The Little Bird

Lessons for a Little Bird

Can you see the little bird?

The little bird hides.

I heard the noisy birds – no wonder they call them Noisy Miners.  The parents flew to it and then flew away – each time bringing some tiny morsel for the baby to ear.  The little bird looked quite relaxed and wandered a short distance along the branch, and then back again.  The parents kept a close eye on it, as they sourced food items in the garden.  Can you see the bird in the photo above?

When I came close to the baby bird with my camera, it appeared unconcerned.

Noisy miner.

Stepping out (just a bit).

It carefully stepped along the branch of the plant – almost unconcerned about me and my camera.  I was hoping I was not scaring the little bird – but it seemed to ignore me.

The little bird takes baby steps

Bravely stepping out.

The Little Bird Flies and Hides

Sadly I couldn’t get any pics of its next action.  It flew into some branches and I couldn’t see it, and then minutes later it bravely flew again, ending up on the lawn mids the rubbish of the gum leaves and bark that covers the lawn.  Then it flew again, this time up into a tree, hiding in the plants.

Here I am.....

It’s OK – here I am.

The adult birds closed in and appeared to be giving it words of encouragement and it flew again, getting some height, and soon disappeared into other trees in the garden.

I am glad I managed to see the little bird explore the garden under the watchful eyes of the parent birds.  So pleased that I could get some photos without scaring it.

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Overcoming Loneliness

Overcoming Loneliness for Women

I added the last two words to make this topic for women – as I think I have more clues for overcoming loneliness for women, because I am one.  I would say that many women see finding a partner – usually a man, though it is not unusual for senior women to bond and have a relationship with a woman.

Either way, it is whatever suits you.  Personally, I am not interested in another “relationship” with anyone.  I do enjoy some aspects of my lone existence.  I have considered the responsibilities and time sharing one would have with a “partner” and do not want to follow that path.

Causes of Loneliness

Many women find themselves “single” in their latter years – there are some who have never married, but most have been “left behind” – either their spouse has died, or moved on to another relationship.  I know of one lady whose husband is ill in a nursing home and has been for years.  He doesn’t even recognise her now and despite caring for him in many ways, has had to make a new life for herself.

Sometimes the issue is that the partner is still around but is so involved in a life of his own, leaving you to lead your life mostly alone.

I have told my story in this post – but I also wonder if the fact that I am tall has had an influence.  I recall some years ago with a fellow tall lady, recounting our experiences, as it is sometimes difficult for both women if one is very short and the other tall.  We had both felt this was so.

Once upon a time, there were bigger families, and in small populations, it was easy to maintain a friendship with a relative or school friend.  People tended to live in villages – now with large populations in cities and suburbs. It is not so easy to maintain strong friendships.

Loneliness exits when you have friends

Photo by Sam Manns Unsplash.com

Make Some Changes to Overcome Loneliness

Don’t allow yourself to become miserable.  Take some steps to make change in your life.  You are going to have to test and measure.  Experiment.  See what works for you.  Don’t be shy.

  • Volunteer or join an organisation, particularly one that has social events.
  • There are many groups worth investigating including sports, writing, book clubs, community service, travel, and so on.  Go to your local community centre – you are bound to find flyers and information about local groups.
  • Arrange to meet someone for coffee or lunch. (If affordability is an issue for you, work out how you can do it within your budget.)
  • Check out Meetups.  (www.meetups.com)
  • Observe – you may find there is someone on her own living near you, who would love to meet and chat with someone.
  • If your situation is really upsetting you, speak with your doctor or someone like Lifeline. (In Australia it is www.Lifeline.org.au – Phone 13 11 14)

You can Google the topic e.g. How to Overcome Loneliness and you might find some good ideas in articles like this one.

The reality is that if you feel lonely – YOU need to make some changes in your life.  What can you do?  Sitting home alone, eating alone and not communicating with others is not good for your health.

Make a list of things you like to do, and see how/when and who you can do these things with.  And it is ok to go out on your own sometimes.

As someone who loves photography, much more than most of my friends, I find I like to travel or go on short walks just to collect images.  Just for me. Although I do put my photos on cards and give them away too.

Overcoming Loneliness 1

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Organisations I belong to include

Bayside Women in Business

Older Women’s Network Qld

Society of Women Writers Qld

HOW – Housing for Older Women

Have you any ideas for the readers?

 

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What are the Consequences of Loneliness?

What are the Consequences of Loneliness?

On reflection, I have had many periods of loneliness in my life.  I came from a small family – my parents, a sister (four years younger than me), and me.  As I started school she was just a toddler, and though I loved and played with her, those 4 years made a big difference.

Most of my interaction with her was after school, weekends and holidays.  We had good neighbours, where the two girls were of similar age to us.  But we had a problem then.  They were Catholic and we were not.  I recall that at their school, they were educated about the people who did not belong to their faith.  I recall some of the words of a ditty they sang to us.

Lone woman sitting on floor near window

Photo by Anthony Tran of Unsplash.com

School Days

I didn’t have a really close friend in primary school, for I was very involved in the Brownie and then Girl Guide program and there were no very good friends then.  They were all my friends, and no one was a special friend.

It’s me I know, and I don’t understand why, but in high school I didn’t have a close friend.  In some ways, it was because of the school I attended – where I had to ride my bike (always alone) for quite some distance.  I left my first high school after three years, and went to a school in the city – again well away from the local girls.

Working Life

My early working life was somewhat lonely – in one place I was the junior, treated rather badly by the older ladies in charge, and then later, I worked alone.  When I went nursing I did have close girlfriends – living in a nurses home with so many other single young ladies was great and we did have a great social life and there was always someone to talk with.

Married Life

After I married I moved interstate and it did take me a while to make new friendships.  My husband was a sales representative and travelled most weeks, leaving me along to manage life on my own, well not exactly on my own.  Two babies and a dog took up most of my time, and at one stage I also worked at a local hospital.

We moved again to Melbourne, and again I had to find new friends, not easy while the children grew up, and as was often the case, my husband would be transferred and we would be on the move again.

I manage well on my own.  I have had to.  We have moved house more than a dozen times.  I’ve lost count.  Each time, for me it was hard.  The children went to school and I often had a short-term friendship with other mothers, but I also worked too, and a few of the positions I had I made friends but they were not lasting.  Some of my friends moved away too.

As a registered nurse, I was often on night duty – which was never a great circumstance to make friends.  I had other positions too, and though I made acquaintances often I’ve never really had a good buddy.  Well, except for one friend – who oddly lives on the west coast of Australia and I live on the east coast.  We communicate often and do spend time together too, as often as we can.

Marriage Breakup

After nearly 44 years of marriage I left.  A long story which I don’t intend to tell here.  For the next few years I went back to study and lived alone house sitting – again mostly in areas that I was not familiar with, and had no close friends.

It has been 10 years that I have been on my own, and though I have friends, I have issues with loneliness.  I have many friends, but most days I am on my own, nights I am on my own and often weekends.  I do belong to a few organisations and I have a list of friends (many on Facebook), but I still feel lonely.

Consequences

What are the Consequences of Loneliness?   One of the major ones for some people is health and mental health issues.  Some people feel the issues so overwhelming that they see the only way out as suicide.

Just health issues – if you are feeling unwell you often need someone to assist – physically and mentally. And what if you are too sick/injured to call for help.  Even in these days of much technology, some people are dying alone – often after being unconscious for a long period.  (One lady who lived in the same housing block as me, was dead for 6 weeks before anyone noticed!)

Memory issues – I think this is an important issue that is not mentioned very much – but just having regular conversations with friends or family keeps your mind and memory active.  So many times I am reminded of an event or a person, just from chatting with someone.

Learning – just chatting with someone may “teach” you things e.g. new local shop, event, computer/phone skill and much more.

There is plenty of research being undertaken at the moment.  But there are many things that people can do to reduce their loneliness, which I will address in a future post.

Are you lonely?  Sometimes?  Always?

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Bungeworgorai Creek

Free Camping at Bungeworgorai

My first experience of free camping was at Bungeworgorai Creek. When I set off in August 2017 to attend the Rolling Solo event at Ross River, I was so new at camping, and so “green” at driving my Toyota Coaster.  I had only taken it on short journeys and each one was a drama.   When I left Brisbane in haste to make it to Dalby, I was shaking like a leaf!  Maybe that caused the visor to rip off the front of the van going up the range to Toowoomba.

I made it safely to Dalby and spent my first night in a caravan park – still shaking I think from the drama of the first day of my trip.  It is true that I considered giving up and returning to Brisbane.  But I took a deep breath and decided to proceed.

My next stop was at Bungeworgorai Creek – a free camping spot beside the Warrego Highway after Roma.  I had no experience of free camping and cautiously drove into the area.  There were 3 or 4 vans there.  One was a Toyota Coaster pulling a trailer with a small car on board.  The man had two cats he was travelling with and they roamed free.  One of them caught a mouse in the grass and was playing with it near his van.  The man was friendly and came over and looked at my Toyota, and we had a short chat.

Bunge what?

Free Camping by the Warrego Highway

I had parked near a caravan which was towed by a small truck.  The couple were friendly, and invited me for “Happy Hour”.  They were typical grey nomads enjoying travelling around Australia.

On and On I Drove

My next free camping night was at Tambo.  I’d read that there was a free camp there, but it was not where I had been told.  I had coffee at a cafe and a lady told me about the “new” area of free camping, just a couple of kilometers away on the banks of the Barcoo River.

After spending time at the Tambo Art Gallery and the Tambo Teddies shop, I was ready to take a break, so decided to go to the camping area.  I found it rather quickly.  It was much more heavily treed than I had expected, and there was not a lot of water in the Barcoo.  I had trouble finding a spot, but eventually stopped close to a couple.  They were from NSW and were horsey people, though had left their horses behind with family.  They were a lovely couple and we spent a lot of time exchanging stories.  They had a lot more than me.

Free Camping Under the Bridge at Camooweal

When I reached Camooweal, I recognised two other Roller members and we got chatting in the late afternoon.  They were keen to free camp by the Georgina River and I followed them down and found a spot in the dry dusty area beside the river.    I was surprised to wake in the morning and find them gone. They must have left before 6 am.

It was my last free camping for a while, as for the next week or so I was in paid camping spots.

Camooweal is on the border of Queensland and Northern Territory – so I was soon off on my way to the Barkly Homestead.  It is a camping ground and road house and I had stayed in a cabin there on a previous trip.  All was well, and the following morning I left for my next stop at Devils Marbles or Karlu Karlu.  It was here that I met up with more Rollers.  As well, I met an amazing lady who was taking her disabled husband on a drive.  She had to bathe him, feed him and their two dogs, dress him and drive a large vehicle towing a very big van. I was so impressed with her, especially as I heard him speaking to her in a rather unpleasant manner.

 

 

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Rolling Solo Memories

Memories of Rolling Solo

I have so many  Rolling Solo memories. Yesterday a new Facebook group was started – for those of us that in 2017 drove from our home states around Australia to the Ross River Resort just out of Alice Springs.  I had purchased an old (1983) Toyota Coaster earlier in the year, with a plan to live in the bus and do some travelling. The previous owner called the Coaster Murtle, so I stick with that name.  Then I discovered Rolling Solo.  They were planning their first event – get-together at Ross River in August that year.

I joined the group and booked for the trip of a lifetime.  I moved out of my unit at Beachmere – had enough of awful neighbours and lived in the bus for a few weeks before I set off.  I had planned a couple of test runs with the Coaster, but the only one I did was an attempt to go to a camping ground north of Brisbane, but the Coaster didn’t want to do it, and broke down just before Wamuran.  That was an adventure on its own.

Brisbane to Mt Isa

The plan was originally to travel in convoy with other members of Rolling Solo, but it didn’t suit me initially, and then I was asked to go to Sydney for an SBS program.  We worked out that I had to hurry to Mt Isa and fly to Sydney for recording, and then get back to Mt Isa.

I drove to Mt Isa without any drama, and stayed in a Caravan Park for the first time at Dalby, and then did some free camping.  I didn’t know about free camping, but learned that it was ok.  There was one, the name of which I can’t recall, my first one, somewhere north of Roma I think.  Another was at the Barcoo River at Tambo, and then at Camooweal.  It was at Camooweal that I met two Rollers and we spent the night almost under a bridge there.

The trip to and from Sydney was great – and we recorded the program for Insight about women in housing stress or homeless, and I returned to Mt Isa without any dramas.

On and on I went, stopping at the Barkly Homestead, and then Karlu Karlu (Devils Marbles) meeting up with other Rollers there.  Then it was onto a caravan park for a few days (where I met more Rollers) before we headed off to Ross River.

The whole trip is one great part of my travel memories.

My Toyota Coast in the outback

Murtle on the Road

Events at Ross River

There were many events at Ross River for us – from bus trips doing the tourist thing around the area, workshops, parties, ukelele classes, and more.  Or just sitting around chatting, drinking coffee or wine, and making friends.  It was wonderful.

One of the things we did was get into the Guinness Book of records for the longest line of camp chairs.  Read about it here.

Rolling Solo Memories 2

Then and Now

When the new FB page was started for those Rollers who attended the event, quite a few of us reconnected.  It’s called Ross River Girls 2017.  Though only a small number of us have found the site as yet, it was fun to reconnect with them. So many of us have wonderful Rolling Solo memories from Ross River and NT. There is a suggestion that we meetup one day.  How awesome would that be?

While I still have itchy feet and would have this year (2020) attempted some trips away, I am like others, handicapped by the Covid-19 restrictions.  I no long have my bus, and I sometimes dream of somehow buying a luxury camper van and setting off on travels around Australia again.

My only plan at the moment is to drive down to Adelaide – I have the route all set out and detailed in my computer.  I would go down to Broken Hill, then south but instead of going straight to Adelaide, would detour to Port Augusta and head north into Wilpena Pound.

Sounds good, but currently border closures prohibit me carrying out my plans.

I can continue to dream!  What is your travel dream?

 

 

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Seniors Care and Respect

Seniors Care and Respect

I would like to see an improvement in the care and respect for older people. There’s been so much in the media as a result of the Royal Commission into Aged Care, as well as the horrific death rate and stories from residential aged care facilities during the Covid-19. 

It is clear to me that we have a problem with the lack of respect for older people.

My opinion is that there is a major problem in Australia with the poor treatment of many of our seniors.  We talk often of the elderly being ignored in shops, as if the younger sales staff have a fear of the elderly and don’t know how to communicate with them.  While some younger people may have had a reason to be a little cautious of older folk (we know that some can be rude or behave badly at times), I’d suggest that those episodes are few and far between.

How often have older folk been waiting to be attended by a staff member, so may appear to not notice the older potential customer?

Different Times

Some years ago, I ran little workshops in an Aged Care facility.  I had examples and photographs of items from the 1940’s and 1950’s which we talked about.  There were activities as well and we had a lot of fun with the elderly residents.  There were some nurses in the room too, and my conversations with them afterwards were most interesting.  We spoke about the differences between the times the nurses, years younger, experienced and the lives lead by the elderly residents.

We talked about the challenges that the older residents had to deal with for they were more comfortable with the things that they had grown up with, rather than the things that were more common in the lives of the younger nurses.

Nursing Training

My nursing training way back years ago, was all about the practicalities of working in a hospital, but never did we do any study on what our patients had lived through.  So many of them had lived during wartime – World Wars I and II, and no doubt many were affected  by their experiences, but we, as nurses, were never trained to understand how their lives may have been affected by what happened.  There was so much trauma, deaths of family members, especially those fathers, uncles, brothers and cousins who went to war and never returned. Or if they returned, they were forever damaged by the experience.

Would Things Be Better if we Learned More about History?

What if we knew more about the way older people lived?  Would we be able to better understand them?  Would we be able to converse with them at times about the things we  know of their lives years before?

I think that when we learn history at school, it was mostly about the big events – dates, timelines, famous people and more, without considering too much about LIFE in the past.

Sometimes I think about my school days,  when we used pen and ink, had no school excursions (except to the Coca Cola Factory), no audio-visual technology, and teachers were aloud to use “corporal punishment.”

green car

Vintage car – by Philip Schroeder from Unsplash.com

My feeling is that younger people will be able to respect elderly people if they understand the challenges growing up without all the mod-cons that folk have now.

Perhaps it means more visits to historical villages with grandparents, or parents, or even doing tours in such venues when you stop look and learn about some of the items on display.

I know that when I was doing the presentations at the nursing homes, that there were topics that the younger nursing staff could talk with the older residents about.  It opened a new understanding for them.

Would this help improve respect for older folk?

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Are Men Really from Mars??

Men are from Mars and Women from Venus

I do think that some men are from Mars.  Men and Women are so different.  Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus,  was the title of a book written by John Gray way back in 1992, which caused a lot of media chatter then.  The reality is, and we don’t need a book to tell us, men and women are different!

I am not going to go into detail, dear reader, for it is not necessary for this post, but I do want to make some comparisons regarding the men and women who live in a public housing property, in which I too abide.

grayscale photo of man swearing leather jacket sitting on floor near building

Photo by Seth Doyle of Unsplash.com

About the Residents of the House/Unit

After ten years of housing drama, after a failed marriage, I am now housed in “public housing”.  I pay rent, just like all the others living in this property, which is in two sections.  I am in the oldest part, built around the late 1980’s, and not much upgrading since.

Of the eighteen units here, eleven are housed by senior women and seven by men.   All units are of the same size.  Many of the residents are recluse individuals.  In almost 6 months since I have been here, there is one woman that I have never seen, one that I have only seen three times, and 6 of the men are in constant “lockdown”.

The man living right beside me – his door is about 4 meters from mine, I have seen quite a few times, and spoken to him on rare occasions, but I have no idea what his name is.  He’s not someone I would like to make friends with, as he is foul-mouthed and violent at times. At least one of the men has a criminal record (apparently for rape), and it is suspected that two others do have dark and nasty past history.

Of the women, I think four or five of them were trained/registered nurses, and another has academic qualifications, and 8 of them are friendly, though pretty much all keep to themselves.  There is almost no socialising within the whole group.  The majority just spend day and night in their units.

I do have concerns about the men with dark pasts being housed so close to vulnerable women!  I know some of us are a little scared.

Welcome to your New Home

It is not the first time I have lived in a rental property – on and off for many years, but I have never moved into one that was so “space”.  There are “challenging” cupboards in the kitchen (and I note that another similar public housing has had their cupboards “improved”. There’s barely enough space to put basic kitchen items, and there’s limited bench space.

In the bedroom and lounge room there is no furniture supplied.  No blinds, no curtains, no heater/air conditioner.  The bathroom/toilet/laundry is one small space, but no decent storage places.  In all, it is pretty basic.

The women are the ones that find it all challenging.  They have to install curtains/blinds/wardrobes/drawers – in fact, everything. But not the Men from Mars.

Men’s Space

We all have the same space, but guess which group finds there is enough for them?  Yep, it’s the blokes.  I was speaking to one guy the other day who lives in shorts and t-shirts, and doesn’t need a wardrobe.  I am not sure if he has a washing machine, but his washing load is small.  Oh, and he doesn’t need sheets etc on his bed.  He lies on the bed with a rug over him.

His eating habits are basic too – no need for all the food and paraphernalia we ladies use in our kitchens, as long as they have a carton for their grog and a few bits and pieces they have enough.  I’ve no doubt that they eat out more than we ladies do, for despite being on the pension, men tend to have less expenses than women, so it all works for them.

Many of the men have not spent any money on curtains or blinds, an old sheet from the op shop is ok for them.

The Frugal Men 

And so it goes.  My nameless next-door neighbour breaks a few rules and has friends (or family?) stay overnight.  I think there are two single beds – and no sheets or similar.  I suspect they bed down on the beds and throw a blanket over them.  There’s no table and chairs – they sit on the beds to watch television and eat, though often they go out for meals.

Some other men spend the day watching television or playing games on a computer.  Some of the women do tend to watch way too much television than I could cope with.

My Wish

That this property will soon receive the long overdue upgrading and we women will get more storage space!!

What do you think, dear reader?

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The Hunt for my “Missing” Cousin.

My Missing Cousin Story

I was born in South Australia and lived in that state for the first 22 years of my life. Eventually, I moved to Queensland, so am somewhat “isolated” from family members, and my regular trip to Adelaide has been postponed because of the restrictions of Covid 19.

Normally when I drive down to Adelaide, I stop along the highway south of Broken Hill and catch up with a cousin, a bachelor just a little older than me.  He’s not big at communicating, despite having land and mobile phone, and internet with email.  He doesn’t like the calls from folk he does not know, and all the extra emails that come through so tends to not answer his phone and not use email.  I was concerned that was missing, ill or even dead.

Historical Places in South Australia

History in Mining Town

Mines and their families created living quarters in the creek – but sadly after heavy rains the area flooded,  and they moved to safer areas.  These dugouts have certainly stood the ‘test of time’.

When I tried to contact him via email earlier this year, there was no response.  I phoned and phoned and there was no answer.  The phone rang out. Again and again. I phoned my sister in Adelaide and she tried too, with the same results that I experienced.

Contact Attempts

So several weeks ago I wrote a letter–asking him to call me, but again no response.  Was he missing?   I mentioned my frustration to a friend, who suggested I call the police to see if they could do a check for me.  After a few days, I did just that.

My cousin lives in a very small town, which apparently has only one police officer in the local station.  I tried to phone that station but learned that the only officer was away when I phoned and my call was diverted to a larger station not far away.  I told my concerns to a lovely lady officer who was very helpful.  That was around 3 pm.

The officer phoned me back soon after–she’d made a few calls. My cousin had not been admitted to the local hospital, and she was awaiting information from another officer.

Not long after, a police officer from another local station phoned me.  They had found my cousin alive and well, and he would phone me later that evening.  He did so.

Police Visit

When my cousin phoned me that evening, he told the story. We had a few laughs as the story unfolded. My cousin had decided to have fish and chips for his evening meal, and he walked to a local roadhouse/café to get his meal.  As he walked back to his home, he “felt” a car following him.  He didn’t look, but walked faster to the safety of his home.  A police car pulled into his drive-way and the officer got out of the car and asked him who he was.  My cousin was quite freaked out by the experience, though soon learned that his Queensland relative (me) was behind the ”police search”.

My cousin had received my letter the day before–but had not phoned me as requested.

I have thanked the officer, the lovely lady with whom I initially communicated, and I will be sending a thank you letter or card.  My cousin phoned my sister and laughingly told the story of his brush with the law.  Now we have all had a laugh about it all.

It may be some time before I can make my journey south to the city of my birth, but I will stop and either stay the night or have a meal with my country cousin when the borders are eventually opened.

Covid-19 has certainly changed the way we live and travel and I will certainly be glad when so many of our restrictions are lifted.  I can’t wait to take a long drive and visit family members I’ve not seen for a long time.

 

 

 

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The End of Hutt River Province

Hutt River Province History

There is a news article today that the Hutt River Province will cease to exist.  The story of Hutt River is quite an amazing story – which goes back to 1970.  The first sentence from the Wikipedia story about the province says “The Principality of Hutt River, often referred to by its former name, the Hutt River Province, was an unrecognised micronation in Australia. The principality claimed to be an independent sovereign state founded on 21 April 1970.”

Readers can go to the Wikipedia site to learn the full story.The province is some 600 km north of Perth, Western Australia, and the whole story fascinated me.  I was thrilled to be able to visit it in 2013, on my journey around Australia.

Hutt River on April Fool’s Day

That was the day I visited the province and met Prince Leonard, (Leonard Casley) who set up the province.  On the day I visited, I was heading north, essentially on my way home to Brisbane.  There was so much to see, and while I had not planned to go there, I saw a sign pointing to the province and decided to go there.

The road into the province was unsealed as I recall, dusty, and only slightly rough and it was not really easy to find.  But I kept going and found myself at the entrance to the province.

Meeting the Prince of Hutt River Province

The End of Hutt River Province 3

I can’t recall all the buildings in the province, but there were several.  There was a museum, a church, and the post office.  Prince Leonard was behind the counter in the post office and when I entered he was talking with some other visitors.

I did buy some postage stamps and like many of the other visitors, I presented my passport and had it stamped with the stamps of the province.  I recall that there was a caravan park (possibly unofficial) and there were other visitors there.

Prince Leonard was certainly a well-educated man, and I had an interesting conversation with him and was so pleased that I had journeyed to the Province and had met him.

Princess Shirley

I did not see Prince Leonard’s wife, Princess Shirley – as I understand she was not well at the time, and she died in July of 2013m and the Prince died in February 2019, at the age of 93 years of age.

Provinces in Australia

It is not my intention to write more of the history of the Province, but despite it being not officially recognised in Australia, it was recognised by some countries overseas and a read of Wikipedia and the many websites that tell the stories gives much more detail.

Hutt River was not the only province in Australia – there are in fact some 12 more, but they don’t get a lot of publicity.  You will find a list of them here and links to their websites.  Maybe one day you, dear reader, may wish to start your own micro-nation in Australia.  Sounds like a bit of fun.

So Much History

There is so much history around that area of Western Australia – and I’d love to go back and check them out again, but it is unlikely that I will ever get the chance especially with the Covid challenges.  One place that I did visit closer to Perth than the Hutt River Province was at Northhampton.  A history tourist spot called Oakabella, regarded at the time as the most ghostly property in Australia.  I visited the house, met the owners, and wandered around the property but didn’t see any ghosts. However, I would not have liked to steady in the old homestead on my own at night!!

Where would you start your own micro-nation?

 

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Aged Care in Australia

Aged Care in Australia

There’s no doubt that there are problems with the care of our elderly in Australia.  With the Royal Commission, we are learning a lot about how our seniors are being cared for in their declining years.

As a former registered nurse I have worked in aged care – and my experience goes way back to the 1960s.  Aged care was just starting to be developed in Australia.  When I was doing my (hospital based) training in the 60s elderly people had very limited places for care.  I have read where places were being developed around the 1960’s.  I could not find quality details about the history of aged care in Australia.

My Aged Care Experience

While doing my training in a country hospital in the 1960’s, we had several people in the Medical Ward, who were actually “nursing home” candidates, but there was not the opportunity to be anywhere else at the time.  I recall working in the Female Medical Ward where there were probably 6 elderly ladies.  It housed them in a four-bed ward and a two-bed ward.  We showered or bathed them every day, provided meals, but offered little or no entertainment or special activities.  They spent most of their days in bed or sitting in a chair beside their beds.

Most of us were teenagers, who had little idea on how to care for elderly people.  I recall nothing in our training that was specifically about the care of the elderly.  The hospital was an “acute care” institution, and that was what our training focussed on.

About five years after I completed my training, I worked in a private aged care facility in Melbourne for a short period.  There were some 20 plus elderly people all housed in one room.  I can’t recall a lot of the detail, but I know I was the only nurse on duty all night.  It kept me very busy, and I recall feeling so upset about the apparent lack of care of these people.

Later Aged Care Experience

My nursing career was interesting.  I worked in hospitals and homes when employed by an agency, but it wasn’t until 2001 that I returned to aged care.  By then I had a teaching degree and was asked by a community training group to run an aged care course.  They wanted me to have “recent experience”, so I worked part-time in a facility near where I live.  I was unimpressed by so much at that place, and not long after I left, it was demolished.  However, I did go on to be an aged care trainer.  I was given all the material for the course, but had issues with some of it.    However, most of my students went on to be great aged care nurses.

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Unsplash.com

Aged Care

Problems I Identified

When I started at the facility, they promised me a mentor (that didn’t happen as the lady who volunteered had a miscarriage on my first day, and I never saw her again). I was promised clinical training but it never happened.  In fact, I did no training in the six months I was employed at the facility.  I recall at about 3 months I requested feedback on my work and was given a glowing report.  The following week, the head of our section called me to her office to tell me that there was a complaint about my work.  She would not tell me what I had done wrong, nor who reported it.  There were other issues with the staff and a few weeks later, there was a session with a facilitator to identify and work through the issues.  While staff attended, no one spoke about the problems, and when I asked about the complaint about me – no one spoke up.  Weird.

I learned that some staff were taking “suspicious” medication, were often on sick leave, and were not reliable with their attendance or duties.  I left after six months.

The Age Difference

In the late 1990’s I volunteered at a private nursing home, doing a presentation about life in the early 40s and 50s,  I had many images of items which I showed on a screen, and the elderly folk and I chatted about these items.  I also created a “game” where they had to talk about various items from the presentation.  It was great fun and the “oldies” loved it.  Some nurses were also in the room and it amazed them as we talked about things they did not know of.  It was a tremendous success and showed me that the aged difference between staff and residents was a big issue.

The other problem I saw was the disrespect for elderly people.  Some staff were often rude to their residents – but it was more about cultural differences.  Now in Australia, many of the staff are from countries other than Australia and there are several cultural differences that occur.

Elderly people are not always comfortable with people different from what they are familiar with.

Staffing and funding are two big issues that need to be resolved.

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