Were you a fan of 1980s Australian medical drama-rama, The Flying Doctors? To be honest, I wasn’t really, but it was probably where I first learned about Australia’s flying doctor service and – as one of the things to do in Alice – wanted to see the visitor’s centre, which – refreshingly – makes no mention of the TV Show!

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The centre is in a row of low buildings, most of the others are outbuildings for the nearby hospital (which makes sense).  The receptionist greeted me warmly – the place was near to empty, just a small tour group from America finishing up their visit as I arrived.

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The centre has a series of small rooms laid out with memorabilia from the archives of the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Reverend John Flynn.

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They are interspersed with models of the early aircraft used to reach Australia’s burgeoning Outback and remote populations.

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On the right, you can see a graphic of a human body, split in the diagram into sections to allow a local nurse (or non-medical person in many cases) communicating over the telephone or by telegraph with a doctor, to describe and locate symptoms or problems.

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The original medical supplies used by flying doctors were on display. I imagine this would be very interesting to anyone with medical training.

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The centre made extensive (I mean, extensive) use of these ‘holograms’ which were projections on to a human-shaped piece of upright metal or plastic.

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The shop was hugely impressive as it took up more floor space than the entire exhibition!

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Of course, there is a replica plane right in the middle of the building and that is most impressive of all!

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At the top of each hour, the main attraction is a hologram of the founder, introducing a documentary on the history of the service.  I was the only person there. Even the lady working in the shop nearly had a heart attack when she saw me wandering around as she’d thought I was with the American tour!

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The documentary was very good, but you have to ask what a hologram adds to it. Really nothing at all.  I can only imagine there was a grant given to the hologram studio and it needed to be used up for a not-for-profit organisation.

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The hat was out and on!

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Do I look like I’m about to fly off?

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Okay, maybe not.

Only about then did I realise the plane was kitted out and you could climb into it!

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It’s a tight space but can take 4 ill passengers and 2 ‘ambulant’ passengers (still walking).

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This is a visit well worth going to. It’s easy to be dismissive (of holograms), but this service is really the inspiration for other services like this around the world.  A little later in my trip, in Kakadu, a man sitting in front of me had a TIA or mild stroke and a helicopter from the Flying Doctors came for him from Darwin out into the monsoonal plains 4.5 hours away.  More of that in an upcoming post…

Makes you think…

 

 

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