Dr Scott and the Derby Clinic
I am fortunate enough to be entrusted with the operation of our satellite clinic in Derby WA, 220 kms from Broome, for 2 days a week. What a town!!! With a population of only 4000 people, it’s the kind of place where nobody is in a hurry and everyone has time for a chat. There’s a real sense of community there as well. Not reliant on tourism, it doesn’t have the seasonal population that Broome does, and so the town works hard to provide a social fabric that knits everyone together – and in my estimation, they succeed beautifully. I would have to say that my Derby clientele is the best a veterinarian could ask for. They truly value their pets, they appreciate the service that a vet provides, and they are amongst the most down to earth, practical, and considerate folks I have ever come across. And so what many would see as an onerous weekly chore, I see as a breath of fresh air that gets me out of Broome for a bit and gives me a chance to see the gradual changes in the seasons, with the added bonus of serving some of the best people in the Kimberley.
Derby-ites consider themselves to be in the “true Kimberley” and Broome to be part of the Pilbara. And it’s true – you don’t see a boab tree until you’re halfway to Derby, and then they’re everywhere – squat, bulbous, ancient looking trunks, pitted and scarred with age and weather with shapely branches and beautiful green leaves that drop in the dry and magically come to life again in the wet. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of the stretch of road between Broome and Derby, although not without its charms, it is relatively straight, flat, and featureless. There is of course the big gray bull near Colourstone, and the two slight curves in the road, and most important of all, the mighty Fitzroy river.
There’s also the abattoir that has been in the same stage of construction for the past 3 years, and of course tombstone flats, a vast expanse of open grassland dotted with hundreds of termite mounds. I usually pass the bus coming from Derby around here and trade the obligatory wave with Chris Kloss, the driver. Being a nice early drive, there is usually plenty of wildlife on the road as well – wallabies, kangaroos, dingoes, goannas, frill-neck lizards and a myriad of bird species are common. So too are cattle – they are everywhere on this drive and obviously important to avoid. Many a time have I seen the sad story written in skid marks on the bitumen; black streaks leading up to a disabled vehicle with the front end smashed in, with a dead bloating cow 20 meters in front of it.
Fortunately I usually have company on the drive – Helen Mooney, our top nurse/practice manager/general fixer-of-all-things has been doing this run with me for four years now. Derby is the kind of town where you get to know pretty much everyone who comes through the door. . Which isn’t necessary true for the vet – a lot can happen in a week, and it’s not unusual to have a queue of people and animals waiting to see me when we arrive. It’s usually non-stop consults and routine surgeries all day Wednesday. The highlight – dinner at Jila Gallery and Café with friends every Wednesday night! And quite possibly a glass of wine or two…and then Thursday sees us back to Broome after a few hours of consults in the morning. The drive can be a bit monotonous, but if you pay attention, every week is different. We’re lucky to live in the Kimberley, and driving through it every week reminds me of that fact!