Sunday 23 December 2007

Christmas Party Fun

A typical day in our busy Emergency Department.....

This was so silly, but such good fun!

Monday 26 November 2007

South African Monopoly

Madam and Eve is a comic strip created in the 'New South Africa' era. Over the years the strip has raised other social and political issues in a humorous way.

Shortly after reading Bongi's series about patient's lies,
"...suddenly someone opened the door of their car and shoved a gun in his face. this is a common or garden hijacking and happens with alarming regularity in our country...."

I came across this Madam and Eve comic strip. It's just so sad that this is actually funny 'cos it's true!

Tuesday 2 October 2007

The Cliche of Broome

I don't think there is a brochure or coffee table book about the kimberley that doesn't have at least one photograph of a camel train walking along Cable Beach.

Australia has a few million camels and the only feral heards on earth. Almost all of Australias camel are in the red centre and only here in the Broome area does their range include the coast. So we decided to do the quintessential Broome activity and ride these ugly beasts along the beach and watch the anything but ugly sunset.

Friday 28 September 2007

I shouldn't be allowed near computers.

Our wireless connection hasn't worked for the past 4 weeks.

We would fire up the lap-top and patiently wait for it to connect to the internet only to be told time and time again that "No wireless connection could be detected"

I tried everything - turning off all firewalls, repairing the connection, moving the computer from room to room, microsofting (aka rebooting)... to no avail.

So yesterday I took a very deep breath and called our service providers technical support. They were very polite and went over the problem systematically:

Techie: "Do you have Windows XP, or Windows 2000?"

Me: "Mmmm, I don't know....It's a relatively new computer, only a year old..."

By now the techie has figured out that I'm an idiot.

Techie: "Is the wireless key on the computer switched on?"

Me:"Ummm, yeah I think so.... is there an actual switch? Cos if there is, I haven't switched it off"

Techie: "Look on the computer, there should be a switch"

At this point I've lifted the laptop up and am looking all over and around it, when I notice the wireless switch,... and it's off!

So I switch it on and then say...

Me:"OK, I've found the switch and it is on"

Techie: (Realising that I'm lying through my teeth) "OK, switch it off and then switch it back on again"

Me:"Wow, that worked! It's detecting the wireless connection! Fantastic, thank you so much. It's that darn Microsoft, always having to switch things off and on again to make them work!"

Techie: (Rolling his eyes, thinking 'Yeah, blame the software!') "You're welcome, anytime"

Saturday 18 August 2007

135 million year old footprints

There are many things ancient about this land.
The oldest exposed rocks on earth are just south of us. The oldest life forms, stromatolites survive in a few isolated pockets on earth, near here. And much later residents of this land, dinosaurs, trampled this terrain about 135 million years ago, and only recently, an estimated 40 thousand years ago did humans bother to settle here, bringing a hunter-gatherer culture that remained relatively unchanged until the very recent arrival of centrelink and grog.

The Broome area has one of the worlds highest concentration of dinosaur footprints per species. Most of which are well hidden to the average tourist, the occasional one which was pointed out to eager amateur palaeontologists by aboriginal guides and promptly drilled from the earth and disappeared into the fossil black market. Leaving the local aboriginals with a profound distrust of keen foreigners eager to find other footprints. Yes, I too am surprised to here that there is an underground world where organised crime and palaeontology mix.

There are other prints that are guarded by the ocean, hidden under salt water for millions of years, exposed on extreme low tide to breathe when the moon is just right and the water retreats a depth of about ten metres and croc shoes on German feet trample exactly where Cretaceous Carnivores did eons ago.

One of our little towns draw cards are the Dinosaur Footprints near the peninsula past boulders and slippery rocks, visible on the occasional negative low tide for several minutes before been swallowed by the blue Indian Ocean, until next time.

So, like good foreigners we rose at dawn to trek over the slippery rocks, fall onto barnacles, photograph the footprints and watch the salt water wash the rocks clean of fresh blood from stubbed toes and grazed hands.

Monday 25 June 2007

On a Lighter Note

After all the seriousness of the previous two posts I thought I needed a refreshing of spirit.
So I did a BlogThing:

Your Brain is Purple

Of all the brain types, yours is the most idealistic.
You tend to think wild, amazing thoughts. Your dreams and fantasies are intense.
Your thoughts are creative, inventive, and without boundaries.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking of fictional people and places - or a very different life for yourself.

Sunday 17 June 2007

The Daily Rant

I dream of the realization of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses.
Nelson Mandela

The love for Africa runs in my blood... It's in the quickening of my pulse as I spot a Gemsbok in the Desert on Google Earth, the sharp intake of breath as I turn into a Jacaranda lined avenue in Pretoria in all it's purple glory, the smell of the Bushveld in the morning or the Cape Fynbos...

I'm often asked where I'm from and I proudly say 'South Africa' and I see the surprise in the Curious eyes: "But you speak English so well!"
I should, it's my first language
"But you don't look Black"
That's because I'm not...but it doesn't mean that I'm not an African.

A commentator on Other Things Amanzi's blog hoped that "freedom will come to Africa's nations"
Freedom for which nations I ask?... For the Poor and downtrodden, from the Government that they themselves Democratically elected to rule, but who later turned out to be Despots.
Or freedom for those who were never the Oppressors, but who are now not allowed to call themselves African simply because they're not Black.

And I find myself trying to redefine myself over and over again, because I refuse to be categorized by my skin. Because I was Poor and Downtrodden, but by my sheer determination have risen above it to be who I am today.
But in Africa, the continent I love, I am put in a box that is labeled "NOT Black", and therefore unworthy of promotion, unworthy of being called comrade, unworthy of being called African.

We came to Australia because we tired of being constantly classified and discriminated against because of the colour of our skin, but found that here, we have to classify every patient we see based on the colour of their skin. (It's not that easy to do here - I've met plenty of Blonde, Blue Eyed, proudly Aboriginal Australians).
Here, it's refreshingly not a racist issue, it's simply a way to ensure that funds are allocated where they are needed - to the poor, downtrodden and under served!
So we will continue to love Africa, and proudly sing Nkosi Sikelel iAfrika every time the Springboks play.
God Bless Africa, may Her Glory be lifted high!

Monday 28 May 2007

Ah, But your Land is Beautiful

This is a guest post from my friend "Dr M Trapped in the NHS":

Just finished work.. well more like didn't do much work today and now heading off home. Been an ok day.. removed a splinter and sutured some i have served humanity in the best possible way.
Yet somehow it all feels so empty.. where are the days when we really made a difference.. where we decided on life and death situations.. where you could see the effect your presence or absence had in an institution?
Gone... with all the fun, prestige and pride in being a doctor.
Besides.. they are talking of pay cuts.. debanding, job losses and cutbacks.
Take away the financial incentive and this is a dead end job.
But there is hope at the end of the tunnel.. That is realising that in order to be fulfilled you have to serve a purpose..You have to have a vision and a goal and be willing to work towards that... That is the easy part..
The hard work comes in finding your goal and vision and staying focused in achieving them.
we went to a talk at amnesty international UK yesterday .. by a photographer Stuart something.. on the effects of war and poverty in Africa .. and the boy soldiers of sierra Leone and Angola.. how pathetic.. the whole auditorium was idealistic Eu members and R and I were the only true Africans.
All we heard was how dangerous and how impoverished and militant africa is ... The sympathy was just sickening.. and sometimes i fear that Africa actually rejoices in her poor pathetic status and enjoys being a symbol of despair , hopelessness and anarchy.
Let Africa stand PROUD.. yes there is Death and Aids and violence .. but that is no reason to give up and accept that as normality.Let Africa reclaim her right as a dark, savage continent yet capable of great acts of mercy and as captivatingly beautiful as she is Desolate.There is no middle ground in Africa... That would be mediocre.. ..Africa is as unpredictable as a bipolar who defaults lithium... Riding high on promises of hope then plunges down to the pits of despair as promises are inevitably broken.
So i left .. feeling a slight twinge of betrayal and cowardice..
betrayal for i have not spoken up and said.. You know we do have satellite in rustenburg and we are just as educated as any EU member and we have had the first heart surgery in this dark , savage continent and were actually the cradle of humanity as we know it and yes we are proud of our history ( albeit it is violent and despairing at times) but we can achieve greater things if only we were not smothered in blankets of pity and self loathing.
Cowardice... cause how can i be the one to speak for Africa when i am thousand of miles away.. living in a country that offers me far greater security, financial stability and intellectual stimulation. How can i bet he self appointed ambassador for the Great Continent and all its woes? And how , if at all, will i be able to challenge these hippy dressed, dope smoking, idealistic fools who probably spent more hours of their lives in relief camps and volunteer clinics in Africa, and who have come across the misery of our Great continent face to face and have stood up to the challenge and triumphed in all probabilities .. to open the next clinic or run the next volunteer camp or supply the next hunger stricken village with essential life saving supplies?
How can I , who has not even met a boy soldier before in my life .. have anything to say about Africa?
So we had some wine.. the orange juice was finished . and we gracefully exited the building.

I fought bravely against Foxtel.....but...

When we first moved to Broome we didn't have a TV.
It was nice.
We would have deep meaningful conversations over dinner, really listen to each other. We were experiencing the Honeymoon period all over again.

All that changed one fateful morning on our way to church. Hubby spotted an advert for a Garage Sale. Now he comes from a long line of Garage Sale Freaks. His uncle Down South, actually scours the papers every week for Garage Sales and is frequently found to be muttering "I can't believe they're throwing this away. Once I hunt down the three hundred essential missing pieces I'm certain I can fix this..." or "An inflatable dartboard! I can definitely use this." My Father-in-Law travels to Sweden every year for "Loppis" (Swedish garage sales and second hand junk stores). He of course also spends time with his son and grandson too, but he's not fooling anyone, we know he's there mainly for the "Fantastic Bargains"......

Anyway, so we picked up a TV and surround sound system which of course was the end of conversation around the dinner table. Until I sneakily went off and bought a Hard Drive/DVD player/recorder. Now all shows during dinner get recorded to be watched on our own time.
I must admit that most of my soap operas are on during dinner time (Desperate Housewives, Lost and Grey's Anatomy. I found myself defending my addiction to Grey's Anatomy by saying that I watch it for the surgery scenes...which is kind of like a guy saying he reads 'Playboy' for the articles!)

Of course now that we had a TV, surround sound and a DVD player, Hubby started pushing for Foxtel. My argument that we didn't need 900 channels when we barely watch the 5 channels we already have held him at bay for a couple of months.... Until two South African rugby teams were in the semi-finals for the Super-14 tournament and both won. This was a first ever - two South African teams head to head in an international tournament. The argument was won. The application for Foxtel was made on the Monday and the dish installed by Thursday.

Rugby fans everywhere will testify that it was an amazing match. I was busy doing the Dance of Joy in the 80th minute when my team (the Natal Sharks) had basically won. The commentator then uttered the fateful words "Only a converted try now could take victory away from them" Guess what? In the 81st minute the Blue Bulls scored a try and converted it to win the Super-14.... I' m consoling myself by saying that it's not as much a loss for the Sharks as it is a win for South African Rugby!

And to prove me right the Springboks thumped England 58 - 10 in the Summer Tour. It's looking to be a good year for South African Rugby

Sunday 29 April 2007

Ankle Deep in the Garden

Broome has two seasons - "The Wet" from October until April and "The Dry" - April until October. We were told that the worst time of the year to be in Broome is during the Wet, as the humidity is so high with temperatures reaching up into the upper thirties.

I pictured driving rain every day. An umbrella in my handbag an absolute necessity... Imagine my surprise when we had just two rainy days our first month here.
Then Cyclone George starting developing off the West Australian coast, followed closely by Cyclone Jacob. Fortunately they both passed us by only to devastate the communities South of us in Port Hedland. We were lucky and just received strong winds and heavy rainfall.

The dog was most surprised at the development of a swimming hole in his playground but by the afternoon it had all dried up again!

Cabin Fever

Hubby succumbs to cabin fever quite easily. Never content to veg in front of the box on a weekend off, he bundled me into the car for a drive. It was such a perfect day.

'Wow!' was the overused expression of the day.
This is just such a gorgeous town.

We love living here!
At a recent conference we were told that it was difficult to attract doctors to a rural area, like the Kimberley, as doctors are choosing jobs based on the lifestyle it offers....

I think we really chose well.

Saturday 24 March 2007

The Kimberley

The Kimberley, one of the most desolate places on the planet, a population density similar to northern Alaska, where remote family groups are classified as communities. People here live much the same as their ancestors did 40 thousand years ago, except now if they need medical treatment, the charity funded Royal Flying Doctors Service will airlift them to the nearest appropriate facility, several hundred kilometres away or to the state capitol, which is well over two thousand kilometres away. All they need to do is get to the nearest airstrip, which in itself can be several hours drive depending on how much rain fell and how bad the roads are. Often the gravel airstrips are damaged in the wet season and the small planes can only land on the government funded tar airstrip, which is obviously, a further drive on terrible tracks.

This is the mythically beautiful land that we now call home, albeit we’re in the relatively crowded town of Broome on the extreme edge of the Kimberley, on a flat spit of land stretching out into the Indian Ocean, a peninsular reaching west towards Africa, recognising the relationship between the idiosyncratic Boab and Boabab trees of the two ancient lands. Legends in Black Africa and Aboriginal Australia both speak of a tree being planted upside down.

This is the land we had to see, Buccaneer archipelago shatters into thousands of uninhabited islands, many hidden by the rising 10 metre tides, some have remnants of dwellings, hinting to a time when people lived purely off the land and sea, whose descendants now walk the streets of towns, looking at the wares for sale, listening to the spirit of Jack Daniels more than the spirit of the land. Some island have remnants of more recent visitors, footprints and tackle, from the adventurous big game fisherman who stopped to camp between hunting these waters for that elusive sailfish. Occasionally these waters give up a sailfish, the biggest ever landed was landed here.

This is picture perfect paradise, white beaches and sunshine, where you can discover another secluded beach every day, where the sun is statistically more carcinogenic than any other country, where the water harbours sharks and even several species of stinging jellyfish which swarm and envenomate their prey with deadly cardio toxins. The most notorious of which is the Irukanji, which is practically invisible in water but deadly to humans. The land, rivers, estuaries and sea is home the Salt Water Crocodile, the planets biggest reptile. Some the planets deadliest snakes also live here. Perhaps it’s obvious why this is the second most sparsely populated place on Earth.

Perhaps it’s also obvious why we went to look by means of a light plane, well out of striking range of the Western Brown Snake, where our only worry was the weather, and a third cyclone in as many weeks was pretty unlikely.

Come to the Kimberley and Good Luck

Friday 9 March 2007


We took a dawn walk the other day.
It was extreme low tide and the sea had retreated some kilometres.
The sun was just rising as we walked out to sea not knowing what we would find.
We'd heard about Flying boat wrecks from WWII. In 1942 Japan had taken control of South East Asia and the invasion of the Dutch East Indies (present day Indonesia) was imminent. Dutch and other Allied civilians from Java were airlifted to the safety of Western Australia's shores to escape the Japanese invasion. Broome was the obvious landing point being only 900 kilometres away from Java.
Tragedy struck one early morning in March. Japanese Zero Fighters attacked the Flying boats, Allied transporters and bombers. The attack was completely unexpected and devastating. 25 aircraft were destroyed. Those that survived the attack had to contend with the burning fuel and oil on the water and sharks. Few survived.

Puppy scampered on ahead chasing the tide. We struggled on battling the deceptively wet sand, sometimes sinking ankle deep. Occasionally we came upon a starfish that had been abandoned by the sea. I felt like we'd walked ten kilometres already.

And then we saw it.
The first ravaged skeleton of a flying boat. Its body rusted by decades of salt water, exposed to the elements for a few hours before being sealed again in its ocean tomb.

Thursday 8 March 2007


I suppose the biggest change is that we moved to Australia.
We're living in rural Western Australia in the region known as the Kimberley.
It is a beautiful little town called Broome. Check it out on Google Earth or at
We're working in a little District Hospital about 40 hours a week (which is a big change from the 100 hour work week in SA and the 168hour work week in England!!) We're actually getting a chance to spend time with each other :)
Can you believe that I had to move half-way around the world to get to spend time with my husband!

Broome is quite a seasonal transient town - they have the major tourist season from April to October when the town's population swells from 11000 to 60000. Most people come to Broome and work for a year or two before moving on, so the question we get asked the most is "How long will you be staying?"
Our standard answer now is "Until we're locals" to which the response is a sardonically raised eyebrow're only considered a Broome local if you've lived there more than 20 years!

Amazingly enough - the two biggest problems in Broome are Unemployment and lack of staff!!!

There is a quite a big Aboriginal population here (as compared to the cities) but they're pretty transient too. Our patients are often just on a stop over in Broome whilst on their way elsewhere. The sad thing is we're seeing a lot of 3rd World diseases which we never expected to see in a First world environment. Also drug abuse and alcoholism is rife amongst all he races in this town - a common presentation is PFD (Pissed, fell down), however the incidents of assaults are really not that high... I suppose we expected more due to the alcoholism, but it seems the people prefer to drink themselves into a stupor rather than turning on each other with fists, knives, bottles, bones etc like in SA........
But.... the domestic violence is sad,
the high incidence of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is heartbreaking
and rape statistics just deplorable!

There has been a lot of talk about solving the 'Aboriginal Problem' but as yet no solutions exist. The first strategy that the Australians tried was attempting to exterminate them, then they tried assimilating them into the White Australian it seems they're attempting to just throw money at them in the hope that that will solve the problems.... Well Centrelink is pretty busy at the end of the month dishing out the dole - and the liquor store is pretty busy receiving the dole and the hospital and the cops are pretty busy with the end effects.... and the people are lying around in a drunken stupor on the oval whilst their kids sit around, dirty, uneducated and neglected.

When we first came to Aus, we thought that it was pretty sterile and felt that we would have to join 'Aus Doctors for Africa' to make any difference in the world, but it appears that there's plenty work to do right here.