Time moves on in Yuendumu and as usual when we start to get close to our finish date we start to count the days. Moving on seems a part of life now and although there is an element of the unknown, there is also the element of expectations and excitement about a new place. To get through the next few weeks we have tried to have little things to look forward to, milestones sort of that divide the time into smaller chunks.
Last weekend we had Friday night and Saturday off so drove the 90 kms towards Alice Springs to the Tilmouth Well Roadhouse. We had booked a room here for the night and the idea was just to chill, have someone else cook for us and enjoy a drink or two. Which is just what we did. It's a lovely place, nothing fancy but a real oasis on the Tanami Road with green grass, a pool and a clean and pleasant eating area. The staff there are very friendly and the food, thought nothing exotic, was hearty and well priced.
The week prior to this sojourn was in one way lucky for us but just underscored the frustrations of working remote. Another smaller community nearby Yuendumu is Mt Allen or Yuelumu about 45 minutes drive away. The clinic there has been closed for some weeks as there had been no staff available to run it. Jo had travelled with one of the other nurses to Yuelumu a few times over that period just as a day trip to see anyone that needed to be seen.
Any serious after-hours emergencies would require two nurses to drive there in the dark, open the clinic or bring the person back to Yuendumu. That has been quite an extra load on the Yuendumu staff but Jo and I had been lucky enough not to have to do it. To add insult to injury, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) had decided that there was a safety issue with our airstrip here in Yuendumu and had closed the strip for evacuations. That meant any night time evacs had to be driven to Yuelumu which as well as being an extra work load was not the best handling of any seriously ill client.
Now the reason the Yuendumu strip was closed was......the grass was too long around the lights that run the edges of the strip and apron!!! I can appreciate the RFDS pilots having there safety standards and am in no way criticising their decision. The frustrating issue is that it took over a week for someone to decide whose job it was to cut the grass!!!!