The first rugby league game of the restarted season was played last night, signalling the start of a new phase of easing covid-19 restrictions. There were no live spectators at the match but the viewing audience via TV and on line was in millions. The TV audience was 1.6 million and the match was on channels in the US and UK. The media is estimating 30-40 million viewers for the opening games. I suppose it’s an indication of how much fans want sport to resume. There are still a few hurdles to overcome regarding closed borders between states. AFL (Australian football) is due to restart in early June. Personally, I couldn’t give a rats – but I know not everyone agrees with me.
Intrastate travel restrictions are starting to be eased, with Western Australia lifting most of its bans as of now. In Queensland we can travel up to 150km from home in a day trip. Around 12th June (provided nothing untoward happens before then) we can travel 250km and stay at caravan parks and camping grounds. Mind you, 250km is, frankly, bugger-all outside the big Australian cities. It wouldn’t get us to Brisbane, so that’s obviously out of the question now. Just as well we don’t much like going to Brisbane. We’re over big cities.
Mind you, we could visit Woodgate.
Woodgate is a tiny town about 100km from our house. We stayed there twice before we made the big move from Victoria to Hervey Bay. Back then the place was three parallel streets between the beach and a national park, with avenues running parallel to the streets. It’s a bit like the naming system in Manhattan. And that’s about where the similarities end. Woodgate has one pub, a bowls club, a general store, and a boat ramp – and miles and miles of sandy beach in the sheltered waters of Hervey Bay. The place has grown a little since then, but not too much. It’s essentially a holiday destination 40km from the Bruce Highway and the little town of Childers. We hired a house for a week and did our grocery shopping in either Bundaberg (60km north but with bigger supermarkets) or Childers. If you’re looking for a spot to simply chill, walk, maybe fish a little – Woodgate is perfect. The pub did great meals if we didn’t want to cook. We did consider for a minute or two moving there to live but even 15 years ago we weren’t as young as we used to be and we had to consider realities like access to medical services.
The first time we stayed at Woodgate we rented a place down the far end of the beach near where the four-wheel-drives went down onto the sand. The second time, we rented an old Queenslander. They’re wooden houses built on stilts with wide verandas to allow breezes to come through in the warm and steamy summer months. Quite often, people closed up the bottom part to provide extra storage. This one wasn’t as pretty as the ones shown in that link. Downstairs it had a jerry-built bathroom with the most eye watering electrics we’d ever seen. If it had been done by an electrician his licence should have been cancelled. We used the bathroom on the main floor upstairs.
Victorians usually come up to Queensland to enjoy the balmy winter weather – and we were no different. The thing is, it can, from time to time, get cold in Queensland and the houses are not built for that. The first night we were there we were glad Pete’s brother had decided not to come with us. Halfway through the night we raided what would have been his bed and pulled off all the blankets for ourselves. It was ffff-freezing! We found out next morning the temperature had gone as low as 2 degrees. But the days were lovely, with temps in the low twenties.
One of the really nice things about Woodgate is its relationship with the local eastern grey kangaroos. Wild roos don’t mind sharing space with humans, as we found when we lived in rural Victoria. They’re not tame but they get used to having people around and the grass around the houses at Woodgate was inviting. They’d come out of the forest in late afternoon and lounge around the yards. They’d go to the beach, too – certainly not such an uncommon occurrence as you might imagine. It happens all over Australia. Yes, they can swim.
Woodgate was threatened during our Black Summer. The national park burned and the residents were told to get out. There’s one road in and out and the only comparatively safe spot would have been the beach. Fortunately it didn’t come to that – because of the hard work of the fire services.
I’m sure Woodgate could use some visitors but I doubt the pub would be open. What’s the point if you can only have ten guests?
And in other news my latest book, Retribution, is out there in the online book stores. Check it out here.