Central Australia Trip report #3

I’ve been so busy lately with placement – either working (9-5, whew!) or relaxing. today marks halfway – already!

So here’s the latest instalment of the trip report, thanks to the bus’ free trip wifi.

Day 3

After arriving late in Wilpena Pound the night before, we took it easy the next morning.

Including waking up late enough for breakfast to be lunch…

Two pots on the camper stove - one pot is full of mince etc.

We took a look around, including at the Wilpena Pound Visitor Centre. The Flinders Ranges has some great scenery to explore on foot or by four-wheel-drive. It’s worth a whole trip of its own. Next time maybe.

And off we went again.

We saw plenty of scenery…

And were momentarily delayed when we came across a local lizard who didn’t want to move out of our way. (We interrupted his sunbaking, I think.)

I’m not sure if he was a stumpy-tailed lizard or bone-headed one. I’ll need to compare images.

Another nice sunset finished the day.

Last rays of sun over horizon

After a long day of driving, we found ourselves at a campsite on an old homestead that used to be a railway town.


Central Australia Trip report #2

Day 2

Our cabin was on the edge of the Murray River. We woke up, had breakfast, then went on our way. We were ambitiously aiming for Wilpena Pound in the Flinders Ranges – and there was plenty to see along the way.


And some local birdlife. I found out from the “bird book” later that this was not an unusually large moorhen but a native swamp-hen instead.

Swamp hen on river bank as sun begins to rise behind trees on far bankSomeone holding the book "Field Guide to Australian Birds" by Michael Morcombe - front cover shown

We got some delicious fruit at a roadside stop near the town of Morgan, close to the turnoff to Monash.

Sign by the side of the road saying "Fruit Stall: Fresh Seasonal Local Produce". Parked car casts a shadow on dry ground beside it.

The latter town name caused some discussion, as we wondered if the namesake was Sir John Monash or not. Apparently, it is!

Roadside direction signs at a turn-off, with a car shadow at the bottom of frame and blue sky at the top.

There were also plenty of fruit trees in the area…

Rows of fruit trees

We stopped after crossing the river (at least, I think so?).

Two cars - 1 4WD and one large other - are parked in the shade of a tree. Womble sits under the bullbar of the 4WD

We looked at it and the flood marker. In September 1956, floodwaters peaked at 11.3 metres above sea level! Wow.

The other interesting object near the river was an old building which apparently was once the town morgue. According to the plaque I read, a man who helped build it – and speculated about who would be the first to be laid out there – was the first to be laid out there.

Morgue building - sandstone - in background, in front of the river. Before it is sandy ground with a tree overhanging

They’d got a mock person laid out inside, which gave Womble and I a bit of a shock when we looked through the grille.

We drove on, seeing our first examples of “old man saltbush”, a native species of hardy plant that became quite common as we drove further into the outback.

Old man saltbush - a field of greenish silver plant

We then stopped for a look at an old mine that had been turned into a lake.

The rusted barrier between the road and mine fence is in the foreground. The old mine has water in it and rocky "cliffs"

And, moving on, saw our first (of many) old rail bridges.

Green grass leads to a

Central Australia Trip “report” #1

Here’s the first of the posts I promised about the trip. These are all scheduled and will be dropped over the next few weeks – except this one, finished hastily thanks to trip-free-wifi on the way to placement/work.

Day 1

We set off late in the day after packing the two cars and camper trailer. Meals had been precooked and were stored along with other food items in our new portable freezer, bought especially for the trip. We were aiming to get to Mildura – a good five hours from our starting point. We settled in – four in one car, two in another.

After Mildura, we went on to Renmark – across the South Australian border – to a cabin for the night.

Pics from the day:

The camper-trailer, with tent strapped down on top. WOmble is sitting on the toolbox at the front of the trailer and it's sunny.

The sun shines on both the cars (silver-green Nissan Pathfinder towing the camper-trailer, with maroon Nimbus Mitsubishi in the background of the picture. We're in a carpark and it's sunny.

These two cars and the camper-trailer carried everything for the trip. Womble enjoyed the sun in the first shot.

Tree with no leaves is in silhouette against the sky thanks to the setting sun, visible only as a pale orange strip at the skyline - the rest of the sky is deepening blue

First sunset of the trip!


Statue of a famous man in a rural Victorian town - it's bronze and he's doffing his hat with a riding crop in hand. There's a plaque at his feet explaining who he is and he's surrounded by a wrought-iron fence.

Some famous guy in some rural town…. can’t remember who or where.

Picture taken out a car window - you can see the car mirror outside - of a stop sign.

Picture taken out a car window of a stop sign and warning

Border station – please declare and dispose of all fruit (and some other products).

Taken looking out the car windscreen - the Pathfinder and camper-trailer are lit up by streetlights and approach an arch over the road that signals the South Australian borer

Approaching the South Australian border

Shot of the Pathfinder and camper-trailer, with the car's new floodlights on.

Don’t the floodlights look cool?

Day 2 and 3 will follow soon.

#MIV2018 Update: Registration is OPEN! 

I’m so excited right now. If you’re interested, follow the links below from the email I received overnight. I’ll be doing that tonight after placement. It’s going to be a blast. Come along!


From the Convenors’ desk…

Hi groovers,

Exciting things are happening in Melbourne. At our AGM a few weeks ago we welcomed Cameron, Gemma and Justina to the committee and we’re glad to have them on board.

And now, for the news you’ve all been waiting for. We are so incredibly excited to announce that registrations for MIV 2018 are officially open!

Register now for the festival and secure your place in the Summer of 69.
We can’t wait to see you – there’s only 6 months to go!

Peace and love,
Alex and El xoxo

Life Update, number whatever…. :)


So I’ve survived my first two days of placement. It’s going well, I think… the plan appears to be to get me out on at least one home visit per day. Today there were two. So I am zonked. Because there’s a lot of write-up to do afterwards, especially if both home visits are with new clients rather than follow-up ones.

It’s rather intense. But fun. I admit, I was a little uncertain of how things would go when I started yesterday. When we’d done class- and assignment-based activities at uni that relate to what I’m doing on placement, it felt kinda boring? Soooo many measurements and so on. (Seriously, one of the things that saved me during the environmental modification assignment was that we could be creative with our query letters….) But out in the field, it’s actually quite fun, or at least interesting. After all, we’re helping real people and hearing their stories.

I got praised today for my clinical reasoning skills, so I must be doing something right!

I get very tired by the end of the day though. All I want to do is go home and “flop”. Well, I did think about and plan to go to fencing tonight, but only remembered at home that I don’t have my runners with me at the moment. Next week!

Now, I should get to what I’ve thought about doing since I got home… writing up posts about my trip, as well as food posts. Then I can get an early night after that.

Check back in later this week, hopefully tomorrow – there is one hell of a good #MIV2018 Update coming. (Six months to go!!!)


Gone Fishin’

Well, camping ⛺️. 

I’m off tomorrow on a roadtrip with family to Central Australia. We’ll be gone a few days. I fly back from Uluru Friday next, returning just in time for placement. 

I’d say “follow along”, but it’s likely that there’ll be very little internet on the trip. I’m going to use it as a well-earned break! 

I’ll be taking plenty of photos which I’ll post in the days after I come back. So you can view them then! First up, here’s an intro to the subject of the photos (with my scarf, hat and bags): Womble Bear. I’ve had him since I was little and he’s going to be my travel bear 🐻 for the trip. 

See you on the other side! 

Life Admin….

Today I finished my mental health subject. I’m pretty pleased with my efforts. It was an intense subject, but so worth it. I’ve learnt so much.

I’ve got placement coming up in a few weeks and will spend tomorrow doing some work for that – thinking about learning objectives and so forth. I’m thinking they’ll be about the client base, assessments and interventions, communication skills and self-management.

I’m spending this evening doing a bit of work on life admin tasks.

I was reflecting yesterday, I really like where I live. We’ve got a little community here and it’s great. We share food sometimes and look out for each other. Some of the community have just left as they were only here for six or so months. Others will arrive in mid-July. But until then, us year-long stayers will continue. I’m lucky.

Have you tried out the Harry Potter celebration thing on Facebook yet, if you’re a Harry Potter fan? 20 years ago today, Philosopher’s Stone was released. (And this September 1st will be 19-Years-Later in-universe, the date of the Epilogue.)

Life is good for me right now. How’s yours?



Activity Scheduling and Stress Buckets

I’ve been busy lately. My current uni subject is coming to an end, and I’m also preparing for placement. I’m also balancing extra-curricular projects like MIV and LaTUCS. Not to mention going back to my hometown for work and finding time to actually relax, to spend time with my friends or boyfriend or just do personal projects for myself.

My OT course is helping, by giving me tools to explain how I feel/do things (we call these explanatory models), even as it’s stressful at times. There are life lessons I’m learning.

Like, remember to set realistic plans for the day. I might want to get something done in one day, but realistically it might take one and a half days study, or two. Case in point: last week’s assignment was more challenging to wrap my head around than I realised – giving myself a strict time pressure/deadline wasn’t helpful. I ended up feeling quite stressed. But I used my resources – I emailed my subject coordinator, knowing from past experience she’d know what to say to put my study into perspective. As well, my boyfriend came over for dinner, before we went out to a choir workshop we’d been invited to (that was the deadline). Talking things through with and being close to him really helped. It’s the little things.

I need to remember that as an overachiever (remember the impostor syndrome realisation?), given that humans have an inbuilt “negativity bias”, I’m going to be harsher on myself for not getting x, y, or z done in the time I like – even if overall I’m still travelling well. Case in point: this week’s study for the exam. I had wanted to get “this much” done yesterday, but was hampered by a bit of a slow start and felt pressured. I couldn’t seem to get going as much as I liked to, until late in the afternoon. I did manage to feel happy with the day’s work, in part because when I got into the groove I let myself go an extra hour because things were flowing, instead of stopping work at 17:00. Later that evening after chatting over Facebook with a few fellow students, I realised that my version of “not enough done today” was quite possibly different to theirs (we’ll see – we’re catching up after class today to study together).

In occupational therapy, we’ve learnt about several different models and ways of improving a person’s occupational performance and mental health. Some of these are commonsense approaches that OTs or other professionals have put a name to, or formalised.

Like the concept of Activity Scheduling, where you schedule your day so that important things get done as well as fun things. I use Google Calendar for this and have been doing so since high school. I didn’t know there was a name for it until recently though! Activity scheduling (called a “time grid” in the third principle of this article, which talks about other related stuff) can be used in a general organisational context (as just noted) or a more specific therapeutic context. For example, if someone is depressed, scheduling activities can help get things done. This is of course done in a graded manner – i.e. start off with one little thing, then build it up. More information can be found about it here. If you’re interested in it for that regard, talk about it with a trusted health professional.

Another concept is the model called, “Stress-Vulnerability Model”, first developed by Zubin and Spring (1977). It’s a model that uses symbols of a bucket/tank, rocks/etc., water and holes/taps to explain how each person has individual stress levels that are influenced by different factors – vulnerabilities, stressors and protective ones. People with more vulnerabilities generally have smaller “stress buckets”, because their vulnerabilities fill up the bucket first. When a person can’t manage their stressors, or doesn’t have enough protective resources, their stress bucket will overflow. That overflowing can mean different things for different people, but generally results in some sort of crisis – whether that be a relapse or increase in illness severity, or “just” an emotional outburst of tears or anger. Learning what one’s vulnerabilities, stressors and protective factors are can be useful, as a person can then learn how to manage those factors.

A visual description of the Stress-Vulnerability Model is below. For more information, see here (original model publication, rather wordy) and here (simpler explanation).

Very rough visual representation of the stress-vulnerability model. Stressors shown as raincloud over tank, protective factors are a tap on the tank, vulnerabilities are rocks in tank. Level of water in tank indicates level of stress.

Stress-Vulnerability link http://www.mhpod.gov.au/assets/sample_topics/combined/Risk_and_protective_factors/risk_objective_2/index.html

Meditation exercise link – smiling mind app https://smilingmind.com.au/

MIV2018 Fundraising


Hi all.

Life’s been busy lately, as I alluded to last week.

Here’s another MIV update – a particularly focused one.

To recap what I’ve said before: intervarsity festivals bring together choristers from universities across the country for ten intense days of singing and socialising with a major concert at the end. My first festival, last year’s CIV2016, was one of the best experiences of my life and I made an amazing group of friends that just keeps getting bigger. Within the IV movement, I found my tribe. And I really want to help like-minded people find theirs. The IV movement is like one big family – we all have our little differences, which balance and complement each other. Within our IV family, people are free to be themselves. Sounds like a cliche, but I really believe it.

Atm, MIV2018 are launching a fundraising campaign. We have an ambitious target of $20,000, to achieve in four weeks. So tonight we have a Thunderclap to boost our notice. Want to support us in that? It’s suuuuper easy. Just click on this link, choose whether to support it with Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr or a combination, click support and done! It’ll post on your behalf at 18:00 AEST.

We also have a fundraising page over on Chuffed. Feel free to support us in that regard if you wish as well – there are perks which are outlined below. 🙂 If you don’t want to or can’t, no worries – but do you think you could pass the chuffed link on? That’d be fantastic. If you want more information about the IV movement in general or MIV2018 in particular, check out aicsa.org.au and miv.org.au respectively. Registrations for MIV2018 open soon – sign up to the mailing list if you’re interested!

I can’t wait until the festival. It’s going to be great! For another example of what IVs mean for people, read on below about my friend and fellow organiser, Alex.

Alex graduation.jpg
Meet Alex.
She’s been singing with MonUCS, her local university choir, for 11 years now. Alex joined MonUCS on her first day of university, and it changed her life for the better. Singing in a choir gave her confidence and a sense of achievement. When Alex heard about the Intervarsity Choral movement she felt a little shy but decided she wanted to attend a Festival, and her life changed forever. Alex has friends all over the country, an opportunity to travel, to sing, learn and spend time with passionate, like-minded individuals. Alex is a high school teacher now and shares her love of singing with her students.
To help other people like Alex discover the IV movement and find their voice, the Melbourne Intervarsity Choral Festival is planning to perform an ambitious concert in Melbourne Town Hall. The concert will offer the people of Melbourne a musical experience never heard before in Australia and will provide singers from universities around the country, Melbourne high schools and the wider community a chance to be a part of a groundbreaking, history-making performance. We’re passionate about our project, but we need your help.
Our goal is to raise a total of $20,000, and your help is invaluable! 
Our campaign starts now, and we’re offering the following perks to donors:
1. donate over $15 to receive a personal thank you in our concert program,
2. donate over $50 to receive everything in level 1 PLUS an exclusive MIV2018 tie-dyed tote bag,
3. donate over $100 to receive everything in level 2 PLUS the official MIV2018 live music CD,
4. donate over $250 to receive everything in level 3 PLUS an exclusive MIV goody bag.
5. donate  over $500 to receive everything in level 4 PLUS access to 2 of our VIP Concert Tickets for regular ticket price (Melbourne Town Hall has unallocated seating, so these are the ONLY tickets that guarantee you access to prime seating in the stalls),
6. donate over $1000 to receive everything in level 5 PLUS 2 free VIP tickets, PLUS a program signed by our musical director and soloists.
The two highest donations received will get a personal meet & greet with our soloists, musical director, and festival convenors after the performance.