By Kathryn Starkey, MD, and Molly Evans
We are currently enjoying Kathy’s seventh medical locum assignment and have adapted quite easily to our new location at the Top End of Australia.
As the cockatoo flies, we are closer to Papua New Guinea and Bali than Sydney! We arrived at the beginning of September, which is toward the end of the dry season. During the "dry", the weather is near perfect with warm temperatures and very little or no rain, so we're enjoying sunrise swims at the local Nightcliff Beach pool, sunset bike rides along the foreshore path, and alfresco dining at our beachfront condo (pictured at the end).
Everything seems perfect, except for the ever-looming “wet” season. The locals speak of a constant vigilance: Keeping mold and mildew from invading your home, leather shoes from disintegrating before your eyes, and restaurants and businesses from closing their doors. Once the monsoon or “tropco” rains do arrive, it’s more difficult to get around. The rains make rivers impassable and some areas inaccessible. During the "wet", the flooding also cuts off many remote bush communities (we're noticing an increased Aboriginal migration into the area). Alongside the rain, there are wild electric storms that turn the sky into a spectacular light show. Having survived hazardous snow blizzards at home, it should be interesting to live through this coming weather pattern.
We’ve also been busy exploring both Darwin City and the surrounding National Parks. A few weekends ago, we enjoyed a relaxing day at Litchfield National Park. The Park is known for two things: Its 2-meter tall termite mounds that point north-south (to minimize sun exposure) and its waterfalls with their beautiful, cool swimming plunge pools. We enjoyed swimming at Wangi Falls, but as the floods arrive, so do the Saltwater Crocodiles or “salties” (be crocwise)!
To celebrate Molly’s birthday, we cruised Corroboree Billabong, which is part of the Mary River Wetlands and adjacent to World Heritage Kakadu National Park. The Park is huge and exactly the same size as Ireland. Aboriginal rock paintings here have been dated to 20,000 or more years old. Kakadu also boasts the largest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the world - and the birdlife here is fantastic! Ibis, Brolga, Jacana, Egrets, Herons, Kites, Sea Eagles, Whistling ducks and Magpie Geese can be seen gathering among the
flowering lotus lily. There are also large flocks of Jabiru.
Kathy is busy at work seeing patients and supervising/teaching the younger doctors in training at a large public hospital. Patients arrive from the far corners of the remote Northern Territory, which stretches for miles and is 2 ½ times the size of Texas - with a population slightly less than the city of Buffalo (226,000 people). Imagine traveling that distance for medical care! Darwin has an interesting World War II history, having been bombed by the same Japanese fleet several weeks after Pearl Harbor. It is also the most modern city in Australia, as 80% of it was destroyed by Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Day in 1974 and has been newly rebuilt since then (more about the city in another letter home).
All in all, we are happy and once again so grateful for this opportunity to work, travel and experience! For now, we have PBS and a few NFL games to remind us of home (go Bills!). Molly is also very happy with a new pet chameleon that wandered into the condo. Staying dry for now...cheers!
Kathy and Molly
Dr. Kathy Starkey, an OB/GYN, and her partner, Molly Evans, have chosen locum tenens as a permanent lifestyle. Their adventures have taken them to New Zealand's North and South Islands, the Caymans, Western Australia, the small Australian state of Tasmania and now the Top End of Australia. We love to tell their tales here (read more stories from Kathy and Molly). Watch for future installments here, and if you haven’t subscribed to this blog yet - do it now!