Well I've been on Elcho Island a week and a half and will be leaving on Friday to head back to the centre to another community, Yuendumu. This contract has been a little different from most as I have been doing outreach work rather than working in a clinic all the time. I had hoped at the start I would be visiting the out stations most days but circumstance dictated I only did 2 trips last week. One by light plane back to the mainland to a community call Mapurru and one by 4 wheel drive to the northern end of the island, approx 60 klm. We visited 2 communities that day, Banthula and Gawa although due to a large funeral taking place at Galiwinku there were no people at Banthula. The road that runs up the centre of Elcho is a dirt track which isn't that bad except during the wet season and takes just over an hour to traverse.
The funeral at Galiwiku has been going on all last week as it was for a man that was very famous in these parts for his singing but I won't name him for cultural reasons. Every day and just about all day there has been singing and dancing down at the football oval where shade houses have been erected. The sound of the clap sticks can be heard all over Galiwinku and depending on the wind direction the drone of the didjeridu and singing.
Today we are to do the drive up to Gawa again as the plane we were to take to another community is in for repairs, hope they do a good job! For the next 3 weeks the service has a doctor so we need to visit all the outstations while the doctor is with us for review of peoples meds etc. Also the dental team is here for 3 weeks as well so they will be driving with us in their vehicle to spend the rest of the week at Gawa catching up on dental checks.
Galiwinku is pretty well serviced with 2 larger and 2 smaller stores for food. The 2 main ones are open every day from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM which is amazing. There is mobile reception in Galiwinku which extends quite a way into the surrounding areas. The main pastime here is fishing of course, too bad I'm not that much into it so haven't tried my luck. I have had a vehicle to use while I'm here as I also have been on call since arriving for after hours emergencies. The only drawback is that I have to have the on call phone with me all the time and have to stay in mobile range the whole time so....
Not many call outs though just a dog bite to a child at a closer outstation one night about 8:00PM. Should have been a straight forward call except while tending to the bite a young mum brought her 12 month old baby to me along with an empty bottle of Domestos bleach. Mum said the baby had tried to drink the bleach a few days ago and she had large white alkali burns to her bottom lip and tongue. That amplified the situation quite a bit so entailed bringing them into Galiwinku a full assessment, phone call to the on call doctor and a plane flight for them to Gove hospital. All well in the end though as Mum and Bub are back home after couple of days in hospital.
So only 3 sleeps till flying to Alice Springs via Darwin then the 3 hour or so drive to Yuendumu. I have a few nights in Alice though before driving out, not sure if Jo will be able to drive in and pick me up or if they are sending me out on Monday with a driver. Anyway what will be will be...but for now I've got to pack the "Troopy" with all the gear for todays visit.