Waitangi Day

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                                                  And the band played Pink Floyd…

 

     I’ve got a serious working week behind me…
    Actually I’ve worked on real sick people. Wow!

    Yesterday was Saturday, and I’ve got an invitation to the Gap Tavern because some Reggie music be played and they have good tucker too. Six of us went, but two more people joined us. We weren’t aware of the fact: it is the Waitangi Day, which is a Kiwi (New Zealander) National Holiday.
“…Waitangi Day (wye-tang-ee) commemorates a significant day in the history of New Zealand. It is a public holiday held each year on 6 February to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document, on that date in 1840…” (Wikipedia). Just like St Stephan’s Day in Hungary on the 20th of August.

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                                               The Gap Tavern and Patrons

The place was boring according to some of our group members, so the Reggie night suddenly transformed into a pub crawl… It has been decided, we must go to the Rock Bar. So we did. A have never seen this many Kiwis in one spot in my life. It also could’ve been an impromptu tattoo exhibition too… And all the crowd gathered together after 11pm! I’ve left with a Colleague before midnight serving as a personal guard. The public safety is not spectacular in Alice. So many people stayed over from the previous night football final (The All Black Aborigine Team played against some other) the streets were still crowded too.

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                                                              Healthcare

A bit of statistics: Alice Springs has approximately 25.000 inhabitants. A personally think they are equally divided between Aborigines and Kiwis… The township has 72 restaurants, bars and coffees.  92 liquor licences are in use in the town!
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                                                                   Room with view…

Billy Goat Hill and Todd River Walk

2nd and 3rd of February  2013.

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Billy Goat Hill

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                                                View of the Billy Goat Hill

    Another miserable night sleep… I can not remember to sleep in a more uncomfortable bed than this one in my room in Alice. I do like hard surfaces, but this one mixed with the comfort and spaciousness of a plank of wood… Beside to be up several time during the night, but it is a salvation to get out of it despite to be sleepy and tired… Ibuprofen is the answer…

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                                                 B & W impressions

    I am having this weekend off too. I am starting in my anaesthetic nurse role on Monday, finally!     
    I had to go try to colour my day with something interesting, and most importantly make photos to show my surroundings here in Alice…

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                                                          Colors

Next door to the hospital, is the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s (RFDS) Museum, in it’s original building. According to older Locals, their Cafeteria serves nice coffee with fine biscuits.

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                                    Royal Flying Doctor Services Museum
    

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                                              The Old Gaol behind RFDS

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        The Railway Crossing – Where the Ghan and Stewart Highway meets

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                                                 Industrial part of Alice

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                                                  Olive Pink Reserve

I am going slightly mad…
We’ve been told during orientation that if we extending our contracts, we need to move out of the nurses quarter. Not because we will be expelled, but for mental sanity. I am only here for little more than a week, but I feel that “you are in a mass of people but separated with the walls of your room”, totally isolated, not seeing who passes your door, no one to talk to… I have to go out, to the town, to walk or even grocery shopping to meet people. They called it “cabin fever”, I am calling it “trench panic”. Something will happen, inevitably but when, what is beyond your control. I just can not wait to start to work!

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                                                       River of sand

Had an early walk today too. I’ve calculated it around 6-8km, trying to conquer the East end of the town, that hill which is called the Olive Pink Flora Reserve. It’s a hill. Fenced around… Crossing the Todd River twice, discovered the sign that inform us River of Sand… So obvious.

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The public safety in Alice Springs aren’t that spectacular. After dark it is advisable to walk in groups, preferably larger than two… Many of the fences and gates in town looks more like prison yard than apart mans front. Many of them has proper barbing on the top…

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Many of the local Indigenous People gathering in the public parks living their social life there. Many of them even staying there during the night. Look strange for the city dwellers like me, but considering this their land, I only can accept it.

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I soon will need some sort of transport solution: a bike, a scooter or a wheelchair…
The distances are very limiting in discoveries. Also because longer distances need more water to be carried, this is also becoming as a limitation.

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                                                              My place of work

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                                             Street view without Google

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                               The “servants” of our “intellectual needs”

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                                       Real public phones in local style

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                                                          Gum trees

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                            And my favorite – but I hope it is not a prophecy!

ANZAC Hill

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Alice – Day 2.
I had an early rise today again. Must have been caused by the strange, not yet identified noises. Today, I was smarter by not to get into friendly greeting on the nurses quarter’s corridor. Yesterday, the response was more like a growl of an annoyed tigress… Well, getting up for the day shift early morning can bring it out from anybody…

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Last night I went out for a steak-chips-salad-and-beer for $12 dinner with another five colleagues to the one of the local water holes, called Crackers. The venue is better than average and yet again much better than anyone can expect from the geography. The meal was rather nice. My steak (call it more like freshly hunted blood dripping zebra slice, I don’t like it over cooked…) But it was full of flavour, the chips was juicy and the salad crisp, good on them! I managed to swap my beer to a very pleasant house Shiraz, I can not drink liquid gluten…
Walked home after dark through the Todd Mall, indulging with an ice-cream. The street didn’t seemed to be very busy, but started to have a kind of vibe.

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I made my plan for the day: I must go and see the ANZAC Hill Memorial. A small hill leaning over the middle of Alice. Probably just before sunset, trying to catch the “golden hour” to take photos before the Sun sinks into the red dust of the Outback… Plans are to be changed: I felt like I must do something physical, life is to short to sit in the room, let’s go now! It was 8.30am but the temperature was already 29 Centigrade, with a mild breeze. By 9 am I have conquered the hill. The view was breath taking. The breeze was much stronger, I had to cling to my cap or it would gone with the wind only stopped by Uluru…
On the top of the hill sits the ANZAC Memorial (ANZAC stands for Australia/New Zealand Army Corp) and their better known event was the WWI landing at the shores of Gallipoli, Suvla Bay, Turkey on the 25th of April 1915. It was an utter tragedy, as these ANZAC troops were mowed down even before they reached the shore. Ever since this is the day to pay respect to the Veterans and Active Armed Service’s Men and Women. Since attached all the fallen of the following wars: Malaya, Korea, Vietnam and so on.

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I walked back to the Todd River crossing… Listening to the news in the last couple of days in relation to the cyclone, torrential rain, the floods AGAIN, and see the “Todd River” – River of Sand – is a bit mind boggling…

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                                                       Todd river crossing

I’ve took couple of snapshots on the way to walk back to the nurse’s quarter, mainly surprising or to what I used to see. The supermarket, Coles, has large mural – wall painting – on it’s side wall, mixing Aborigine themes with almost socreal style of the 50’s.

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                                                 Ad lib after Siqueiros

Tomorrow is my first day as actual working day. Not “real one” as yet, two days of orientation in the pipeline. Since the Indigenous Orientation is exactly a month away I have to brace myself to the typical “boring as bat-poop” two days of struggle to stay awake… Administrative tasks, manual handling, infection control, computer tasks, TrendCare, security, drug calculation, paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork…

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              Heavy security guards us, but we still have the key to get out…

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                                            The West MacDonell Ranges

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                            Bath Street – the road towards the Airport

So, this is it for today. Tomorrow I might growling too at the morning…

Alice, Arrival day

The flight was totally uneventful, thanx for the pilot. The plane was about 60% filled, passengers had to be relocated to the 4 emergency exits to man them if needed.
The view from the plane is just stunning! But more like Martian than Earthly.
The 15min trip from the Airport to the town took almost an hour because we had to stop 3 times before my destination… Funny that we’ve pulled up to all driveways to drop
off the others, but my driver lady claimed she is not allowed to stop for 1minutes at the hospital main entrance – Oh no, not at the Emergency or Ambo Bay! – so she dropped me off 100 meters away on the other side of the road… I just loved it: the two suitcases already beaten – the Flying Kangaroo’s – Qantas baggage handlers did a stunningly swell job! – and I had to drag them on the street on the “Alice Standard” walkway, on their small airport-carpet-design wheels… Wasn’t a pretty sight or experience…

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As I walked across the hospital yard – pretty big – trying to find the Nurses Quarter because there is not a single signage telling me where I am, two young lads were walking towards me, I grabbed the opportunity to orientate myself. I’ve learned, I am standing right front of my building, one of them OPENED THE DOOR FOR ME! (Either very polite, or I am started to look so old even a new age meterosexual male feel obliged to support me….LOL!) But he informs me too, that across the yard behind the buildings is the pool and a party is on, please feel invited!
Wow! That’s a nice introduction.
So I’ve dragged my luggage into a hallway which gave you no name but room numbers only. Having not knowing the system, you don’t know if your number is not there: is it because it is not here or is it because different place/building – this hallway is actually the common hallway for three different buildings… And off course the corridors are empty! And guess what? I know now – the main hallway is the body of the butterfly, but the stairwells are in the far tips of the wings!
So dragged my pile to the room, dropped the luggage, lock the door and off I went for a discovery. It would be nasty to claim: it is unlivable. I think it rather superb, and score about 3.5-4 Stars of of 5. In relation to the geographic location, this may be 5.

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I’ve spent my day with unpacking, and set up my Communication Center… Works perfectly.
It was like 2pm when I realized, I had nothing to eat or drink since the planeand I didn’t even had a coffee because I don’t have milk…
Let’s find a guide who can guide me to SHOPPING CENTER. Now I know where Woollies is.  About a km away in a strait line. Spent about an hour in it trying to find things. Not even Woollies are the same nowadays… I’ve spent about $80 for basics: milk (long life – 1L cartoons) yoghurt, gluten free bread, butter, bacon, cheese, cooking oil, laundry liquids, eggs (eggs: $6 for a dozen in A/S!) wine (the beer cost pittance, but the wine is $10.99 for the cheapest!) I’ve dragged all these home, I need new shirts, my arms are 50cm longer… Than I’ve got home and realized that I forgot my water! I had a Britta filter in my hand in the first woollies-visit, but NOT ONE PERSON was able to tell me if there any fluoride is in the water, but they told me that the calcium level is so high, it is unhealthy. Bravo. The fluoride can not be taken out with the Britta, but the calcium is the dream of the Britta makers, because only the sludge water would clog the filter faster than the calcium… BTW. I wouldn’t want to be a dishwasher in Alice… So, I had to go back for the 10L water, the pegs, the basket… 
When I’ve got back, my arm already scraped on the pavement, and I was clinically dehydrated… Coffee, coffee, coffee before chatty chatty chatty…

I’ve started to mingle with the new arrivals to the kitchen. Kiwi-kiwi-Irish-Perth-Kiwi-Adelaide config… It was a very interesting discussion.

Then – it was about 5.30 when I’ve decided to visit the pool, I had to return to the kitchen for guidance, because by now I felt like blindfolded, put into a roller coaster, kicked on the arse and spanned 15 times… I don’t know now where the pool is…
Sufficient guidance took me to the entrance, then I’ve followed the laughter and the music… The pool are was filled with the Young Ones. I was loitering around, knowing nobody – I felt like your friend invites you to a party, you turn up, he/she not… And you are the perfect stranger….

There was a pool party on Friday because the cricket, then Yesterday – Saturday – was Australia Day, tomorrow? Will be for some other reason… I wasn’t sure who manned the wards because it seemed everybody is at the pool side under 40 – except yours truly… Scottish/SriLankan/Irish/Kiwi/AUSSIE and any member of the UN… The “beach house” called Chairman Buthros-Buthros Ghali Coctail Bar (The UN Sec.Gen.)
Later I went to bed. I am definitely getting older, as I am very sensitive about bed and pillow firmness. This one was so so: I’ve only woke middle rotten, but there is no bad bed that 800mg of Ibuprofen PO. can not fix…
I will have a proper meal today, I’ll go with the over 40’s tonight at Crackers – 6pm – for a $12 steak and chips and salad and beer (red wine for me) dinner with the “walking bus”  (Local term when group of hospital staff walking like a  chain gang after dark – considering safety.)
So, here we go. Have a nice day.Image

Looks like the Nazca lines from the air

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Riverbeds – filled by sand

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Pool sizzler after 6pm

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Buthros-Buthros Ghali Coctail Bar…

Years, dreams and aims

Countdown time…
Ahoy Alice Springs tomorrow.
I am excited, and I am nervous. My first and last assignment with my current Company was in a very pleasant ocean shore holiday town, Hervey Bay, Queensland. It has represented everything that I can expect from good place to live. Walking distances, relaxed people and exceptional colleagues at work. My Family let me go with a mission: make Friends. I did. My contract has finished suddenly like when the film ran out from the projector… Span couple of times but nothing more. There was Christmas Eve, packed up and drove home. I only had to drive 350 odd kilometers…
Waited long weeks, beyond expectations. Not a pleasant period when “no work, no money” is the rule. The earlier declined contract suddenly turned very attractive. So, here I am.
Suitcase packed, boarding pass is printed, all pix from the Net has been seen, all articles from the search engines been red. 3.000km on road, 3.5hours with the Flying Kangaroo from Brisbane. Stats are facts.
I have to take a briefcase full of documents although only crossing an imaginary state line while not even passport needed… Well, those servants of the Public need justification for existence.
So, will have a nice – hopefully – sleep and say goodbye to the doorway…
See you from Alice, hopefully with some pics.