Tell us a bit about yourself, have you been in Australia for some time?
I am 45 years old and have been nursing for a long time. I am from Tauranga but had been living in Auckland for 3 years. Time goes so fast
I can see so far you’ve journeyed across WA, how are you finding WA nursing?:
WA has so much to offer, from the cold beautiful south to the hot humid north and everything in between. Coming from New Zealand I had only heard of Perth and I had visited the city once as it takes 7 hours to get to Perth from where I was in NZ. All my friends can’t believe how beautiful it is from all my photos and videos that I have made and nor can I. Each town I go to has so much Jurien Bay is a standout with white sand, turquoise water, and swimming with sea lions.
Kalbarri is simply stunning. They suffered a terrible cyclone early in 2021, but the community has since rallied together. Here the health centre is just fantastic, it’s a wonderful team and place. We even have a massage chair at work. You never know what is going to walk in the door as this is a holiday town and goes from approx 1200 people to 8000 or thereabouts in the holidays.
I bike to work and in the mornings people you go past say, “good morning,” it’s just so lovely. The town itself is very small, but the outdoors are huge. There are large national parks and the wildlife encounters are amazing from emus, echidnas, thorny devils, tropical fish, crayfish, the list is endless. It was hot Christmas Day and was 52 degrees, which is a first for me. My next adventure is abseiling in the gorge, I’m excited.
How are you finding getting around, WA is notorious for being massive and spread all over the place?
The public transport is great in WA I used Qantas, Air North and TransWa trains and buses a lot. I also hired a car from Thrifty they have deals for nurses which really helped me, I worked it out that if accommodation is covered it’s worth hiring a car and looking at all the places I have seen so far. I also chat with the locals a lot, and they’re so lovely and enjoy taking you out to show you their hometown and secret spots. I always repay them with a bottle of wine.
How are the communities you’ve worked at (Wyndham, Kalbarri)? Have the experiences been quite different from one another?
Bunbury ED was very busy, great team whom I have made a lot of friends. In Bunbury the accommodation is varied from shared to single accommodation, I bought a bicycle and that got me to work and back and occasionally I Ubered. But you would ideally need a car. There are dolphins there most days and the beaches are beautiful, make sure you check out Pelican Point simply stunning scenery. Bunbury has plenty of great restaurants and coffee, plus the train to Perth is only 2hrs.
From there I went to the Kimberly’s to Wyndham it was a huge change a remote small community an hour and half away from Kununarra. The accommodation was approx 500m from the hospital and there are small communities around the main town. Your nearest hospital for support is an hour and half away or RFDS. I used to go in the courier van to Kununarra and stay overnight and explore Lake Argyle, Lower Old River, the waterholes.
I can honestly say hands down, the Kimberly’s is my favourite place for scenery and nature. Parry Lagoons feels like you are standing in Africa on a safari tour. Here you can find crocodiles lazing in a large billabong, plus birds galore. I was in Wyndham for the dry season coming into the build-up. I plan to go back up that way after the rainy season to see the green Kimberly’s and swim in the many waterfalls.
What are some of your personal highlights from working in WA?
My highlight is making new friends, helping the people that come through the door, helping the wildlife here and witnessing how a small team really can save a life.
Then there’s going bird watching with Bushy in the Kimberly’s! Single most amazing day of my life. Also, the Lower Ord River boat ride and the plane ride to Albrohlas Islands! WOW! I saw coral spawning and swam in the most incredible clear water with rainbow-coloured coral gardens with a beach that had silky soft white sand.
Any advice/tips can you give to WA nurses or those looking to work Rural and Remote in WA specifically?
Have a few years of experience behind you, as sometimes you can be the only nurse on with an orderly, and that requires a good knowledge base. Be open-minded to different living conditions and make the most of it. I bought a tree hammock. The best thing I’ve bought and great when you finish a shift, you pop into the hammock and read or sleep.
To make the most of rural areas a vehicle is a must, preferable a 4 x 4 so that’s going to be my next purchase, then a house. I have a SodaStream for my tonic, an air fryer haha and I also have a mini Nespresso machine. These things made my life very comfortable when you can’t get to a coffee shop etc when remote.
Do you find the Placement Passport group and social media an important part of the Rural and Remote nursing experience?
I find both of these equally important. To be honest, what I find hard at times is the loneliness. I am feeling it now actually as we’ve just had Christmas and New Year where I was working whilst my family was in NZ. Life will be so much easier once the borders are open, as then there is balance in the life of going home and coming back. I’m sure there are many of us in this position and it’s good to talk about it, support each other and remember to have fun too.
I find the social media aspect a good tool to feel part of the HCA team even if I don’t know anyone, I love seeing everyone’s photos as it gives me ideas on where to go next. I’m thinking Pilbara next then Queensland but will wait and see what happens with our good ole mate covid first.
Stay tuned for part 2 next month. If you’re a Kiwi nurse you can read more about coming over to Australia to work with HCA HERE.
— Vanessa P