Riot & the 40th Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

Last Friday we flew to Sydney after work.  Saturday we stood, with our friends on Oxford St in Sydney, and watched the 40th Mardi Gras parade pass by.  We balanced on tiny blue plastic chairs that we’d bought off a hawker at A$10 a piece.  I shared Dan and Julian’s, my toes going numb from the pressure ischaemia.  Tonight Dion came over for dinner and, after catching the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race Allstars Season 3, we watched the feature film, Riot.  I thought I’d choked up last week when the bus of 78ers drove past.  Tonight we saw what they’d been up against.  I had experienced police intimidation during Medical School (making me think twice about ever treating a policeman once I graduated) but it was nothing compared to 1970s New South Wales police.  40 years on I was able to comfortably stand hand-in-hand with my husband, and cheer a thank-you to the bus of 78ers.  Then the drunk person behind us fell over again, pulling Daniel down with him.  Not going back next year.  Too crowded.




Hirafu 2018

I can’t believe that I’m actually on holiday.  Contrary to the beliefs of family, friends and colleagues, I infrequently travel for the sole purpose of a vacation; I usually tack an extra day or two onto a business trip to sight-see.  This week we have flown to Japan for a vacation. No work.  No conference.  I spent Friday until Monday not even thinking about work.  Then the school-year must’ve started back home and everybody else went back to work and work emails began to ping on my phone, thanks to the wifi dongle in my thigh pocket, as we sat down in the Big King Hut 2/3 up the mountain.

AM vs. PM #Ski #hokkaido #japan #gaycation

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Thursday 25 January 2018

We caught the overnight Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong, CX170.  We had only booked Premium Economy, because business wasn’t on sale and we hadn’t accumulated sufficient Asia Miles to get a reward seat.  It was difficult sleeping sitting up; I don’t know how I used to do it.  We arrived in Hong Kong sleep-deprived and sore.  Rob had flown in business and looked pleased.  Well, he might have looked pleased. It was difficult to see his face from our position far back in the queue.  Dan tried to get into the Cathay lounge with Rob as a guest but Rob didn’t have any airline status.  I walked around in search of noodles.

Dan tried to go to the lounge with rob but he wasn’t allowed guests.

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Friday 26 January 2018

As Australia celebrated Invasion Day we continued to Sapporo, then on a 3-hour bus to Hokkaido.  The flight landed late and the queue through customs took about 45 minutes; the snow had delayed several flights that day and although efficient it was slow.  Other skiers worried that they’d miss their 16:30 bus to Hokkaido (we were all booked on the same buses, we were all late, so what a surprise the buses all left an hour late) breathed down our necks in queue for immigration, baggage and customs.  Rob had booked a different bus to us but we all departed about the same time.  It was snowing.

Hello #snow ! #japan #sapporo

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Saturday 27 January 2018

We collected our rental skis, lift passes, and did a few green runs.  Although it’s been two years our many lessons in Toronto gave us memories to recognise our technique flaws and how to correct them.  Mostly: more weight on the downhill leg. No, more weight.

#snow #gaycation #intergaycial #skitrip #japan #instagay #wearetravelgays

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As usual Dan pointed his skis straight down hill and reached the base of the lift  in 5.3 sec.  Two days later I’d cut so inelegant zig-zags of mostly horizontal but beautifully parallel lines and, thighs cramping from the sustained contraction, caught up.

#hokkaido #japan #ski #skitrip #gayski #gaycation #intergaycial

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In the afternoon Dan and I took a lesson.  I’d like to say our instructor’s name was Katya, but it wasn’t. It began with a K.  We were guided through some trees where the powder was knee-deep and so much fun.  I shrieked with delight.

The two hours seemed to last all afternoon and by the end I was exhausted and eager to go to the onsen.

Yaaaaaaaas #snow #gaycation #hokkaido #japan #powder #gayski

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Sunday 28 January 2018

We skied some more.  We went to the onsen.  We ate.

Monday 29 January 2018

The morning was sunny, with some blue sky finally peeking out behind the clouds.  Dan and I worked our way around the mountain to the Niseko Village side and stopped for coffee and cake at the Hilton.  When we left the snow had begun again and visibility was poor.  After lunch we joined Rob for a few runs, accidentally going down a short black.  I was chagrined when my breath fogged up my goggles and the fog froze on the inside of my goggles when I tried to wipe it off.  So I skied down the black without my goggles on.  Dan waited patiently for me several times and my body shook with fear when I saw how steep the slope was, thinking about how easily my tibiae would snap and all the tendons in my knees would avulse if the skis got caught when I tried to turn if I gathered too much speed. I fell uphill halfway down from leaning back, and got my skies wedged in an X-shape.  I had to remove one, and Rob had to hold it so I could clip it back on, before he skied down. On the verge of tears with frustration at the unhelpful thoughts inside my head, I eventually skied down by chanting, “Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it.”

AM vs. PM #Ski #hokkaido #japan #gaycation

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London 2017 jet lag insomnia

Lucky I came into the AirBnB’s lounge room to type.  I’ve started a consecutive sneeze-a-thon without warning but, thankfully, minimally productive.  Just loud.  Had I gone back to bed already and woken Dan with my sneezing I’d be questioned in the morning why I didn’t just hold my breath, like last week when I possibly woke up our visitors: Simon and Julian, when I sneezed loudly when Dan had got up to pee.  Sneezing alerts the cat that we’re “awake” and instigated loud ‘feed me” “Meowing”. It was a nocturnal comedy of errors.

Tonight’s delirium display began early after dark: I think the sun set at around 16:30, the middle of the afternoon. Walking through the streets of Clapham at dusk, I realised that I might not like a working holiday year or two in London, lured by the proximity to Europe and ease to take mini breaks in days off and knock of 25 European cities in a year.  I’d have to face the daily drudgery of the cold and wet and grey and try to resist being a miserable git.  We went to bed a bit after 8 pm.  I wanted to ensure a good night’s sleep.  Last night we both woke up about 5 times, to pee. But, we were so exhausted from the flights around the world that we quickly crashed and passed out again.  Tonight, I woke up at midnight and, “Bam!” My body reminded me that it is already 08:00 in Australia and I may consider myself, awake.

Noooooooo!!  I had taken 5 mg of zolpidem right before bed.  It should have knocked me out for at least 5 hours.  I woke up too soon.  Scenes from spaceship disaster movies, Alien, The Passengers… nothing good happens when you are pulled from cryosleep too soon.  I wasn’t going to get back to sleep now.  I’d already begun to think about Aliens, and that spider article on Facebook that suggests Australians are walked over by several spiders a year.  I might even have a spider walking on me right now! The woman living next door was having a lively conversation, which I could hear through the thin walls.

Sensibly, I got up, turned my phone on silent (no point scrolling through Facebook and Twitter feeds to accidentally start a sound effect that wakes up Daniel). I tip-toed to the kitchen and closed the door, which was stuck on a new shirt bought at Abercrombie and Fitch yesterday.  Better take the other half a tablet now, so in thirty minutes I’ll fall asleep again and at least get another 4 or 5 hours of sleep.  We had stayed up all afternoon but should’ve stayed up later in the evening.  I’ve already ruined my jet lag adjustment for the next day.

It might be the zolpidem but I felt suddenly peckish and decided that sliced cold tomato on hot buttered toast would be a brilliant solution.  As quietly as one can when also starting to nod with drowsiness, I plugged in the toaster, sliced up tomato and pulled the chopping board from under the frying pan – all with ninja quiet.  Until a knife fell out of the drying rack, having lost some supporting structure.  Dan burst out of the bedroom.  “What are you doing!?”  “Being QUIET!” obviously.  He was failing to account for the much louder noise I could be making and that the single loud crash was, by comparison, most definitely quiet.  I was in trouble, but the crime was mitigated by the noise of the woman talking next door, which was the more constant sound. Until the toaster popped.

I scraped the butter onto my toast, it crunched like footsteps on fresh snow.  I hope it snows tomorrow.



Thinking of You: 9 Hours To Go

I’m sitting alone at our dining table, the cat sitting on the table, her tail slowly whipping back and forth and staring at me in defiance of the “No Cats On The Table” rule.  It’s been an unusually warm November.  Our indoor plants are thriving, except for the one in the dark in the lounge room.  Dan is on a mini-break in some rainforest in Queensland.  I’ve been home alone as I was on call for one hospital last weekend and another this weekend.  I feel sick.  In 9 hours the Australian Bureau of Statistics will release the results of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.

It has been a unique experience to have spent the last few months hearing everybody’s opinion on something so personal as to whom I should be married to, including complete strangers that I will never meet but who have had a say on whether my marriage should be legal in my home country.  I thought I’d felt small an insignificant staring at the Milky Way at Uluru but this survey has also made me feel invisible. I thought I had developed sufficient resilience throughout High School, Med School and specialty training to endure the daily media and incessant unsolicited opinion-giving but it was not enough.  My friends and family and my husband are the reason I’m still here.  Tonight, when Dan and I started to receive “thing of you” well-wishes I realised I’d been holding my breath. I hope tomorrow I can rest.  It’s been exhausting.


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Karrke – Aboriginal Cultural Tour

We booked the one-hour local aboriginal cultural tour at 16:00. It was a circuit of 5 minute explanatory stations: how different seeds were collected, what colour ochres were used, displays of central Australian spears and boomerangs (different to the designs we were used to in Western Australia) and examples of bush tucker, which included live honey ants and witchety grubs. The sun was beginning to set and the wind was picking up into big, long gusts. Flies continued to buzz about and tickle my sideburns. Our guides, Christine and Peter, recited succinct interpretation scripts which were easy to follow, gave concise information and allowed for questions. If only other museums and cultural experiences we’d been to developed content which such precision toward the target markets!

Kings Canyon, Central Australia

This morning we woke before dawn.  I gritted my teeth and resolved to stop giving Daniel free reign to book all of our holiday activities, or at least more closely scrutinise the options presented to me for sign-off.  I had thought myself clever when I figured out Dan’s method of getting me to agree to a slightly expensive option – accommodation, flight, transfer, activity – by giving me three options: the first cheap but terrible, the second the slightly expensive but much better than the first and the third ridiculously expensive and out of our price range.  Of course I’d chose the second, middle ground option. It was the best of three!  I now have to add to the approval criteria: 1. Does it involve waking up before lunch time? 2. Does it involve snorkelling or any boat? 3. Do I need to wear shoes? 4. Why is there no alternative where I can sleep in, not put pants on and not get seasick?


We forced ourselves to eat some protein, low energy carbohydrate and omega 3 fatty acids while avoiding high energy carbohydrates as we’d not yet been physically active.  At the resort reception we met our tour guide and the bus driver, a full sized tour bus for just us two.  Nobody else had booked the full Kings Canyon Rim Walk.  It’s billed as a 3 to 4-hour Level 4 hike around the canyon rim, best started at dawn before the sun and heat closed the walk.  Our guide, Marcus, was literally joyous that he had two youngish fit-looking men to guide, instead of geriatric hip replaced women.  He bounded up the first hill, and we kept up, though I started to wheeze and wished I’d packed Ventolin.  We did the entire walk, completely with rest stops, short divertissements to see ancient fossils and a wild waleroo, in 2.5 hours.  We got back in time for me to log in to the free wifi and absolve myself of almost 24 hours cut off from the internet.  Nobody had noticed we’d been missing.  Nothing important had happened.



Priscilla’s Crack


Our guide spoke botanist and geologist jargon but translated to common names as well.  He explained the feature film, Priscilla Queen of the Desert (I think I was 16 when I took Dad to see it), had filmed on location and the V-shaped formation ahead was known as “Priscilla’s Crack”.  We took photos.   We saw three fossils, including one of the first land-life form from something like 450 million years, just exposed to the sun and rain and erosion of passing tourists.  Where the star and constellation descriptions had made me feel physically insignificant by the scale of stars in our galaxy alone numbering more than grains of sand on our planet the timescale of the canyon around us made me feel temporally insignificant: we were standing on the top of a 60 km thick centre of a tectonic plate that was sedimentary rock formed from ocean beds, fossils in which recorded life from the transfer from water to land.


I was surprised to see the broken sandstone was almost white inside: the gorgeous orange-brown hues in the sunrise was actually just staining and dirt.  Should Daniel’s Aunt Mandy come by with her mop and scourer (we paid her to clean our kitchen last week; I had no idea the sink strainers could shine metallic ever again) the whole canyon would resemble the Taj Mahal after cleaning.  It was like looking at medieval churches in Europe, the black air pollution staining previously white rock.


The bus took us back to the resort and I read a few more chapters of my book and had a nap.


Kata Tjuta & Kings Canyon


Dan drove us from Yulara to Kings Canyon today, about 300 km and 4 hours according to Google Maps but we got there in 3 hours.  I offered to drive half way, after rousing from a nap in a fit of sneezing.  I’d like to think it’s because of the dust but it’s a head cold from run down with lack of sleep.  Daniel played A State of Trance and I levelled up in Candy Crush, before reading more of, “The Bone Clocks”, another incredibly confusing novel by David Mitchell.  Our cell phones picked up reception two or three times on the way and I’d receive updates on WhatsApp from the former Toronto Breast Fellows group; Supriya is at a conference in Goa on breast imaging with several former fellows.  Sounds like Anabel is there as well.


Kata Tjuta


We woke early to repeat the central Australian tourist daily ritual: get up as early as possible to get to the hiking location and hike before the sun gets too high in the sky and the walk is closed due to high risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion and death.  I really did not want to wake up.  Selecting foods appropriate for our 12-week Metabolic Precision lifestyle change was not difficult, as the range was appropriately varied.  I felt sad not to indulge in a hot croissant with butter and marmalade but we’d not just exercised and it wasn’t time to eat high-energy carbohydrates.  I ate scrambled eggs with mushrooms and tomato and a slice of dried-out bacon instead.  I forgot to have a Krill oil capsule.


It was a short drive West of Yulara to reach the multiple domes of Kata Tjuta.  The hike was rated as Level 3 and Level 4 in difficulty.  After having rolled my ankle (and torn my anterior inferior tibiofibular ligament) hiking in Karijini on a Level 3 descent into a gorge I was cautious.  Dan traipsed off ahead like we were in customs at Heathrow; without a backward glance he was quickly far in front.  I carried the backpack.   We had about 6 x 600 mL bottles of cold water, protein shakes, grapes (A$12 a kg!) and two small tins of tuna.  There were no toilets.  The flies were few.  The sun was warm but not hot.  The wind was gusty.


We hiked the Valley of the Winds two both lookouts, but not the full circuit.  Achieving everything on offer is no longer important to me, but Daniel suffers from Fear of Missing Out.  I quite happily offered to take the blame and be the reason we did not hike around the entire circuit.  I refused.  Thankfully Dan wasn’t super keen.  We passed a very large school group, that caught up with us at the second lookout.  One teenage girl exclaimed, “We aren’t going back that way are way?  Because if we are, I will literally cry!” I unsuccessfully hid my laugh at her outburst.  Going back was easier than going forwards.  They had 7.3 km to go; we had 3 km.


I have probably missed observing a lot of beautiful forest in Canada, frozen landscape in Iceland, gorgeous gorges in Karijini and many other things in life because I focus on the path in front of me and don’t get distracted by my peripheral vision.  By comparison Dan managed to drive to both Uluru and Kata Tjuta with his head turned 90 degrees to the right, exclaiming, “Look at THAT!” I would look up from my ebook, heart in my throat at the very real possibility of a terrible car crash ahead on the road but see nothing except solid white lines and bitumen into the distance.  Meanwhile Dan has noticed an eagle or another view of Uluru peripheral to where he should be paying attention.  On the hike into Walpo Gorge Dan saw a perentie.  It was a juvenile and trying to cross the path. We took photos.  Non-English speakers hikers did not understand our excited mime-explanations of “There is a LARGE LIZARD next to the path!” One woman walked past, looked back and shrieked.



Kings Canyon


We reached the Kings Canyon Resort at 15:00.  I’m not sure what criteria qualify the use of the word “resort” but in the Northern Territory it so far equates to “remote and expensive but still the bathroom mould smells like a sewer, so close the door”.  We’d booked an inclusive package which the Duty Manager seemed to know nothing about when he checked us in.  When he gave us our key and began to close the check-in without any explanation of our Dinner Under the Desert Moon, Kings Canyon Rim Walk at 06:30 tomorrow, how we redeemed our included breakfast, lunch and dinner at the restaurant or booked the local Aboriginal experience I returned to the car, retrieved the itinerary our travel agent had provided and thrust it at Dan to liaise with more civility than I could muster.


There were two other couples at the Under the Desert Moon dinner tonight.  Just like our last two nights we found the conversation with other tourists was easy, and continued beyond the usual “where did you travel from?” and “where will you go next?” Superficial identifiers.  One couple, in their 70s, were from Brisbane but had flown via Darwin to Alice Springs, drove down to Uluru and had spent 6 days there. The second couple, from Melbourne, were going to support their son’s choir tomorrow in Uluru, and had let their three daughters in the resort restaurant, only mildly concerned about the chance of encounters with a dingo.  We had seen a dingo under a picnic table on the drive over. It was hot and I felt bad we hadn’t found it some water but, according to the signs here and tonight’s chef’s explanation: they’re wild animals and feeding or watering them changes their behaviour and dependence and is punishable by a $77 000 fine.


Must sleep early tonight.  A 4-hour hike tomorrow around the rim of the canyon.  Why do I keep forgetting this is what happens when I let Dan organise our travel plans!?  Thankfully there is no snorkelling with wildlife this trip.


Uluru – You Don’t Have to Climb to Conquer

Daniel had the unrealistic expectations that we’d:

  1. Wake up before dawn.
  2. Traipse around the entire perimeter of Uluru (over 10 km).
  3. Not get burnt alive by the searing central Australian sun and then eaten by flies.

In reality we:

  1. Slept in (until 7, which as we’re in a different time zone was actually waking up early at 05:30).
  2. Joined the 1 hour 1 km Ranger-guided Mala walk.
  3. Eventually decided walking around Uluru under the midday sun was not worth the kudos of the achievement when the car had both air conditioning and shade.
  4. Took some great photos of the permissible areas for photography.


Two days ago I messaged my specialty college (RANZCR) on Facebook, after having noticed yet another medical specialty college post a press release of their board’s support of marriage equality.  The AMA gave public support 20 May 2017; they’ve run member surveys for months. My friends in Emergency Medicine, Critical Care, Physicians and then even the bloody obstetricians and gynaecologists were all able to share their specialty college’s social media statements.  My college was completely silent on the issue. It hadn’t been raised at the recent state AGM (a three-hour meeting on a week night) so would the Board even be on top of it? I asked whether the RANZCR board had an opinion, expecting the answer to be, “What?” or something along the lines of the Carlton Football Club, where explicitly not supporting is exactly that: not supporting it.


RANZCOG – 18 September

RACP – 19 September 

College of Intensive Care Medicine of New Zealand and Australia – 19 September



I waited 2 days without any reply.  The RANZCR Facebook account in the interim posted an update on the Annual Scientific Meeting coming up in October, for which I really need to finish my talk on placental imaging.  Most disgruntled with indignation that I hadn’t even received any response I thought back to lunch time conversation  on Monday, sage advice from a senior colleague, to a junior consultant about a perceived malign from another department: “Expect incompetence, not malice.  Nine out of ten times it will be incompetence.” I am a Facebook Admin for the private practice where I work and patients infrequently will message requesting appointments, or direction.  We always reply within the hour, even if it’s a redirection to call the office during office hours. I considered that at the recent state AGM only 5/24 present were female and 1/24 present  was living openly in a non-heterosexual relationship (me); we probably don’t have a gender or diversity policy let alone a media release for a current political topic that all the other colleges were publishing statements about.  I’d probably caught them on the back foot. Maybe they just weren’t even checking their Facebook account.



I resolved to write an offical letter along with suggestions for possible solutions, just as soon as we were back from circumnavigating a giant rock (and sacred Aboriginal site) in the middle of the country.  As we heard our Aboriginal (Queenslander, not local) guide explain why the climbers descending the rock were being disrespectful to the local people I fumed at the disrespect of having been ignored on Facebook for 48 hours. I’m a half-white Australian so maybe I was just feeling a loss of privilege and needed a bit of perspective.  I swatted the flies away. The strangers we met last night at dinner were all clamouring support on hearing that we were married in Canada three years ago.  I needed to  conquer a metaphorical rock in my path. I didn’t have to climb it to do so. As the signs say, “Look and listen.” When we got back to the car, and back into cellphone range I had a notification of response from my college, the President and CEO (not the board) have finally issued a media statement and it was also in support:

RANZCR – 22 September 2017

20170922 President & CEO Statement on Marriage Equality


We didn’t get back to the Visitor Centre to sign the register of visitors that Did Not Climb but I’ll use my free time now to email the Tourism Australia to request that we invest in alternatives to climbing the sacred site. We didn’t climb over Stonehenge or the Parthenon.

Field of Light – Uluru

Field of Light – Uluru

We arrived in Ayer’s Rock markedly sleep deprived.  Thankfully our room was available just before 3 and I crawled into bed and passed out for two hours.  Our travel agent had booked us “A Night at Field of Light” – an experience upgraded from coach transfer from hotel to the installation to include a buffet dinner under the stars and a brief star-gazing experience.  We enjoyed the spectacle and, surprisingly for me especially, enjoyed the table conversations with complete strangers.  Next to Dan was a mother and daughter from coastal NSW, on a hard-worked holiday trip but where each had very different and conflicting expectations of the holiday.  Next to them sat a heterosexual older English couple from Newcastle.  Next to them and on my right were two British junior doctors, currently working in Cairns, on a mid-week break.  When I told Sam, the JMO on my right, that I am a consultant radiologist he literally shook with fear and awkwardness.  It was like he’d been sat next to an executioner.  Past experiences requesting imaging had not been pleasant and now he did not look forward to dinner.  I hope we made up for it.

Uluru, Australia

The installation met expectations: standing in a field of fibre-optic lights that gently glowed a range of colours.  The cooling night air alternately wafted by punctuated by gusts of hot air.  We spent the dinner batting a range of bugs out of our drinks.  Small flies, dragonflies, a cricket and a few moths.

Uluru Australia

The stand out of the night was not the amazing food or the generous drink pours.  It was the star gazing experience. Keera, our guide gave a well structured presentation that was audience targeted, stayed on message and did not vomit up exhaustive information volumes.  Instead she opened by explaining the theory of the Big Bang, the current perspective of Earth to the Milky Way, then orienting a few landmarks, stars and constellations. The mood was light, spoken in an Aussie drawl and peppered with so bad they were good jokes.  Keera shone a torch at a star.  “That’s Alpha Centauri.  It’s 4.3 light years away so its light takes over 4 years to reach us.  It could have died but I still get to talk for the next 4 years.  Talk about job security.  Over here, that’s East-ish…” Sagittarius was the best: the arm, the head, the arrow and, over here is meant to be a horse (torch light criss-crosses a segment of sky).


Early to bed tonight. Circumferential walk around tomorrow. We also had “Sounds of Silence” dinner booked which, I’ve just read, is the same dinner we had tonight, but without the additional walk around the lights! We booked the same thing twice.  Oh well.


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