boldly asked my lovely friend (a resident of Aurukun) if she’d mind taking me out there. Megan was very happy to take me and so, along with another of Megan’s friends, we took our swimmers and drove out.
The creek is about a kilometre down a dirt track off the main road.
When we arrived, some visiting police officers were already there so we joined up with them chatting about our work etc. The police officers and the clinic staff enjoy an amazing camaraderie. (Last Xmas Day, the Police Station Manager invited the clinic staff for Xmas lunch – they put on an amazing spread for us. We were running on skeleton staff at the clinic and were incredibly busy during the lead up to Xmas. The Police officers rang and offered to come and do anything for us to lighten our load. They suggested answering phones, emptying rubbish bins, cleaning, making us teas and coffees – anything! It was the true meaning of Xmas and we were blown away by their gestures of goodwill.)
Anyway, while we were all paddling around in the water, I said, “Wouldn’t it be amazing if it rained while we’re here?” and within minutes the skies opened up and rained on us! It was absolutely divine and added to our unique experience. These are the things we don’t forget! I think the rain added to the effect in the photos I submitted.
Is the above your average day? What would does the typical day look like for a Remote Area Nurse (RAN) working up North?
No, the day mentioned was not an average day – it was a very special day. If my friend didn’t take me out, I would have missed it. That’s the downside of working in a community without your own transport.
An average day off as a Remote Area Nurse for me starts with a lovely sleep in. We cherish these! Then I usually go to the shop for an outing and do my housework. In the early evening, I jump on an old bike I found ages ago and had resurrected by bits from “Mitre 10” aka the local tip and I ride down to the landing to watch the sunset. This is a very special time of day for me. Watching the local people fishing while the sun sets is like a meditation. It’s quiet, peaceful and beautiful. During the Dry Season, I can ride my bike out to the “beach” which I love doing a couple of times a week. It’s a 14km round trip. It’s a great ride and the country looks different every day.
An average working day as a remote area nurse is pretty similar to other clinics. We start the day with a meeting to discuss various issues of priority. An average sort of day will include seeing lots of skin sores, infected scabies, dealing with various infections, chest pains, toothache, sore legs, arms, necks, feet etc. There’s a fair amount of suturing then fishing related tasks such as removing fish hooks, stingray barbs etc.
We screen for and treat STI’s, we take lots of blood for pathology. We conduct telehealth sessions on a regular basis. Frequently someone needs to be brought to the clinic after having a seizure or a fall.
Luckily we have a Mental Health team from Monday to Thursday plus a visiting Midwife and Child Health Nurse.
What did you love about Arukun and how does it compare to some of the other locations you’ve worked in?
I think the water at Aurukun and the people are some of the main features which keep drawing me back. With both the landing and the beach, there’s variety in my outings which I love. Doing the RHD (Rheumatic Heart Disease) role is also very special for me. I have formed lovely rapport with my patients which helps with their willingness to accept their monthly injections. I enjoy the clinic at Aurukun, I love the climate, the friendships with colleagues, and the history of the Wik people. Strangely, the people of Aurukun aren’t as chronically “sick” as those I’ve nursed in the desert fringes of the Northern Territory. Having said that though, the clinic can be very busy and we certainly have our fair share of acutely very unwell patients who require further treatment in Cairns.
What do you think is next for you – where would you want to go?
Although I love Aurukun (and will go back at some stage) I think it’s time for a change. I’d like to re-visit the Territory and the Kimberley. However, something is telling me to stay around the home (rural NSW) a bit longer this time, so I’m training to help with the Covid19 vaccination rollout. But who knows? In this game, you get used to never knowing what you’re doing from one month to another! I believe in keeping options open, enjoying the moment and never saying never!
HCA R&R Remote Area Nurse (RAN)