After more than 12 months of careful planning and mounting excitement, Phillip Robinson and wife Marie were last month finally able to join the ranks of the grey nomads … and then it all went wrong!
Just days after leaving their home in Bunbury, Western Australia, Phillip was in hospital in the worst pain of his life, unable to walk and barely able to stand. The travel plans the couple had so lovingly prepared were in tatters.
And all because of one tiny break in the skin.
None of the drama that lay ahead seemed remotely possible when the Robinsons arrived at Yardie Creek on the Ningaloo Coast in their Pajero towing a Zone Z16-6 OffRoader. Travelling with their in-laws, Frank and Shirley, the group were in ‘Big Lap heaven’ as they swam and snorkelled at Turquoise Bay.
But it was all downhill from there.
“The next day the heel on my right foot started to dry out and a crack appeared on the back of my heel,” said Phillip. “My heel started to really ache, but we thought nothing of it.”
Three days later though when he arrived at the Miaree Pool free camping area near Karratha, Phillip could no longer ignore the issue.
“By the time we set up, I had to sit down as I felt washed out and feverish,” said Phillip. “In the course of two days, my leg had swollen up and gone red to half way to my knee.”
Phillip was admitted to Karratha Hospital with cellulitis, a condition apparently very common in the tropics.
“I was in hospital nine days in the worst pain of my entire life to the point where some of the painkillers I was on were whoopsie pills so I was whacked out of my scone half the time,” said Phillip. “Even when I was discharged, I was still in no condition to travel.”
Luckily, the Robinsons had friends in Port Hedland where they stayed for the three weeks it took Phillip to feel well enough to hit the road again.
And the future?
“I must admit my enthusiasm for the trip waned at the height of my illness when we were threatened with returning home,” admits Phillip. “But now we are looking forward to getting back on track.”
Indeed, the party has just completed a trip up to Cape Leveque north of Broome and they are now hoping to do the Gibb River Road and then take the Savannah Way all the way across to Cairns.
“My Achilles’ tendon and the ligament on the front lower leg are still aching and very stiff, though a tiny bit better each day,” said Phillip. “But I implore grey nomads who get any break in their skin, regardless of how small, to treat it immediately with antiseptic, bandaid or whatever.”