Page 136: Westward Hoe
  Australia's public health system  

Yes, I know what you're thinking. Here he goes again, slamming something else with his acerbic sarcasm. Well, this time you are wrong!

Saturday evening: My right eye was itching.

Sunday morning: My top right eyelid was red and swollen.

Monday morning: Both lids were red and very swollen, my right eye was closed and weeping. Pam asked the park reception for a doctor's contact number. Reception phoned the practice for us. I was given an immediate appointment. The doctor was extremely thorough. He prescribed antibiotic cream and tablets, took a swab sample for the lab and made me an appointment for the following morning. The pharmacist obliged. Treatment commenced.

Tuesday morning: I returned to the doctor who saw a definite improvement. He explained that some eye infections can quickly travel to the brain - stop laughing - and can even cause death. Had he not seen an improvement I would have been straight into hospital and on an intravenous drip. He gave me another appointment for Friday and told Pam that if there was any deterioration in the meanwhile, she was to take me straight to hospital. I continued the cream, the tablets and the improvement.

Friday morning; my eye was 95% as good as new. The doc instructed me to continue the treatment for the remainder of the day then cease. When we went to the reception desk to settle up there was no charge for Friday, the visit had been bulk billed. Medicare had already reimbursed us for the first two visits. Just five days in the system and I was cured.

This was an exemplary service performed by charming people, not automatons, who achieved a one hundred percent outcome for a very reasonable cost. I just cannot imagine how this service could have been improved.

So there you have it, Medicare at its best and working as it should.

  Moving on  

Unusually we have a plan for the next few months which will take us to three states and about fifteen caravan parks in four months.

We heard that Marie Hodson and Kirsty Lee Akers, two very talented country singers, are to appear at a one-day festival in a little town called Bunyip in West Gippsland. Thus this morning finds us in Warragul, the nearest town of any size to Bunyip.

Just in case you were wondering, a bunyip is a mythical Aboriginal creature said to inhabit swamps and stagnant pools. Location, location, location, as the real estate agents say.

We went to look at Bunyip and I just had to take a photo of a retro clock that was on the wall of the Blacksmith's Café . . .


This clock looks like it might have graced an old railway station in the days of steam, as did the one below at Bright (before
the station became a museum). In fact, it is brand new from Freedom Furniture and has a battery powered quartz movement.

  "Wind at 9.0 AM Monday" the sticker says. But nobody does.  

On the subject of country music, we mentioned our forthcoming visit to the doctor who fixed up my eye.
"Country music," he mused, "I'd rather have a leg cut off."


The Railway Hotel in Bunyip looks pretty retro too, at least from the outside, but I think it's just old and in need of TLC.
Did you hear about the passenger who complained to the porter that the two clocks hanging above the station platform
were set to different times? "There'd be no point in having two," the porter retorted, "if they both told the same time."


After the Bunyip festival we'll head to Geelong where we'll meet up with friends and attend Australia's premier air show at Avalon. We'll then wander around western Victoria for a while then go back to Porepunkah for the Autumn Festival.

There's a flying weekend at Temora in N.S.W. where some of their pristine vintage aircraft will be flying. This is the collection owned by David Lowy, the heir to the Westfield fortune, and a champion aerobatic pilot in his own right. I'd be very surprised if we don't find ourselves there for a day or three.

Parkes, where the big telescope featured in the movie, "The Dish", is situated. Parkes is also (in)famous for having an annual Elvis Presley festival where Elvis look-alikes come from all around the country. As the doctor said, I'd rather have a leg cut off.

We'll be pausing in Tamworth to 'catch up' with loads of friends (it's not country festival time, that was January) before pushing on to Brisbane to meet up with Pam's two best friends from Perth, Pat and Tracey.

  The bunyip country music festival  

Perhaps 'festival' is overstating this event as it started at 10 o'clock on Sunday morning and finished eight hours later. For some unfathomable reason there was no provision made for bad weather, and for the first three hours it rained that fine rain that soaks you through.

The performers were nice and dry on a stage which consisted of two large trailers parked side by side with a plastic sheet tied over the top. The huge speakers on either side of the stage were protected by enormous tarps. The cables running out to the sound controller's console were snug inside ducting. The sound controller was in a gazebo. However, the public - who had paid $25 each to enter - were left to make their own arrangements.

  When the show started, this was the scene. The, err, crowd, was almost outnumbered by the security men.  

I was coming around to sympathising with the doctor's opinion - I'd rather have a leg cut off. The presenter promised us that the rain was going to clear about midday and although his timing was a bit off, the rain did stop and a half respectable crowd dribbled in.

As I mentioned, we were there to see Marie Hodson and Kirsty Lee Akers in particular. Both gave very professional performances and we were able to chat to both of them. By a strange coincidence, both are shorter than Pam, Kirsty considerably so.

  Kirsty Lee Akers now and as she was when we first met her. Apart from those big brown eyes, we wouldn't have known her.  
  Marie Hodson (left) has a wonderful voice. Johanna Hemara (right) can yodel like you wouldn't believe.  
  As the afternoon progressed the old and the young in the crowd became increasingly conspicuous. The youngsters lost their early shyness and some became little exhibitionists. The older ones, mainly the ladies, began line dancing more ambitiously between visits to the bar.  
  Ain't kids cute . . . when you don't have to take them home?  
  Line dancers on the left, but it's those two in the centre of the right picture that made me wonder. They're both female.  
  This group is called Simply Bushed and though we'd never heard them before, they were excellent.  
  Though I have many more pictures, perhaps you've had enough to convince you that the doctor was right! Just one more, though. And, yes, of course it's an attractive woman.  




At the Festival was a rather nice press photographer who took photographs of anything that might make a human interest story. So I'm calling this picture . . .

                                    The Bighter Bit!


All things considered we enjoyed the Festival very much despite the early rain, and were very relieved that we'd resisted visiting the bar when we found the police breath testing every driver as they left.

  Melbourne City  

Melbourne is a place dedicated to reducing a person to poverty in the shortest possible time. Thank the good Lord we only stayed two nights. We went to the Big Smoke to meet up with a friend from my gliding days and his son, both pilots.

  Dear old Melbourne, as ever a mix of the beautiful old and all too often garish new.  
  We stayed at a Travelodge somewhere across the Yarra near the blue tower.  

On Saturday we all went to the Avalon Air Show and watched old and new aircraft being put through their paces. One very spectacular demonstration was performed by a glider fitted with . . . wait for it . . . a jet engine.

  This H-101 Salto (German for 'loop') glider was fitted with an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) jet engine from a larger aircraft. It is flown here by its American owner, Bob Carlton, at speeds up to 175 knots. Smoke canisters are attached to the wing tips.  
  What's happening here? Bob had climbed vertically until the Salto stalled and the nose dropped.
At this instant the glider is horizontal but starting to sink vertically - the smoke trails tell the story.
Next the nose will drop further and the aircraft will pick up forward speed and once again respond to the controls.
  Who remembers the Lockheed Super Constellation? They were built between 1943 and 1958. This example belongs to the
Historical Aircraft Restoration Society. We'd met "Connie" previously at Illawarra Airfield near Wollongong but had not seen her fly.