It is wonderful to be back living and working at the Top End of Australia–our tropical paradise. Despite the daily humidity and temperatures reaching the high 90s, we feel “at home” slipping easily back into our routine of work and play (the customs officers were skeptical about Kathy's work visa when they explored her bag and found snorkeling equipment, a bike helmet, multiple swimsuits and several pairs of walking shoes!)
We are enjoying the same condo, the same lovely oceanfront swimming pool, and wonderful young doctors eager to learn and care for their patients. The mix of Asian/Australian influence is what makes this place unique from our prior Australian experiences. Here, Kathy cares for patients from East Timor, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines Islands, Sri Lanka, China, India and refugees from as far as Iran–to name a few. In fact, one in eight Australians now speak an Asian language. This exposure to other cultures has piqued our interest to travel to these regions in the future.
Weather and natural phenomena continues to be a “hot topic”. Nightly spectacular lightning shows that are leading us to the eventual wet season dominate.
Our native Australian Aborigines will now enter the 21st century with their own television station. Going mainstream introduces their culture to a wider audience and breaks down multiple barriers. We eagerly await this chance to learn more about the first people of Australia and hope that sometime in the future the Constitution of Australia is ratified to recognize them.
The Northern Territory outlawed the use of plastic shopping bags last year and one year later, it is nice to see everyone parading into the stores with reusable bags in tow. It shows that it can and should be done. Molly even takes an “esky” (cooler) when she shops for things that need refrigeration.
Our time back in the USA brought a visit from Australian friends who spent part of their 77-day U.S. holiday with us. We caught up with them in the Grand Canyon after we spent five days rafting down the Colorado River, sleeping under the stars and hiking the nine miles out. The grand finale of their holiday was five days with Kathy’s brother in New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy....with no electricity.
In the spirit of the holiday season, two turtle doves have built a nest in a palm tree just outside our window. What makes it unique is that this same couple attempted a nest here last year but it was blown apart by a typhoon. Hopefully, they will have better luck this year. To ring in the New Year we’re sailing Sydney Harbour aboard the
James Craig–a tall ship built in 1874. The Sydney fireworks spectacular is world-renowned so watch for us on your television news!
Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!
Kathy and Molly
Dr. Kathy Starkey (far right) is an OB/GYN from Buffalo, New York who gave up a practice in the Finger Lakes region in 2007 to take her first locum assignment with us in New Zealand. She’s now on her 8th assignment–at the Top End of Australia in the Northern Territory (for the 2nd time) where they just arrived. Dr. Starkey says she’s sticking with locum work because she get to practice medicine–which she loves–versus working so hard at the “business” of medicine. Her partner in life and crime, Molly Evans (second from right) has been with her from the beginning and the pair’s locum adventures–which we tell often–have also taken them to New Zealand's North and South Islands, the Cayman Islands, Western Australia, and the Australian island state of Tasmania.