‘Sick souvenirs: The medical mishaps that occurred while I was on holiday’

Nov 24, 2019
Julie couldn't go travelling without catching the travel bug. Source: Getty Images

You might call this an anti-travel blog, or reasons why I am a couch potato who has no plans for travel. I must say I have experienced some trips, usually by car, to diverse regions of Australia. My tour guide is really a litany of germs, the travel bug(s) I caught.

Even when I was young, my mum and dad would take us on car drives to bushy realms in rustic Victoria. I was always the one who got a bee sting (very allergic), or massive sunburn. Then we would drive off to a chemist, if any were open.

Later, after holy nuptials, my new husband and I drove through South Australia, in the middle of summer, to the beauty spots of Perth and Albany in Western Australia. On New Year’s Day, overlooking a splendid bay, I was sitting in a GP’s waiting room, with a temperature and tonsillitis. So far from home! Being allergic to penicillin, I was prescribed antibiotics, so we headed off through the holiday town, desperately seeking a pharmacy. The travel bug(s) had got me, or had I caught them?

A couple of months later, we drove off to Canberra, aka Death Valley for public servants, to spend Easter with some friends who had migrated there from Melbourne. Lovely, crisp autumn days of golden sunshine. By Easter Saturday afternoon, we were touring doctors’ surgeries, all closed for Easter.

We found a public hospital waiting room, where I again sat for hours. A courteous Indian doctor with not much English diagnosed me with laryngitis and an ear infection, all quite normal for me. Then there was the futile quest to locate a pharmacist to fill the scripts. All the chemists had closed for Easter, and had travelled to Melbourne or Sydney, anywhere, for Easter.

Unfulfilled, we drove home on Easter Monday, again searching for a pharmacist. The travel bug(s) had got me once more.

The years rolled by, I travelled to camp in a town in Victoria’s Western District, called Koroit. You guessed it, by now, at locating GP’s on holiday, I was by now very adroit. There I sat, waiting for hours for a GP somewhere in the bush. Yes, again, the chemist had closed for the Christmas season, and gone to Melbourne for the holidays. Or anywhere. Great, mates. We drove some distance to the seaside township of Warrnambool. Success! Pharmacist open! Yes.

Next trip, for a change, the travel bug gave me cystitis, in a caravan, in the bush. More travel bugs, it was only half a mile to the ablutions block, traipsing through the night to the loo. The doctor and chemist were closed for the holiday so off to another town again to find a chemist. Thank goodness for Pharmore!

In contrast, not, I camped in a cabin in the Wimmera region in Victoria one summer, over the New Year period. Yes, the travel bug(s) got me, had cystitis again. No! Absolutely, doctor’s surgery was closed for Christmas, pharmacists off to Melbourne for a holiday, or anywhere. We drove through wheat fields and rolling paddocks dotted with fluffy sheep, to find … Pharmore!

These days, I do fantasise about a solo senior’s trip to a beautiful holiday destination, such as swimming with and feeding the ever-smiling dolphins at Monkey Mia, over there in WA. I priced the tour, but I am very hesitant. Would the travel bug(s) catch me again? More than likely.

Still, it looks idyllic. But so does my own bed. So I sink tonight, ever smiling, into my comfortable bed, with a cuppa, somewhere in middle suburbia. The travel bug(s) I caught … a litany of germs.

Happy holidays, happy campers! Yeah, well, where is the pharmacist store, and where did they travel on holidays? Stat!

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Have you fallen ill while travelling and required medical treatment? Did you have trouble finding a doctor of pharmacist?

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