The big news in Australia this week is – wait for it – covid! I don’t wish to suggest that the reaction to the more infectious Delta strain is unwarranted… well… not everywhere. It takes a LOT for NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to announce a lockdown. It’s notable that she hasn’t locked down the whole state, and has responded to an outbreak of cases currently numbering less than two hundred, most of them already in quarantine. It’s a 14-day lockdown for Greater Sydney and Wollongong, unfortunate but prudent. However, ‘prudent’ isn’t a word I’d use for the premiers of WA, NT, and Qld. Two or three cases should not force a lockdown. It’s hysterical fear-mongering – but I should at least concede they are not whole of state lockdowns. And (so far) Victoria and SA are not in lockdown.
I need hardly add that these latest restrictions coincide with the two-week school holidays, a prime time for tourist destinations. Who’d want to be running a restaurant at a resort right now? And I also need hardly add that toilet paper has disappeared from the shelves in a lot of places. Disappearing toilet paper is symptomatic of a feeling of unease in the community. People are less likely to want to travel, for fear of being caught up in one of these lockdowns. The on-going ramifications for tourism are huge.
As an example, Pete and I were offered a four-day trip to Uluru, flying directly out of Hervey Bay on a charter flight in July. That’s tempting because we normally have to drive or fly to Brisbane to fly anywhere. I assume the tour company had made sure that accommodation was available, but when we looked at the resorts at Uluru, many restaurants were closed and tours were in hiatus. The tour operator wouldn’t tell us what company they were using for the charter flight and told us we would get a refund of our deposit (half the cost) if the tour didn’t go ahead due to insufficient numbers. But if the tour was cancelled for any other reason, we would be given credit for another tour. Um, sorry, no. I sympathise with tour operators but I’ve heard a few stories from the customer point of view and don’t feel like offering companies interest-free loans with no guarantee of getting a trip I want.
So, we’ll continue to stay at home and hope that our NZ trip early next year (for which we’ve paid nothing yet) will be on. Hope is fading for our European trip in March. We have to be able to get to Europe for that.
Actually, we did go out the other day – a half-hour drive up to Burrum Heads to have fish and chips for lunch. We sat on a bench by the river and watched the pelicans fly by while we ate. I sometimes have a craving for fish ‘n chips, but nearly every time, I’m disappointed. This was no different. However, while we waited for our order at the chippie we saw a low-flying white-bellied sea eagle. OF COURSE I hadn’t taken my camera and the phone camera would have captured a dot in the sky. They are magnificent birds, rivalling wedge-tailed eagles in size. They also have that distinctive, wedge-shaped tail. Just to make the point, another sea eagle appeared in the sky over Aldi when we arrived to shop. Now all I need is a chance to see one when I’ve got my camera with me. 😊
I note that QR codes have appeared in the supermarkets. Nobody is policing that at the moment but we shall see.
I suppose the police state mentality isn’t quite as bad as in China. But in the last year or so our open, free society where we could travel anywhere without restrictions has evaporated. We have to check in everywhere and to go interstate we must obtain what is effectively a visa. You can be fined for not wearing a mask or not socially distancing and the rules you have to follow can change while you’re en route. Nice if you’re flying and you’re told to quarantine at your expense. And don’t get me started on refusals to refuse to allow fully vaccinated people from visiting a dying father (in palliative care) one last time.
I’m delighted to say I’m making good progress on my latest book. I know when it’s working well when I spend my usual 2am wake up period going through plot points and working out what’s going to happen next. So far, in a week, the great niece has become a granddaughter and while she picks up the clue at a clearance sale, it’s no longer a decrepit old house, it’s a flash modern residence. And I think one of the minor characters will have to go.
Apart from, we’ve had rather a lot of unseasonal (or unseasonable) rain. This is supposed to be our dry season but the Indian Ocean Dipole has revved up and a huge low came across the whole country. We usually get our rain from the Pacific in summer, delivered as showers or short, sharp storms where 50mm falls in as many minutes. But for the last couple of days we’ve had long periods of gentle mizzle. (Look it up – it’s an Old English combination of miserable and drizzle.) It rained all night for less than 30mm. Which means writing books isn’t a bad thing to do. And Pete gets out of mowing.
We haven’t seen much of the lorikeets or miner birds in the last several months – but they do show up when it rains. I think a bit of bread is like junk food for them – warms up the wings. We also have an over abundance of paw paws at the moment (yes, I’ve frozen some). But lorikeets like paw paw, too and it’s always nice to share.