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  • Writer's pictureClaire

31/01/24 Oberon to Orange Via Dubbo.

Two great things about Oberon, one the fuel is cheap and two we're leaving it. It's Still giving me funny vibes this morning. You can tell it's coming time to hand the van back, the beds, such as they are, are getting harder each night I think!! Oberon was like a ghost town this morning hardly anyone about and not much open. Today our destination was Dubbo, and we were visiting the Royal Flying Doctor service visitor centre.

We hadn't booked any accommodation for tonight because our route up to Dubbo was the same one we're taking to return to wherever we deem suitable. Our thinking was we can check out the places that had sites as we went through them, and, if the towns looked ok we'd give the campsites a ring and book us in. So first on the list was Bathurst, not too bad, biggish sort of place selection of two sites to stay on. Next up was Orange, yep definitely a possibility and again two sites to pick from. After Orange we had Molong. Molong was quickly struck off the list, and we'll say nothing more about it. Other than that there was an awesome curiosity shop with some really quirky outdoor ornaments. All too big to fit in the sturdy one. So a photo had to suffice.

The final possibility was Wellington, that too stays on the list. Not only is it a nice place but to discourage drivers from driving tired they provide free tea and coffee in the tourist information place and a few nibbles if you wanted them. What we drove today was a short trip by their standards. In fact some very special friends of mine have been known to drive to Cornwall for a Cornish tea and back again the same day. So a few hours driving to see something is nothing. However, the lovely lady in the information centre was happy to give us a freebie, a leg stretch and a cool down in the air conditioning and some respite from the brutal 37 degree in the shade temperatures on the road. I'm glad we went in because I've picked up loads of info for the next leg of our trip and also the best set of directions for anywhere we've been so far. They were turn left here (pointing to outside the office) and don't turn off untill you hit the Royal Flying Doctor Centre. Just stay on this road and you'll be right, and she was right.

Dubbo is a big place and there are a huge number of people living there. Aside from the number of properties, hotels aplenty lined the roadsides. Taronga zoo, is a huge crowd puller because they have three breeds of rhino there. black, Whitec and lesser horned. They also have the most successful rhino breeding programme in the world. We didn't visit but Dubbo is obviously very proud of its rhino because everywhere you look there are rhino statues, all different colours, patterns and in different mediums. Very cute. There is an old gaol that was open for visitors but we only went to the flying Doctor visitor centre . Its a fully functioning facility and on a screen in the display area you can see every Flying Dr Aircraft that's in the air, where they're headed and what their ETA is. Pretty impressive. The visitor centre has a lovely cafe, and as we'd skipped breakfast by the time we arrived we were a bit peckish, it was only polite to eat there really, and it was very nice. It also had air conditioning which was a godsend because the temperature was creeping up over 40 by the time we got there.

Also in the cafe is a replica of the very first plane that flew out and collected a patient. It was tiny so how on earth they got pilot, medic and patient on a stretcher in there I have no idea.

A very colourful rally car resides in the cafe area, there is an outback rally that occurs every year and has raised well over $30 million dollars for the RFDS the car was awesome and had wooden giraffes on the back wings.

Following a delicious lunch we went to the counter to begin looking around the RFDA part of the centre. We were met by a very knowledgeable lady who took us around and filled us in on bits of information about the service. It is a not for profit organisation so depends on volunteers giving up their time to fund raise, and local benefactors to help maintain the running of the operation. It requires $1.5 million a week to keep the service going they get a small grant from the federal government, another from the state government and the rest they have to find themselves. If you have need of the service it will cost you nothing at all because it's a not for profit. An elderly brother and sister lived in the bush and when they passed away in their 90's they donated a seven figure sum to the RFDS which was used to build the visitor centre as it is today. It's the only centre you can visit in Australia, which makes it pretty special. Obviously you don't get to see the crew working, but you do get to see a retired plane, a cut in half fuselage showing what equipment is packed into the planes and really informative videos about the service. You can also sit in the pilots seat with a hat on and have a photo taken, we put Bob in, once it was done you just emailed it to yourself, I sent it to Mike so Ella could see it. Every year they fly in the region of 26 million km which is a bloody long way, as such the planes are replaced every 10 years. They are then either sold off or have the equipment that is fitted inside removed and seats put back in and utilised by the service for running clinics in remote communities. The planes are bought from America but because of their small size they have to be flown back in short hops, via Qubec, Russia Japan and into Cairns where they get their Australian registration. They are then flown from there to Sydney where they get kitted out with a full ICU and all the other equipment they need.

The Dubbo service covers all of New South Wales, and the western plains, a massive area. They have 6 planes in operation at the moment, and are also responsible for ensuring that remote communities have access to Dr and dental facilities. The crew on board are all highly qualified, and the nurses in particular have to have midwifery qualifications, their general nursing and ICU qualifications because of the nature of the job. The base has a clinic so minor things can be treated on site and they now have 7 cancer specialists working for them, providing palliative care and a 3d scanner paid for by donations and fundraising.

The remote stations and towns are eligible for a full first aid kit. It contains everything you could possibly need for an. Emergency situation, and potentially has saved many lives. The kits are subsidised by the government but communities or individual stations have to contribute $500 to each kit. They are audited regularly and kept in central locations such as the pub. Travellers can also apply for one if they are travelling to remote locations around Australia. If they haven't opened it they don't have to pay for it which I think is an awesome idea, gives you peace of mind and the knowledge that you could save yourself or someone else while waiting for the professionals.

It was first started by a minister who was very much aware of the lack of medical care in rural Australia. He set it up and the first flight was made using a Quanta's plane from Cairns. They were both established/started at the same time. He was charged 2 shilling a mile. One of the first nurses, set up a system to assist with identifying the patients problems. An outline drawing of the back and the front human body was split into sections and numbered. It enabled the doctors to establish quickly where the injury was rather than relying on descriptions from the patients or relatives. Also because the radio wasn't so great, and sometimes not all the words came through leading to confusion.

There was so much information my brain hurts. The fire service keeps a plane at the centre throughout the hot summer months. It's always fuelled up and ready to go, ready to go and support fire fighters on the ground should they need it. There are 4 hangars at the centre and they all face in different directions. This is so the planes can take off and land easily depending on the direction they need to go or where they've come from. The hangars are used to unload patients from the plane into ambulances before they are taken to the health centre for treatment if minor injuries. Or forwarded onto hospitals for the more seriously injured. That call is made by the team on board.

We finally left around 1600hours and got outside of the air conditioned dimly lit exhibition centre into 40 degree heat and blinding sunshine. The van was a bit hot, and we were grateful for the screen protector we picked up at the last campervan depot, it had sdone its job splendidly. Better still it was a freebie someone had left behind.

Our camp for the night was decided over lunch and we were on our way to Orange. It seemed to take a much shorter time to get there than it did going to Dubbo. I'm not sure, but I think that may have had something to do with the fact that we'd finally relented and put on the air con in the van. It was most pleasant. When we arrived at Orange, it was significantly cooler and the site was nicely shaded. Locating it was a bit of a nightmare. I'd used the link from the website I'd booked it through and it just kept telling us we were at our destination. That would have been fabulous but for the fact that we were in the middle of the road and no where near the campsite. Eventually I put in the address and we were a long way short of the site which explained why we couldn't find it!

The showers etc were great , lovely and clean,

plenty of them and conveniently located. There was a bit of breeze so we opened all the doors in the van to get some of the cool air blown through to get rid of the stifling heat that had built up despite the air con being on. A much shorter travel day is planned for tomorrow when we go to The Blue Mountains for two nights.

Much Love


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