Where do I begin ?? Wine, cheese, more wine.. and pharmacy of course. Our first tourist destination in the Hunter Valley was Pokolbin Village. A cute collection of gift shops, cafés, cellar doors, brewery, and also the Pokolbin Village Pharmacy. I popped in and ended up staying a while chatting with John the owner. There are just 3 staff here. A welcoming change from the previous pharmacy he owned which had 47 staff. The opening hours here are 10am to 5pm. Omg how nice would that be ! I was there about 4:30 and there weren't any customers at that time. Saturday is their busiest day and can see him selling up to 80 hats - almost equalling script numbers! There were other interesting items for sale - earphones, selfie sticks, underwear (lovely, eco, bamboo ones that I sort of wanted to buy but would have felt awkward doing so). Pokolbin is the sort of up-market, charming, village pharmacy that sells only a handful of nurofen plus ( but probably plenty of Panadol for all the wine hangovers!) This is place where the most troublesome of customer is the happy wine-drunk kind. They may knock something over, but will buy a bunch of stuff they'll never remember (and probably never needed). Wow. When can I start working here?!
We also did the obligatory wine and cheese tastings and lots more in the Hunter Valley. I would return there in a heartbeat. See below for more of what we saw/drank/ate in the Hunter Valley
We had an amazing week in Forster and Seal Rocks. Definitely a recommendation to visit this place!
Not much pharmacy stuff to report. I was really enjoying a 'holiday' on our holiday. The most productive thing I did was read a book. I did however have a look in the Amcal Max pharmacy in Forster. It was humongous & had an entire wall of sunglasses. Zane couldn't resist & had to buy a pair. So obviously that selling technique works! Props to the Black ice rep. The pharmacy was very clean & faced up and the staff I spoke to were lovely - even though they were working on a public holiday. I guess they'd be getting penalty rates so it's not all bad. (The pharmacist probably is not).
Click below to see more of what we got up to in Forster NSW.
G’day Tamworth! It’s nice to be here….5 days hanging out with a bunch of fun-loving, cowboy-hat-wearing, boot-scooting, true blue Aussies! We listened to some bluegrass tunes and comedy by Pete Denaghy, some yodelling by Justin Standley (remember from x factor?), and some pretty good performances by the tamworth songwriters association (props for banjo girl!). We also managed a few bits and pieces of the Hill Billy Goats and The Bob Corbett Band. Unfortunately Stella is now in the full swing of being a toddler and insists on running everywhere which makes it all a bit more difficult than we anticipated. We did have fun though, wandering through the markets checking out the buskers on every corner (including in front of the pharmacy), and the street performers - one who was pretty good at whip cracking. We also got to see Caitlyn Shadbolt (from last years X factor). She was really good.
One of the best parts of Tamworth was actually where we camped. We stayed on a property not far from the main street. There were horses, rabbits, guinea pigs, chooks, birds, a cat and dog so Stella loved it. It was also nice and quiet… you could only just hear the hum of the music at night. Would recommend a visit to the festival even for those who don’t like country music. It was a great experience!
Toowoomba -the town with beautiful parks and flowers and beautiful people! We visited our friend Katanya, who is also a Pharmacist (we went to uni together). We stayed at her place with more Pharmacist friends and not only was the company amazing, but having a real bed and a house with a washing machine. Oh the luxury! We checked out the Cobb and Co museum and had a lovely lunch across from the parklands. We talked some pharmacist talk and I checked out the community pharmacy where Katanya works. It was huge! They have everything you can imagine. Weight loss, sleep apnea, one of those information machines where you can print stuff off (I like those!). They do have a pretty massive script turnover though. I also got chatting to Paige, another Pharmacist friend. In addition to working full time, she is doing HMRs through her pharmacy. This is something I’d be interested in doing in the future, so it was good to find out how she does it all. Toowoomba was actually really beautiful and we would have liked to stay longer.
Our next stop was Tamworth. However, 6 hours is a bit too long for Stella (and us) in the car so we decided to break up the drive. We stopped at a free camp in Glen Innes, then had a look around Armidale the next day on our way to the Country music capital :)
So who would have thought that just 45 minutes away from bustling Burleigh was this whole other world of misty mountains, beautiful creeks, rainforest and wildlife!
We camped for 2 nights at at place called Spring Gully Stays in Canungra. We were with my brother and his family and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. At least it felt that way. There was a little creek running just behind us and after a hot day it was pretty amazing to jump in there. But we never stayed in too long, as the water was super cold. We had a fire at night and the kids did the marshmallow thing.
We had a look around the town of Canungra. Of course I had to check out the Pharmacy :) I was pleasantly surprised. The pharmacist here is 81 years old and is still running the place! An older guy of about 60, sporting a huge beard (quite impressive) and a long ponytail was standing in the dispensary. I got chatting with the pharmacist's daughter-In-law who told me this guy was their dispense tech. Haha what a way to throw out that stereotype! There were no staff uniforms here and his young granddaughters worked in the shop helping customers (school holiday time).
The walls were full of framed registration and graduation certificates from a long time ago. Beside them were some prized photos of fish he had caught. Obviously his other passion. Love it!
After Canungra we drove up the mountain (800 metres above sea level) to Binna Burra, in Lamington National Park. The views were beautiful and we enjoyed some walks through the rainforest (except for the leeches that is). It's pretty gross finding leeches on your baby! Don't worry, we got them off quickly.
We spent a day in Mount Tamborine. We were lucky enough to be there on market day (once a month). I love Markets! We also checked out the brewery and cheese factory. The gallery walk was great. Right through the main street filled with quirky shops, cute cafes and some serious hippy, crystal stuff going on. It reminded us a bit of Kuranda.
We also managed a quick day trip back to the Gold Coast to see my sister and family who were holidaying there. We had a great time but didn’t think ahead to the drive home though. At 7pm it is almost impossible to see anything driving up the mountain. The fog/cloud cover was so thick we had to drive 30km/hr most of the way.
Off we headed for the glittering Gold Coast. First stop was the pharmacy in Southport. I sat down outside, dressed in my whites and waited. I was a little uncomfortable.. But I’ve heard that being uncomfortable is a good thing. Something about growth..learning.. blah blah. Ok I’m fine. Just bored of waiting.
Moments before the doors were due to open the Pharmacist arrived (Pharmacists aren’t always known for punctuality). The young male pharmacist had recently finished his intern year here and was staying on as a full time Pharmacist. Compared to some interns I’ve worked with, this guy seemed to have things sorted (pretty much) and was confident. As it was early Jan, the shop was quiet and we spent the day tidying up the end of year stuff.
After work we drove for 40 minutes to our apartment in Burleigh Heads. It was awesome here! Within a day we were ready to join the gym, get some botox and maybe a spray tan (dark of course). We were in the land of the beautiful people… and the people who look beautiful from afar… but not so much up close anymore.
We leads me to the next interesting thing I discovered. While Southport is not quite as nice as Burleigh (understatement), it has more of its share of ‘colourful’ people, it still has its muscle men. They drift in from the gym across the road, grimacing and flexing, and present with their script for ‘Arimidex’ (anastrozole). The first guy that handed me this script actually got my sympathy as I initially thought ‘wow this poor young dude has breast cancer!’ I mean the script wasn’t private. I’m not fully aware of PBS requirements but I figure cancer is probably the only one allowed’. But the scripts kept coming, mostly private, same Doctor. Turns out… according to steroidmuscleuserswhateverIgoogled.com, anabolic steroid users are seeking anastrozole to reduce the adverse effects of steroid use. Steroids can cause breast growth, thinning hair, fluid retention…dickheaditis..the list goes on.. And anastrazole, being an oestrogen receptor antagonist can combat these effects. Probably not the last one though.
The doses prescribed were half to one tablet three times a week. So 1 box should last between 2 and 4 months. I had guys asked to buy all their repeats at once. Dumb. Seems to me that you’ve gone to far when you’re buying breast cancer drugs off your mates at the gym to stop your boobs getting bigger.
We had a fantastic time on the Gold Coast. We dined with old friends and even snuck in a date night for our wedding anniversary, (The Hobbit is awesome!), thanks to my in-laws. We were sad to leave. Now we are off to Canungra in the Gold Coast hinterland to camp with my brother and his family.
We have spent just under a week in Brisbane and have had a great time. We caught up with a lot of friends and family. It was a real social week! We greeted the new year (well we didn't actually make it to midnight) by braving Southbank with 50,000 others for the fireworks and some people watching. We managed to beat the crowds to get on the first ferry home and put some very tired kids to bed.
I have a locum job coming up on the Gold Coast and had attempted to contact the owner of the pharmacy I was to be working at. When I finally managed to get hold of him he said he had arranged another Pharmacist to work… What?! I freaked out. The Gold Coast had been almost booked out and with little option we had booked into a 2 bedroom unit. We wrangled my in-laws to stay with us (which didn’t take too much convincing!) So yep, a much to more expensive option to camping, but hey.. I’m working (or at least I though I was).
He rang back 20 minutes later to say everything was fine. I start on the 2nd Jan. Phew.
So our first adventure for 2015 was here. Zane will play house husband for 5 days. Pretty tough gig on the Gold Coast! I will don my pharmacist jacket for the first time in over a month. I’m actually looking forward to it.. So long as there are no armed hold ups I should be fine.. Maybe I should learn more about the bikie laws?
Well it's been a little while since I posted anything. This whole blogging thing takes more time than I originally thought! So I've split this post into 2 parts.
PART 1. COFFEE and PHARMACY
This episode takes us from Yeppoon/ Kinka beach to Agnes Waters. It was the 22nd Dec and we had originally planned to spend a night in Tannum Sands but the friendly nomads advised us against this (too many sandflies apparently - not good for Stella). So we found ourselves at our first free camp just south of Gladstone (Benaraby). The place was lovely and shady and FREE! So we set up camp for one night and watched the others trickle in and out as the day progressed. The next morning we headed to Agnes Waters. We fueled up (only $1.25/L!) and as we were driving out of Miriam Vale I saw a sign advertising 2 of my favourite things - Coffee and Pharmacy ! So naturally we had to pull up. The coffee guy was putting his signs out & we had a chat. Turns out they had all been robbed the night before last. Nothing like a robbery to invoke the Christmas spirit. How disappointing.
We went and introduced ourselves to Jacquie from Miriam Vale pharmacy. Both her and her husband are pharmacists. They own and operate the pharmacy together. She told me they had previously worked at a major metropolitan hospital, but looking for a change they came to Miriam Vale and set up a new pharmacy. They have found it very rewarding.
A quick scan around this small pharmacy tells me that Webster packs are just $2/week. Pretty good. Jacquie tells me they have a lot of older customers (some 90 years +) that they cater to. The script trade is small and there isn't a permanent GP in town. It's also hard to come by a locum pharmacist & she asked if id be around to locum for her later in the year! Not sure if we'll head back this way but if we do I'd be happy to help.
PART 2. CHRISTMAS At AGNES WATERS
Today was a good day and so was yesterday. The day before that? Not so much.Every day we learn a little bit more about life on the road and how to 'live' it better. In other words what stuff to leave behind, what we actually need and how to be more organised! Having a little one along for the ride sure makes things a bit more challenging. But totally worth it :)
We are camped now at a lovely place called Kinka Beach, near Yeppoon. The caravan park is great and we have met some nice people here. We even got involved in the Friday joker night and won ourselves a meat tray... Problem is now how to store it in the engel fridge! Stella is having a ball playing with the other kids...and dogs. I'm surprised how many grey nomads have dogs! We also went on a small hike to Limestone Conservation Park.
Unfortunately Stella's been attacked by mozzies everywhere we've gone. We've had to resort to dressing her in long pants, sleeves, shoes and socks and repellent. Even though it's hot as anything. Well some of the bites aren't looking so good. She has had a staph/skin infection thing a while back from a bite, so I'm a bit paranoid. Out comes the Bactroban! Thankfully it's back in stock huh ;)
So we headed off to the local pharmacy to get some supplies. (You would think I would have enough stuff already!) The pharmacy was a Livelife Pharmacy in Yeppoon. It was bright and fun & almost had more gift lines than actual medication. But it is Christmas after all. The girls at the front counter were lovely and offered some tourist tips. I tried to get the Pharmacist's attention but she seemed intent to avoid eye contact and appear busy in the dispensary. (Ok..so she probably was busy.. but a little nod and smile isn't that hard).
This got me thinking. How many times do we Pharmacists hide away in the dispensary ? I know that I do it. But I'm definitely more aware of it than I used to be. It is not just the pharmacy assistant's job to meet and greet the customers. If anything, it is the Pharmacist's job to be at the front of the pharmacy. Imagine what we would discover if we just had more conversations with people. I hope you all get out there today and say hi. The claim can wait.. The safety nets can wait (actually its Dec 21st so they probably can't. Nothing like that last minute safety net inundation!). Leave everything else & go have a chat and help some people!!