New Farm Park, Brisbane

Monday, July 15, 2013

HALF WAY THERE

After lunch at the Hann River Roadhouse we continued on our trek to the tip of Australia. We rumbled along the dirt roads for miles and miles passing through cattle stations the size of small countries. We came to a smidgen of civilisation.

It was the Old Musgrave Telegraph Satation which was opened in 1886 and it was the half way telegraph station between Cairns and Thursday Island just off the tip of Australia. It operated for 100 years as a telegraph station. Now it is a hotel, shop and museum as well as a Flying Doctor Clinic.
 Our driver exclaimed, "There must be something happening here today. I have never seen so many people here before."(there was about a dozen). Then he saw the Flying Doctor's plane on the station's airstrip. Later we found out that it was clinic day, where people from outlying stations drive in to the station to see the doctor. The Royal Flying Doctor Service is a unique aero medical organisation which delivers emergency services and clinics in an immense area of sparsely populated Australia. The aircraft are equipped to provide airborne intensive care. Doctors, nurses and pilots are on call 24 hours a day. The Cairns base is the biggest in QLD and covers an area the size of Japan.

The children from outback stations come in to see the doctor wearing their good clothes except you can't keep country kids in shoes. These children probably only see each other occasionally. They do their schooling from home by "School of the Air" which used to be done by radio but now uses computers with an interactive two way broadband satellite connection.

 The children were waiting to wave goodbye to the doctor as he flew over their heads back to Cairns base.
There was another little plane just taking off after dropping off a patient who had been to Cairns for cancer treatment. The patient was actually Sue, the owner  of Lotus Bird Lodge where we would be sleeping that night. This plane belonged to a different organisation called Air Angels . They are privately owned planes of cattle station owners who donate the planes (when not in use) to take non emergency patients for treatment.

We followed Sue for a long way until we arrived in the late afternoon at Lotus Bird Lodge, another nice accommodation place in the middle of nowhere. There were a series of cabins situated on the edge of a lagoon.

 Before dinner we went for a walk around the lagoon. It is usually inhabited by many birds but we only saw a few. 

However it was a very pretty walk with the setting sun lighting up the trees.


We had a delicious home cooked meal in the open air dining room. We watched the kangaroos come in for a nightly feed of seed put out by the owners. There were 19 of us on the bus and we were the first  guests for this dry season. The Lodge is closed in the wet season like most other tourist destinations as the roads are impassable in the wet. This lodge was almost completely ruined in floods some years ago and had to be renovated.

 The next morning all the staff waved us goodbye. Gary and Sue were wonderful hosts and three young  girls who come from Sweden each season to work there. Gary and Sue regard them as family.
Weipa, on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria, was the next overnight stop.

31 comments:

  1. Lovely adventure. Like your photos.

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  2. This makes us all think twice about the services we have when we see and hear about life in some of our remote areas. It must be very hard on Sue. Another wonderful post Diane.

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  3. that is really wonderful to have the flying doctors.. and i love those cabins and the outdoor dining room.. and of course the best part of all would be the feeding kangaroos

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  4. love those kids! and we all romanticize about living in a remote location - until we think about medical care and treatments for serious diseases like cancer. bless those that keep this flying doctor program (and their planes) going!

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  5. That's really amazing that such lost places at the end of the world nearly, still exists ! When I compare to our overcrowded country !

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  6. Diane, the children are adorable! it is wonderful to have these flying doctors and the planes available to use! I would love to see the kangaroos coming in to be fed! Awesome photos, I learn so much ready your post!

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  7. I'm sure the children love every opportunity to get together with their friends! And computers really help, I bet. These folks are built of tougher stuff than I am made of. I can't imagine dealing with floods, damaged property, especially in such isolated conditions. You've really got to be able to take care of yourself in places like that. The cottages and dinner hut look like they were really nice. I read all about Flynn and the flying doctor service, many years ago. Fascinating, really.

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  8. I am really enjoying your holiday. There is such a contrast between my life and the ones you are sharing with us.Thanks for showing me such a different part of the world.

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  9. Wow, this is far-away stuff I read about in books as a child. I actually now follow a blog written by someone who lives on a cattle-station in Queensland. Not quite so remote as these places here, by the sound of it, but amazingly different from my life. Having cancer is hard enough without having to travel by air for treatment. I do hope Sue recovers well when she has been through the course.

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  10. great post, what an adventure
    to think of a fly in medical service covering an area the size of japan!
    and then i saw the cottages, very cool!

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  11. I remember years ago seeing a program of the kids who had to do their schooling via radio. It all sounded pretty wonderful to me. Loved this latest post and batch of photos, thanks Diane.

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  12. Great photos Diane and interesting commentary too. Thanks for sharing your journey (and for dropping by my blog). Have fun!

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  13. The Flying Doctor's sounds like a wonderful program. Living so far from medical services would be a little scary but knowing you had access to care would really easy the mind.

    I love those little cabins, what a wonderful place to stay.

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  14. Reading your comments on the doctor and the "School of the Air" was fascinating. I'd vaguely heard about these programs but was, frankly, surprised that they are still in existence. (Yes, dumb American here.) If I'd given it much thought I would have realized that both are still in great need in a country with as much empty area as Australia!

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  15. Talk about living in 'another' world. Life there has to be so different --for those who live there... Do they stay during the 'wet' season---or does everyone leave? Can't imagine being there when the roads are all closed and when there is flooding ... BUT--I guess the local people are used to it... Interesting post... Thanks.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  16. Oh, wonderful pictures and what a great adventure!

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  17. I don't have the words to express how envious I am of your trip and how much I'm enjoying living vicariously. And, imagine, the Flying Doctors were there for your visit, how fab! Love the portrait of the children of the north.

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  18. It is so interesting and great that the flying docters can reach the people who live so far away from everything. The photo of the kids is so cute, waving to the plane must be exciting for them.

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  19. In Charters Towers I had a great conversation with a lady who is a teacher with School of the Air, it was really interesting to hear how they are operating these days.

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  20. I remember learning about the Flying Doctor Service and Outback Australia in my social studies book when I was a kid (1950s)! Amazing to think there are still places in Australia remote enough to need this.

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  21. Hi Diane
    I have been following your blog for awhile and always enjoy your photos and commentary.
    I especially love this one as Sue is the sister of a good friend of mine and it was so lovely to see that you had a great time at Lotus Bird Lodge and that we saw a photo of Sue and Gary.
    Our group of friends did this trip 4 years ago and I am reliving our trip through your blog.
    Great to see the photos of Lotus as well.
    Enjoy the rest of your trip.
    Kim

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  22. Wow, amazing holiday! photographs looking nice and show holiday's enjoy. Great post written well.

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  23. I've always been fascinated by the Flying Doctor service and the huge area they cover. Nice to see it in "action". Loving the tour.

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  24. Great kids picture, when I was young, I always watched the Flying Doctors.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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  25. I like how you share information about how wonderful country along with awesome pictures

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  26. Itching to go back up there again, now that the kids are all adults. God bless the RFDS how many lives have they saved.

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  27. Well I can see you are really roughing it, I thought you would be sleeping in tents. What an amazing holiday.

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  28. Amazing images Diane! You're like a real life Indiana Jones!

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  29. Diane, a wonderful trip and you are such a great raconteur;

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  30. This trip is so very interesting. I'm glad you're sharing so much of it with us.

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  31. Lovely pictures and is quite something to think about those kids and their families...so isolated and living in what seems like another century, but they look so happy and healthy and perhaps there is a lesson in that.

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