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    quokka
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Top End Doctor - 14. Dr Chapter 14

“Did you remind the crew that we are setting off at 8 am tomorrow morning, when you had the chat with them earlier?” Uncle James asked Tim. “I did, and they were not too pleased on missing out on another party night, when I asked them to back on board no later than 10 pm,” Tim replied.

“Morning all,” Mrs Quinn said when she entered the dining room, but she didn’t appear to be her same bubbly left, “Is everything ok?” Uncle James asked her, “Yes Dr, just had some family news, and I since we are not doing any mission work for two months, I am going to head off down to Adelaide this afternoon, to be with my Uncle and their children, as his wife is in palliative care,” Mrs Quinn replied.

“We are sorry to hear that, we hope that all is ok with your family,” Uncle James responded, “Thankyou, after breakfast I will pack and head off, as an I have a few things to do before my flight this afternoon,” Mrs Quinn replied.

“Sorry to interrupt you, I have just been informed by Declan, that our two stewards have packed their belongings and just left the yacht, they handed him this note as they left,” Tracy said when she entered, and handed over the note to Tim.

“We here by quite this job, please pay our remaining wages into our bank accounts,” Tim said reading the note, out loud for all of us to hear. “I hope we don’t loose any more crew, or we may be struggling to cope with everything,” Uncle James commented.

“I asked Declan, and he is happy with this job and wants to stay on for as long as possible,” Tracy said before heading back to the galley. “What is everyone else doing, while I am supervising the work on the main deck?” Tim asked, “Time to do some shopping, Tracy and I heading into town to do some clothes shopping, as we don’t have much in the way of clothes for this type of weather,” Angela said.

“Retail therapy, sounds good, I am taking the boys back to the house to do some more packing, so we have enough clothes and stuff for the new place, and maybe some more shopping too,” Uncle James announced, “Sounds good, I thought maybe all senior crew can join us for a barbeque dinner at our home at 7 am, to give our chef a night off,” Tim announced, “That sounds delightful, we look forward to attending,” Angela replied.

When we gathered for dinner that evening, with Angela, Tracy and Declan attending, we had an enjoyable and relaxing evening, “By the way, James and I have had a discussion, and I will be driving to Dundee Beach, as we need to have a vehicle there, so the Land Rover Defender and I are going by road, and leaving at the same time as you leave, so I will get there about 1 ½ hours ahead of you,” Tim announced.

“Can we come with you please,” Toby asked, and I nodded my head in agreement, and Uncle James smiled and nodded, that it was fine by him, so Tim said ok. “Looks like the family will be staying home for the night, and I will be at the yacht about 0730,” Uncle James said to Angela.

The next morning, Uncle James drove us to a vehicle storage facility, where we collected the Defender, transferred our entire luggage to the Defender, before we said goodbye to Uncle James, so he could take the car home and catch a cab to the marina.

After calling into a service station to fill up the main and auxillary fuel tanks, which is a total of 110 litres for the main tank and 190 for the auxiliary tank, we set off down the Stuart highway, leaving Darwin city behind.

“What happened to the cyclone, Uncle Tim?” Toby asked, and Tim chuckled, before answering, “I like the sound of that, and to answer your question nephew, it has just passed over Pine Creek, which is 225 kilometres South of Darwin, and it is now a category three cyclone, luckily for us we only need to go as far south as Livingstone, before turning off the highway and heading West,” Tim replied.

“Why? Is the highway flooded further down? Uncle Tim” I asked, taking Toby’s lead, “Yes, the highway south is closed from the Bachelor Road turnoff, but just to be sure that it isn’t closed on the highway at Elizabeth river, we better take a detour, just in case,” Tim replied, and a few minutes later we turned right off the highway, just out of Berrimah, before skirting along the western edge of Palmerston.

When we crossed over a large bridge, the water was very high and close to the bottom of the bridge, “Just as I thought, if the water is this high here, then the highway will be closed before Elizabeth River,” Tim said as he slowed before turning left onto another road.

“The way we are going, there are a few creek crossings, so I am not very sure if we can cross them or not, we will have to wait and see,” Tim commented, and a few minutes later we made another right hand turn, and now we were heading south again.

About ten minutes later we crossed over a railway line, then two creek crossings that are a few kilometres apart, which had some water on the road, but not enough to block our way. When Tim’s phone beeped with a message, Tim asked me to read the message for him.

“It says it is a Road Report from the department of Transport, notifying all road users that the following roads are closed, Arnhem Highway from Lambell Lagoon Road at Lambell Lagoon, Stuart Highway, from the Arnhem Highway turnoff, all roads south of Lowther road, Bees Creek, and Erundie Road at the junction of Chung Wah Terrace, Moulden,” I said reading out the message.

“We got passed just in time then, Chung Wah Terrace is just before that large bridge crossing, another five minutes later, and we would have had to turn around,” Tim informed us. Slowing down to a junction, we turned right, and Tim breathed out with a sigh. “We are on Cox Peninsular road now, so we should be fine for the rest of the journey,” Tim added.

“Wow, look at all that water,” Toby said as we crossed over a smaller bridge, with the water starting to reach the road. “That is what I was afraid of, we may come across some difficulties, when we turn onto Fog bay road, as there are a lot of creek crossings on that road,” Tim commented.

A few minutes later, Tim had to slow right down, as there was a lot of water on the bridge, “Just as well we have the Land Rover, I don’t think the car would have made it all the way there, and we may be pushing it a bit too,” Tim said.

Fifteen minutes later we turned left, “This is Fog Bay road, which takes us to Dundee Beach, we have about 8 creeks that we need to cross on this road, which is bitumen all the way, but it is a narrow road, and Launceston road where our property is located, is 7 kilometres of gravel road,” Tim said.

Each time we approached a creek crossing, we slowed down to a crawl, but we were able to get across, and eventually after going around a sharp bend, we turned right onto a gravel road. “We are almost there boys, we are very lucky to have left when we did, or we would be on the yacht with the others,” Tim said, as he travelled slowly up the slippery gravel road.

When Tim slowed and turned then stopped, we noticed a tall fence, with a gate across the driveway, and a large sign. “Restricted Area. No Trespassing. Entry by appointment only,” was what the sign read in large letters, with a mobile phone number in smaller lettering.

Opening his window, Tim held a card against a reader, located on a post, and seconds later the heavy steel gate slid open, and Tim drove through and stopped, waiting for the gate to close fully before moving on. “Wow, why the high security?” I asked, “It gives us our privacy, and keeps nosey people out,” Tim replied smiling, as he drove on slowly, and moments later the house came into view.

“Wow, that is some house,” I commented as we crossed a little creek and stopped under the house. “Right, lets get this unloaded and everything inside, before you start to explore the house,” Tim said to us.

Tim reminded us where our bedrooms are, and we headed in that direction with our suitcases and backpack. Once on the upper level, I chose the bedroom closest to the stairs, which faces towards the river, and what a view it is too, with windows on the West and North sides, while Toby has windows facing North and East.

After exploring the upper levels of the house, including the private lounge and office, we headed downstairs from the Verandah, and we discovered the generator room, and across the way is another area that had the water tank, laundry and gas bottles.

Under the house has room for two vehicle to park, and in the on each side, there is a door, with the sign ‘Stairs’ on the door, with one of them we used to get up to the main part of the house. Heading back up to the main living area, we opened the door in the stair well.

“This must be one of the strong rooms that Uncle Tim mentioned, as we looked around the room, which has a large kitchenette, with plenty of cupboard space, and a bathroom in the corner, while the lounge area has one double lounge and two single lounge chairs, with a large television on the wall.

Heading back up to the main living area, we sat down in one of the two lounge areas in the house. “How do you like it?” Tim asked us, when he appeared, “It is awesome,” Uncle Tim, “We even found the safe rooms,” I added.

“That is good, now you know where to go when there is an emergency. I am not sure if you noticed but the main doors into the stairwells from the carport are all air tight, so if we were to have a huge flood, which I highly doubt, as we are too high up from sea level at high tide, as long as those doors are locked, then the house is secure, and that includes the generator room and gas bottle room.

Even the septic tanks are air tight, so there is no chance of them getting flooded and causing the toilets to block up,” Tim announced to us. “How long until the yacht arrives?” I asked, “About an hour from now, so how about just relaxing, it is too wet outside to go exploring the rest of the property. We have plenty of DVD’s to watch movies and documentaries, so just get settle in.

When the yacht does arrive, we will drive the Land Rover down to the jetty, to make it easier, to get any supplies up to the house,” Tim said to us. I stood and went out onto the verandah, and watched the heavy rain as it blocked vision any further than the creek, but is was very cooling, and I just sat down in a chair to watch the rain for a while.

Time must have passed quickly as a blast of the yacht’s horn, brought me out of a daze, and I saw that Toby was sitting near me, and we stood up just as Tim appeared, “Can you boys stay here, as the crew may want to come over to have a look at the house?” Tim asked and not waiting for a reply he headed down the spiral stairs.

Moments later we watched as the Land Rover drove down the paved path towards the jetty, and disappeared out of sight as the rain was getting heavier. A few minutes later the house telephone rang, and I went to answer it. “Hey Reid, did you have a good trip with Uncle Tim?” Uncle James asked me, “Yes, but we had to be careful with crossing some creeks with all the water running over the road,” I replied.

“Yes, so Tim told me, listen carefully, Angela has just given us another cyclone update, the blasted thing is still chasing us, as it is now heading west-north-west, and is just east of Tipperary Station, which is about 130 kilometres south-east of here, so I need you to go out onto the verandah and the balcony, and close all of the storm shutters.

You will find steel tube bars, that lock the shutters in place, located in the pantry near the fridges, we will be there shortly, once we have made sure that the yacht is secured properly, bye” Uncle James said before ending the call.

Copyright © March 2020 Preston Wigglesworth. All Rights Reserved.
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Awesome chapter. They have all arrived at the house with the cyclones still chasing them and are about to lower the storm shutters. Interesting times ahead for our family and crew.

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An interesting chapter, trying to follow the Land Rover's route on Google Maps. 

Note: Google Maps shows Tipperary Station as being Southeast of Dundee rather than Northwest. Are there more than one place with that name?

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29 minutes ago, frosenblum said:

An interesting chapter, trying to follow the Land Rover's route on Google Maps. 

Note: Google Maps shows Tipperary Station as being Southeast of Dundee rather than Northwest. Are there more than one place with that name?

Thanks, I’ve fixed it now.

More dramas to come...

Edited by quokka
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The road to Dundee is an adventure of its own. (I remember the kind of flooding we use to get in New Orleans, which is 5 feet below sea level.  Some of the families own rowboats to be able to navigate St. Charles Avenue, depending on how bad the flood. On one occasion, where I had to take an important test, I had one friend wade/swim to the university in a scuba suit, while another friend ferried me in by jeep!) When it was revealed that the carport was below the house, I thought "instant indoor swimming pool," but Quokka provides an excellent explanation as to why the house and its facilities are safe. Whew!

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I do not know how there are any Australians left, I was reading about crocodiles and alligators, snakes, spiders (my god, fifteen different species that can kill), jellyfish, sea snakes, rockfish, and the list goes on and on. I am currently living on the margins of the Brazilian rain-forest the only thing I have to worry  about is mosquitoes and black flies and 'Deet'(OFF!) takes care of most of them. Oh, there is also one breed of big (2m)  snake in the reservoir next to our house, but at my advanced age, I don't go swimming very often. In the time I have been living here we have had one night of nearly continuous thunder and lightning, but we have an agreement with Jupiter(the god of storms) and he brings the rain only at 3:00AM every other night during the wet season.

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