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    quokka
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Top End Doctor - 22. Dr Chapter 22

“Hello you have Tim Hope and you are on loud speaker,” Tim said when he answered the call, “Hey Tim, this is Joshua Eccleston at the Sandpalms Roadhouse, you are not going to believe this till you see it, but we have a convoy heading your way, I have counted 40 so far and still counting,” the caller said.

Tim and Uncle James laughed, “Well I be, they must have been all lined up at the intersection waiting for the bridge to open, I will let the others know, thanks for the call, bye,” Tim said, and after ending the call, he dialled a new number, “Harry, round up the troops, we have a convoy of residents that are passing the Sandpalms, and Joshua had counted 40 vehicles so far and still counting,” Tim said when the call was answered, and moments later a siren sounded from the Emergency services sheds.

“That’s one way to get everyone gathered,” Uncle James said with a huge smile, while Toby and I covered our ears from the loud sound, and thankfully it only lasted for a minute, before it went silent. Harry and Annie arrived at the junction in the two fire four wheel drives, and parked them on the side of the road facing inwards.

“You may want to move your vehicle, as we are about to give the convoy a watery salute as they arrive,” Harry called out to us, and Uncle James waved to say that he understood, and we climbed back into the Land Rover, and headed for the next intersection of Pyramus Road, just 700 metres away, to watch them arrive from there, and Gill Anders soon arrived with her four wheel drive ambulance, with emergency lights flashing, and she parked on the opposite side of the road from us.

“I received a call from Angela Gibson she is your Yacht’s captain? Anyway apparently your crew have been pre-warned about this convoy and the street party and barbeques that is to follow, down at the Lodge, your housekeeper and chef have prepared everything for your family and the crew,” Gill informed us, which was a real big surprise.

“Really; so the returning residents have planned all of this?” Uncle James asked, “Apparently so, yes. They have asked the Healy’s at Crab Claw and the Eccleston’s at Sandpalms, to grab their barbecue’s and join us,” Gill replied.

When the first of the convoy arrived, they tooted their horns, cheered and waved to us as they passed, and we waved back to them, as the convoy slowly passed us by, before we looked down the road, and waited to see the water fire hoses create an arch of water as the vehicle passed under it, with lots more of car horn blasts, which was joined by an even bigger and louder horn blast which we recognised as coming from the yacht.

After about twenty vehicles had passed us, Uncle James told us to sit down properly, as we are heading into town the back way, and we went down the road for about 500 metres before turning right onto Balanda Drive, and heading north towards the Lodge, and we managed to get ahead of the convoy by about a minute, and as we climbed out Toby pointed out the yacht, anchored offshore about fifty metres.

“Looks like she had learnt her lesson,” Tim commented, referring to Captain Angela, and her anchoring the yacht in deeper water, so as not to get stuck in the mud again, and we watch as the sports boat was lowered down to the water, and the crew and staff climbed in and made their way to shore.

What was surprising is that for mid March, the weather has been quite kind to us, although we are still getting high humidity, the heavy showers or rain have stayed away, and the humidity is cooled when we get a strong westerly wing blowing, to cool us all down.

Someone had brought along a cricket set, so a beach cricket match was soon in full swing, and we only just now noticed that there were large palm log posts, stuck into the mud, about fifteen metres into the water, and on closer inspection, we saw that there are palm logs placed lying down between the posts, creating a semi-circular wall, that is just below the waterline, creating a croc free safe swimming area.

“Very clever, we will have to devise a more permanent one as part of the recovery project, strengthen the rock wall on the north side, and create another one on the south side, with a small jetty at the end,” Tim said to Uncle James, who nodded his head in agreement. “You are the engineer in the family, I will leave that one up to you,” Uncle James said to Tim smiling, and Tim just laughed, as we went to join in the cricket match.

With the sun setting, and the dinner all cooked, we sat down to enjoy our barbecue dinner, and we learnt that George and Gladys are providing free camping in their holiday park for this one night, and everyone had brought tents and sleeping gear with them.

It was nearly 9 pm, and Toby had already fallen asleep in the back of the Land Rover, when Tim called for some silence. “Ladybirds and Gentlebugs,” Tim began and there was a loud chuckle at his bit of humour, “I must say this has been the best flash community party that I have ever attended.

Thank you to those who thought of it, and I guess you could say this is our Cyclone Recovery Party… maybe we should make it an annual event? Anyway we will think on that later, I must retire for the night, as I have family, and one of the boys has already fallen asleep. So, thankyou to all for attending, I will be in my office at the community centre at 9 am, if anyone has any enquiries, feel free to call in. Goodnight,” Tim said and he walked towards us, with Uncle James and me already in the vehicle waiting.

When we arrived home, Uncle James carried Toby to his bedroom and put him to bed, and I had a quick shower before heading to bed also, and I soon fell asleep, after a long and exciting day.

The following morning, after breakfast we as a family, along with Angela and Declan headed into town, for Tim he had to do some work at his new office, and Uncle James just wanted to have a look around, now that we have residents back in town, and when we arrived at the community centre, there was already quite a large line waiting for the centre to open.

Tim handed the keys to the community centre to Declan, while he parked the car around the back of the centre, and there was one other vehicle parked there, which we recognised to be Ms Anders car, and she stepped out when she saw us parking.

“Good morning all, what a wonderful day for the beginning of a new community,” she said smiling, with arm stretched horizontally and she did a twirl around, which made Angela laugh. “My word you are a happy one today,” Angela said.

“Yes Ms Gibson, I try to be happy all the time, even with all the challenges we have in life,” Ms Anders responded, as she followed us through the back door of the entry foyer, where we saw that the crowd had been left standing outside. “Might as well let them in Declan, I’m sure that Ms Anders and I can handle all the enquiries, you just get them inside in an orderly manner,” Tim said.

“We will be across the hall, I want to check these community rooms again, as I have a possible idea for one or two of them,” Uncle James said and Toby and I followed him into the other part of the building. “Tell me boys, how did you like having Ms Parker as a teacher?” Uncle James asked us after entering the main community hall area.

“She was good, I like her,” Toby replied, “I agree she is friendly and not bossy like one person I know,” I responded, “Oh! Who is… never mind, I can guess,” Uncle James said with a hint of a smile. “Why? Are you thinking of making this place into a school?” I asked.

“Yes possibly, it all depends on how many kids will return to the area, and if Ms Parker will return to be the community teacher, we will have to get Mr Long to give her a call, as I didn’t see her at the party last night,” Uncle James replied. “I saw Ms Wright, but I didn’t see Ms Parker at all,” I said to Uncle James.

“Oh, ok, well we may go for a little drive around to see if we can track her down,” Uncle James said just as we heard the door open between the lobby and the hall, and in walked Ms Wright.

“Your are just the person we were about to go and find, where is your partner, I didn’t see her at the party last night,” Uncle James said to Ms Wright, “She is at home ins Darwin with the flu, so she couldn’t make it,” Ms Wright replied.

“I see, well I hope that she recovers quickly. Tell me, how many children did you have here at this community school?” Uncle James asked, “23 in total, seven in years 1 & 2, five in years 3 & 4, four in year 5, 4 in year 6 & and two in year 7.

Before the cyclone we had two classrooms, and a library, plus an office for us, so it was fairly basic, Alice would set out the mornings lessons for the younger classes, before going next door, leaving me to supervise them, while she taught the years 5 to 7 next door,” Ms Wright replied.

“I see, and would you think this will do in the mean time, if all the students return?” Uncle James replied, “I am certain of it, I’m not sure if you are aware of it but most of them were here last night, although Gladys, Anny and I were keeping them entertained in the lodge, most of the time,” Ms Wright replied.

“Excellent, this will only be temporary, we already have plans to have a bigger and better facility before the end of the year,” Uncle James said. Although I am only a Teacher’s aid, I do have a Degree in Sports, Recreation and Event Management,” June Wright announced, “Excellent, you will be an added bonus for our improved community, once we get the sports and recreation facilities going,” Uncle James said, and he headed for the lobby area, which was crowed with people.

Angela let out a loud whistle and everyone went silent, “Right, it looks like we need to have some order here, so how about we get this sorted quickly shall we. All people wishing to enquire about the medical clinic please follow Dr Shaw to the other building, all people wishing to speak about recreation facilities or the community school also go into the other building with Ms Wright, that leaves general enquiries, which I am sure Mr Hope and his assistant Mr Sengler and myself can handle,” Angela said, and just like that the chaos had dissipated.

“Amazing, you are a handy woman to have around, well done,” Uncle James said as he headed back the way he came, with us following, and he continued into one of the meeting rooms, and retrieving a fold up table and some chairs he set them up, before sitting down.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I will be opening up the new medical clinic as of tomorrow, with opening hours of 9 am to 12 noon Monday to Friday, anything that is urgent, and can’t wait until then I will open up the clinic for two hours, starting in… half an hour,” Uncle James announced after looking at his watch.

In the background we could hear Ms Wright’s loud voice talking to her group, announcing that the school would be commencing next week, in this building for all school years, she said that most of the books and other stuff had been destroyed, but she is hoping to get replacements as quickly as possible.

Once all of Uncle James’s enquiries had been settled, he asked us to remain here for a while, until he returns from the clinic and that if we need anything to ask Angela, Declan or Tim. “Anything we can help you with Doc?” Seamus asked with his strong accent.

“Um… yes there is actually, walk with me to the clinic and we will talk on the way,” Uncle James replied as he walked out. After about fifteen minutes of doing absolutely nothing, we were both very bored, so we headed out to the lobby to find Angela or Declan.

“Anything we can do, as we are getting very bored just sitting in there doing absolutely nothing,” I said when we found Angela at the reception desk.

Copyright © March 2020 Preston Wigglesworth. All Rights Reserved.
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As a Yank, I will have to get used to December, January, and February, being summer months and July, August and September Being the months of Winter, but perhaps if I stand on my head I can remember that.

Do you Australians pronounce Seamus as 'She-mus' or 'Shay-mus'?

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