Gosh, another week has whipped by while we weren’t looking. The grocery stores are almost back to pre-covid-19 with a lot less empty space and the shops have lifted some restrictions on quantity. The instances of new cases of covid-19 have slowed to a trickle and the Powers That Be in Canberra and (mainly) the state governments in Australia are easing restrictions from next week.
“Non-essential” shops will be allowed to open again. Here in Hervey Bay that probably means clothes stores and other specialty shops. Bunnings (a hardware store) has been open all the time, as have Harvey Norman (furnishings), and Office Works (stuff for offices) and according to their websites so have the big variety stores like Target, Big W, and K Mart. Because Pete and I have been adhering to the rules, we can’t attest to the variety stores – but the others advertised they were open for business on TV.
Restaurants, pubs, and clubs will remain closed. I’m guessing nail beauticians, masseurs and what have you would still be on the no-go list, although (as reported last week) hair salons were allowed to open. Schools have never been completely closed and the PM wants them to reopen.
At a council level beaches have been reopened on the proviso that social distancing must continue and you can take a boat out for a spin even if you’re not going fishing. Parks and barbecue areas will open, once again keeping your distance from strangers. Groups of (I think) five will be okay.
State borders are apparently going to reopen so people can drive from one state to another without showing a permit and not get fined or quarantined. But at the moment only for rugby players.
But we’re still being asked to stay within 50km of home. That’s easy enough in the big cities but for those who live in the bush, it’s bugger all.
The problem in Oz is that we have three tiers of government. Schools and hospitals are both state responsibilities, as are the state borders, and all of the states have their own slightly different versions of restrictions. The coming weeks will tell if easing back is going to work. For the sake of the economy, I hope so. But I also hope it’s not too soon. Spanish flu restrictions were lifted in 1918 and there was a second, more severe, wave of infection.
I think Pete and I will be taking the advice of these Aussie musicians and staying home for a few weeks more.
Seeing as how we’re staying in our own backyard, I’d like you to meet a few of our regular visitors.
This guy is a crested pigeon. Like all members of the pigeon family, they’re about as bright as a box of rocks. But those iridescent colours on the edge of the wings are pretty.
‘Magpie’ means different things in different countries. This is our Australian version, simply black and white and with a beautiful singing voice.
Our local pair turn up during the breeding season, when they appreciate a little help with dinner for the babies. We don’t see them all that much at other times. Although they can be protective in the breeding season and swoop people who come too near their nests, we’ve never had a problem, here or where we lived in Victoria. The secret is to make friends with them.
Then there are the ever-present rainbow lorikeets. They come for breakfast and dinner, usually in pairs. They’re cute and colourful, but they’re aggressive little buggers, especially when they’re in large flocks. We might get as many as thirty birds in our yard at one time, all fighting over apple juice or a couple of slices of multi-grain bread. They’re an introduced pest in Western Australia and Victoria, where they compete with the local parrots. Still and all, Queensland is their home range and we enjoy their company.
This guy is a blue-faced honey eater. When they’re young that blue patch is pale green (picture below). They are usually in small family groups. They compete for food with the lorikeets and they like nothing better than pulling a lorikeet’s tail. True story. It’s hilarious. See below.
We get occasional visits from sulphur crested cockatoos. This one decided it wanted whatever the lorikeets were getting in those bowls. You can see the comparative sizes of the birds. Needless to say, the big white bully won. But it wasn’t a push-over. (Well, it was – but you know what I mean.)
Keep safe, everyone. Oh – one more thing I’m close to writing ‘the end’ on the first draft of my latest book. Yay me!
We do have some beautiful birds. But of all our birds, my favourite is the sparrow. Always there, always seeming cheerful.