Margot Baxter

Remote Area Nurse

I have worked for NAHRLS off and on this year, primarily in the Northern Territory starting at Maningrida in central Arnhem Land, then to Oenpelli for 6 weeks and then  to Groote Eylandt. I was previously at Groote Eylandt 2 years ago. I was then placed back at Oenpelli, West Arnhem Land which is only 16kms over the river from Kakadu NP. What a very beautiful area!

I really enjoyed my time in the Northern Territory. When I arrived in March it was still the wet season so I had to fly everywhere, which is just magnificent. The wetlands and escarpments are just stunning, with waterfalls etc. I was doing a lot of out station clinics – some I drove to and camped when it is dry enough and other times we would fly. It was just unreal to see the changes over the different seasons. Sometimes we had time to fish, look around and have the indigenous tell us about the different plants etc. The escarpment areas are full of aboriginal art and beautiful scenery.

We crossed the East Alligator River at low tide. There are many big crocodiles at the crossing, which at certain tides the mullet jump back up stream into the deeper water and the crocs gather to catch them. It is quite spectacular. Having my car opened up many opportunities to discover the area on my days off and I was usually joined by other staff.  We caught our fair share of big barra this season. Sometimes we could see many fish and throw the lure, catch one, then another and another – we had to stop fishing because we didn’t need them!

Oenpelli is in the middle of huge wetlands and it is totally surrounded by water in the wet. We can only drive 8kms along the road one way and 4kms the other way, which was where everyone placed their boats to fish. The waters are warm and the fish are abundant. There is a big billabong at the community (in the wet it is just an extension of the wetlands), which is just beautiful and the bird life is enormous. Many crocs live there too and enjoy the odd bird for breakfast. The house that I was in overlooked part of the billabong so most mornings I was out with the binoculars to see what was going on with the native life. Most mornings I could spot 4 to 5 crocs, hundreds of birds and, not to mention, the beautiful sunrises. 

I was very blessed with many opportunities to work and experience this unique place.

 We had our first big storm for this wet season. The smell of that first rain is so refreshing.

Thanks to the staff at NAHRLS for making these experiences wonderful memories.