Contributed by Jerry, PhD in Social Work
I always want to try something different and gain a variety of experiences while I am studying. For my final year social work placement, I chose to undertake a rural one in a hospital in government setting. Fortunately, there was a place available for me as a social work student from the Charleville Hospital in southwest Queensland. I barely had any knowledge with the outback Australia. I just knew that the rural placement might help me learn tremendously as an emerging practitioner and offer me a different perspective on Australia’s bush life.
When recalling these memories, I guess it was very bold for me to travel to Charleville without knowing anyone and knowing anything about this rural town. This made me feel like taking an adventure into an unknown place. It took fifteen hours travel by train from Roma Street, Brisbane to Charleville and this cost around 120 bucks one way for a sleeping berth. At the very first few days in Charleville, I found the water was quite different from Brisbane and smells very bad, which was due to the bore water. After a few days I adapted to this new environment.
During the first weekend, I was very lucky to be asked to join a road trip with my new buddies from the Nurses Quarter (which was the accommodation offered by Queensland Health for visiting health professionals and students doing placement). I got the chance to travel from Charleville to Quilpie, then to Cunnamulla and back to Charleville (photos below).
This was the photo taken in Quilpie with my new Aussie friend. Because the major industry in this town is grazing, we can see cow statues like this along the street. Also, Quilpie is a town that is famous for its Boulder opal. I wasn’t lucky enough to find one opal from the mine.
These would be hardly seen in urban areas unless there’s some sort of festival carnival. But it is very common in the farms and on the road.
This is the tiny Toompine town that only has a population of 2 and these two people run this small hotel for travellers. I had lunch at this hotel and it was very nice food with friendly people.
This is the Cunnamulla fella, which is the iconic statue in this town and featuring the spirit of the outback farm and grazing life. Cunnamulla in Aboriginal language is long stretch of the water. It is 206 kilometres, south of Charleville.
This seems to be the longest bra chain hanging in the Wyandra’s main street, which has created a sight for this small town between Charleville and Cunnamulla with a population of 60 people. This aims to raise money and awareness for the breast cancer.
Finally, see what I spotted. The road we just travelled is part of the Australia’s longest road from Charleville to Mt Isa.
It almost took me a whole day from 7 am early in the morning and we were back around 8 pm at night. It was worthwhile seeing these stunning scenery along the road and wild animals accompanied us all along the trip.
The outback was just like what people said about Australia that kangaroos are everywhere on the road. It was actually true that there were so many kangaroos around my accommodation and along the way, especially early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Even I felt that I saw more kangaroos, emus and rabbits than human beings over there. My placement was wrapped up as a very successful learning experience and well equipped me into my future journey. I would reckon that if you have a chance, you must have a taste of the outback experiences while studying in Australia.