We’re thrilled to welcome Meredith Appleyard back to Love is the Best Medicine today! Meredith will be joining us again on Friday with an excerpt from her latest book No Job for a Girl.
The setting for my latest book No Job for a Girl (Penguin Random House Australia, March 2017), is the South Australian outback, in all its stark and fragile beauty. A timeless land, reminiscent of a moonscape. And if you look closely, home to a variety of extraordinary flora and fauna.
A memory that will stay with me forever is waking to my first outback sunrise. Travelling by Greyhound bus to Coober Pedy to take up a job as a freshly minted registered nurse, I woke from an uncomfortable doze, opened my eyes and was awestruck. Above the dark and endless nothingness the horizon glowed like molten gold; the night sky softened to a wash of gold-tinted hues of pink and blue. It was beyond beautiful.
For me, the outback has never lost its appeal. Even when the daytime temperatures hit 50ºC plus, and birds drop from the sky, I can’t help but be amazed that anything survives at all. It’s a landscape full of wonder, a landscape that demands respect.
It takes a special kind of person to work in these extremes, so far from the supports and comforts of home. The challenges, both personal and professional, are huge, and the rewards well earned. Among the most memorable of my work experiences are the times I spent working in remote areas – the opal fields of Coober Pedy, remote communities in the Northern Territory and Queensland, and the oil and gas fields of the Cooper Basin.
Nursing in these places taught me to be independent and resourceful. I loved the autonomy and the challenge to be self-sufficient. What a cast of characters I worked with, laughed with, and shared my hopes and dreams!
It’s no surprise then that my latest book is set in the outback, in a construction fly camp. And that the main character, nurse and safety advisor Leah Jackson, relies on her skills, common sense, and a well-stocked RFDS medical chest to make a success of what they said was no job for a girl.