Once a month the Barkly Mobile Clinic fly around many stations on the Barkly Tableland. You see we all live so far from town – 5 hours, 6 hours, 9 hours or even more. This is such a fabulous service and really quite convenient. The RFDS plane fly’s a Doctor & Nurse around the stations over the period of a few days. They overnight at certain stations.
The doctor can be from anywhere – Newcastle, the Sunshine Coast, Perth, Adelaide. This time our Doctor was Bruce and he was from Tassie. The Nurse is based at the Elliot town clinic, a tiny community in the middle of nowhere about 2 hours north of Tennant Creek. Our nurse this month was Charlotte and she is originally from Melbourne. Wow, what a culture shock it must have been moving to the NT and to such a remote tiny place such as Elliot. Our Pilot was Heather, she just commenced with the RFDS back in July and is originally from Victoria too. Heather is based down in Alice Springs.
From Left to Right: Bruce (Doctor), Heather (Pilot) & Charlotte (Nurse)
When they arrived there were a few storms lurking in the distance. I could hear the rumbling of thunder and had just quickly pulled all my clothes off the line due to the dark sky. I headed up to the Airstrip to collect them.
We only just managed to get everything in the car before the rain came pouring down. Oh so much rain. I couldn’t believe it. It was like it came out of nowhere. It absolutely teamed down.
We headed back to the station with our muddy shoes and had some lunch. There weren’t many patients for them to see. It was actually just just my kids. They have a couple of cuts that won’t heel so I thought it best to get them checked out. Isn’t it just so convenient that the Doctor and Nurse come to us… like our own private Plane, pilot, doctor and nurse! As DD would say “Better to be born lucky than rich, Dan!” … I totally agree DD. (FYI: DD is my wise Mum)
When the rain stopped I took Bruce, Charlotte and Heather over to our house, I mean what could be better than your own private medical crew than doing the consultation in your own lounge room! Yes please. Clancy wasn’t impressed and thought he might need his toe cut off. Turns out it was lucky we did get them checked out, they are both now on antibiotics and all sorted.
After the quick consultation we decided to head back up to the airstrip to check out the situation there and see if they could take off for the next station.
I was glad I had put my gumboots in the car last week, they came in very handy.
There were still a few storms around so we just waited up at the strip thinking they would soon pass. We did a couple of laps of the gravel strip and Heather inspected the turning bay – we use the term turning bay quite loosley….
The storm didn’t pass quite as planned. Once again it started pouring, we took cover in the car and headed back to the station through all the water. The water that was lying around from such a short downpour was just amazing.
Poor Bruce drew the short straw and had to brave the downpour and open/shut the gate.
So it was back to the kitchen to wait it out. They even helped me peel my veggies for dinner. I was sure they would be stuck here for the night, because: so much water! Our all weather airstrip (gravel) is only 700 meters but it was long enough to take off on.
This is the strip they landed on – it is our 1000 meter strip but isn’t all weather – as you can see…
This is obviously after the rain. Definitely NOT taking off on that one!!!
When the rain stopped Mr Chardy took Heather back up to the strip to suss out the situation once again. Yep – good to go. So we piled into the ute and buggy and headed up through all of the water. Looks like Charlotte drew the short straw this time and had to ride on the back of the ute. Yep, don’t worry Charlotte, you have definitely slotted into outback life ok.
They had managed to get the plane onto the gravel strip and it was ready and waiting in place.
And off they went… I was a little worried they weren’t going to make it off the strip in time as you can hear from my commentary. But all was good.
Heather got that PC-12 (note to self, don’t tell a pilot her plane is a King Air if it is a PC-12, sorry Heather, ha ha ha ha) up and away like a pro under difficult circumstances. Way to go!
So there you have it. Our brief but memorable doctor visit. Do you have any questions… please say hello in the comments section below and feel free to ask me anything, I do love a chat. No question is too silly.
What does your doctor visit look like?
Is there mud involved?
A private plane, pilot, doctor and nurse all to yourself?