New Zealand – Bay of Island and Rotorua

From Portland, I headed to New Zealand. Having never been to New Zealand before, I was keen to pack as much sight-seeing int the the short time I had before visiting my next hospital. So, I headed to Rotorua, which is a tourist mecca. It’s most famous for its thermal pools, which did not disappoint! Thermal Pool3¬†Thermal Pool2

Here I was also convinced to go along to a “traditional Maori dinner”. It was totally geared towards tourists but also very fun. We had a presentation which included songs and a haka and then had Haangi. Haangi is a Maori way of preparing food for special occasions and uses a heated pit for heat. We were well fed!

Mitai2 Mitai Haangi

Another wee tourism pitstop I made was up to the Bay of Island. It was glorious and I even caught my supper¬†(the scallops I’m holding in the bottom picture).
Quite different to dry suit diving on Scotland’s east coast…!

Bay of IslandsDiving for Scallops 3

Australia – Portland

After Tasmania, I spent some time visiting family in mainland Australia, including the Gold coast, which was kangaroos galore. Check out the joey!

Kangaroo with joey popping out
I then headed to Portland, Victoria. Portland was the first place Europeans settled in Victoria.

They have some special residents: two albino kangaroos! Here is one of them and an emu:

Albino Kangaroo










I particularly enjoyed the sections of The Great South West Walk that ran through Portland. It’s a 250km long bushwalking trail, which is immaculately maintained and has lots of little offshoots with lovely outlooks.

PortlandCove Portland

Whilst in Portland, I was able to observe many of the healthcare services that are provided there, and hear about the challenges they have being some distance from the nearest large hospital. Portland does have a hospital of its own, complete with operating theatre and maternity services but it is some distance by road for transferring patients in emergencies. As with everywhere else I’ve visited, the emergency transfer of the critically ill patient is constantly analysed and discussed.

One of the interesting things about my visit to Portland was visiting the local Aboriginal Corporation, which runs a free drop-in GP service. It’s not (usually) free to have an appointment with a GP here in Australia. While an appointment with most of the GPs (and all of the ones I’ve visited) is very affordable, the cost is seen as a barrier to lower income populations accessing healthcare. We are lucky in the UK to have free access to healthcare but it’s very interesting to see how other countries manage their populations’ access to services.