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My first Barra

I think I can safely count on one hand the number of times that I’ve been fishing. In fact the times I did it would have been best described as fish feeding. When it came to fishing it made more sense to me to go out the the river, dump in some bait, and pick up some fish and chips from the local on the way home. But I’m no longer a virgin fisherman, I caught my very first fish, this little Barra. Unfortunately he was under the allowed ‘keeping’ size so he got to live another day. One of the girls I worked with at Pormpuraaw and her husband took me out on their tinny to do some barra hunting and croc spotting. Frankie, the RN I work with, told me the secret to fishing up a good barra, you have to whinge about how tedious fishing is. She got the catch of the day, a whopping 850 cm. Mine (pictured) was not much to speak of, but made me feel like I’d achieved something that day. Frankie and her husband are also the ones who netted some great crabs I got to be spoilt on. They were also exceptionally kind enough to share some of the Frankie’s catch with me, I’m so looking forward to that one. I feel so blessed to have meet the kindness of such people.

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Pormpuraaw Croc

They don’t post crocidile warning signs for nothing. One of the ‘attractions‘ at Pormpuraaw is the crocidile farm. There are also a number of these babies which hang out on the banks and in the waters of Pormpuraaw. The one pictured here is a small sample. Myself and one of the other RNs saw a fella much bigger, we reckon it was easily 17 ft. We were both glad that he was one other other side of the river and there was a large drop between us and the water. One of the other RNs and her husband took me fishing and we saw this fella along with a number of others. So I can safely say now that those warning signs are not just to make the place look colourful. So if you are in the water, beware, and remember what they say – never smile at a crocodile.  

Baby Taipan

The Taipan is said to be Australia’s largest, fastest moving and the world’s most deadliest snake, I was only inches from it. One of the fellows I was working with noticed this little guy wandering around our driveway. I went and grabbed my camera and the guy thought I was nuts getting up close and personal for this picture. He said it was venomous but I had not realised how so until I Wikipediad ‘Taipan’ and found out.

See the entries on Taipans at, The Reptile Park, Bushman Films and of course in Wikipedia. Note in the Wikipedia entry that the snake was named from a word used by the Wik-Mungkan Aboriginal people of the Cape York Peninsula; the Mungkan people are one of the groups in Pormpuraaw.  

A few days early, but I’m off again to Pormpuraaw. It seems a little weird driving two days back from Charters Towers only to do my washing and get on a plane to fly back up FNQ. My head feels as though it is still spinning from my time at ASSG. Usually I need at least a week to process my trip to Souls. It will be a challenge to rush straight from that into another three weeks of nursing. Though I am looking forward to my time at Pormpuraaw. Just driving back into Brisbane city trafic the other day reminded me of how much I’m beginning to dislike the busyness of suburban – city life and how much I enjoy the slower pace of places like Charters Towers and Pormpuraaw. I like them because they give time to think and to be. Something which seems to be sadly lacking of opportunity in the ‘big smoke’.

Pormpuraaw arial view

Pormpuraaw from the air (click to enlarge) 

Well today it’s back to the big smoke, noise and busyness of Brisvegas. I took this picture as I was leaving Pompuraaw. You can see that it is located on the coast of the Peninsula and that it is not a large town by any means. I will miss the quietness of the town and the people I met and worked with there. However, it is certainly not my last visit. I look forward to my next trip later next month. It feels kind of weird when one gets on a small plane and leaves a small airstrip only to arrive at a large airport to get onto a large plane. As I was getting into the line with loads of other people to book in for my Brisbane flight I realised how much I shall miss being a part of a small community. I shall miss my little hermitage. However, I take with me the experiences I had and know that they will give me food for thought in the coming weeks as I reflect on finding the balance between contemplative and active prayer. 

Nathan in Pormpuraaw

As much as I love the clinical work here, it is still always good to get some free time. Fortunately all my on-calls have had no call backs; so far. This has meant I have not been as exhausted as previously experienced here. The other RNs have not been so fortunate.

Today however, it was time to head of to see the sights, not much to see, more like a walk to the beach is all. One of the RNs was taking her dog, and a dog (horse) she was minding for a walk so we headed off to the beach. She did the short trip as she was flying out that day for Cairns. I continued on out to the southern point of the beach. There are a few campers in town so the camping site has been cleaned up and looks great. Unfortunately one of the fellows has not had such a good holiday. He was mauled by a pack of dogs and had several scrapes and bites to both his legs. We have been treating him for the last week. Though he and his wife were still up at the camp ground, determined not to let the events completely ruin their holiday.

I finally got to see a croc out in the live. Though could not get a good picture of him / her as it was on the opposite bank of the river. I’m happy that it was on the other side. I’m not sure I’d want to end up its breakfast. Without a car here there is not a lot to see, just the town. But it was nice to just wander around, watch the RFDS and Macair plane come in; I know exciting life when you walk down to the airstrip to see planes land. But it was a perfect day for a wander none the less.

Pormpuraaw Crab

No I didn’t catch it myself. One of the things I like about living in a small community is the close ties one develops with people in the community. Last night one of the nurses I work with came over with this wonderful delight. She had been out camping and fishing with friends. They had one more crab than they could handle so brought it over wondering if I wanted it. Well, talk about all your Christmasses coming at once. I was like a child in a lolly shop. Grabbing a rather large heavy knife I cracked away and devoured the entire crab. And a sizeable one it was too. The meat was awesome.

It feels really good when you realise that other people are thinking about you, and offer you a gift that lets you know that they are not only thinking about you but have listened to you when you have been talking with them. I was certainly grateful for this little fellow. My taste buds certainly enjoyed it.

Well life in the remote parts of Australia continue. I have certainly enjoyed the opportunity to once again visit a place where hospitality and welcome is such a precious commodity.

Pormopuraaw Town Centre

Pormpuraaw is a small remote indigenous community on the west coast of the Cape York Peninsula. In 1938 it was established as the Edward River Mission by the Anglican Church. In 1967 the Church handed over administration of the community to the Queensland Government. In 1986 an elected Community Council assumed responsibility for, and gained title over, the land. The following year, in 1987, the community was renamed Pormpuraaw; after a local dreamtime story. The community predominantly consists of members of the Thaayorre and Mungkan people. Remarkably traditional language usage remains strong; even among children whose first language is often a local language, with English being a second or sometimes third language. There is also an active conservation of culture passed on from the Elders to younger generations.

The Pormpuraaw Primary Health Care Centre is staffed by registered nurses and aboriginal health workers. It provides 24 hour primary health care and emergency services. The Royal Flying Doctor Service  also provide emergency and primary health care services to the town of Pormpuraaw. RFDS clinics are conducted two days a week and arrange evacuation of people with serious illness or injury during the rest of the time. Nurses and health care staff work closely with the RFDS in the assessment, management and treatment of clients presenting to the clinic, as well as people with chronic illnesses. Clinic staff have 24 hour access to RFDS on call doctors via telephone.

Nursing in this context is both rewarding and challenging. It enables nurses, and health care staff, to develop a certain amount of autonomy and independence not experienced in mainstream health facilities. It also requires nurses and health care staff to be able to act quickly and decisively in emergent situations to liaise with the RFDS on call team to provide pre-hospital care for the sick or seriously ill patient. Given that definitive care may be at least 1 1/2 hour away this can be a very challenging situation. However, it is precisely this challenge that makes working in this type of position exciting and rewarding.

Google Map Links to Pormpuraaw 

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Diary Dates

9/5 - 11/5 Formation Intensive, SFC