We are back in lockdown again, this time because of the very aggressive Delta strain of Covid. Our lockdown began on August 6th with the state government declaring that it act as a one-week long circuit breaker. It has now gone on for a month and we don’t think that it will end until late October because the government are saying that people will not be free to go about any normal form of business until 80% of the population are fully vaccinated. So far the numbers sit at 37%, so we have a long way to go.
I heard one radio commentator say that the worst part of a seven-day snap lockdown in Victoria was the first thirty days! So true. Today, Melbourne became the world record holder for the most locked down city in the world – 235 days in total.
Australia’s governments became very complacent about obtaining vaccine supplies because our virus numbers were so low. We still have only 1012 deaths since the virus first impacted us in March last year. I actually don’t even know anyone who has contracted the virus. Now, as a country, we are playing catch-up to be able to open up as other countries are already doing.
The weather on many days of this current lock down period have been cold and wet (after all, it is still winter) although the last few days have been warmer with lots of sunshine. We have been able to get out to some of the local parks for a walk and to the local cafes for a take-away coffee. Our favourite places are Petty’s Orchard and Beasley’s Nursery. These places are just within our allowed travel distance of 5 km and give us a chance to sit in the car and look out on something different other than our back yard for a while.
The highlight of our week, like last time, is to go to the supermarket or to the DIY store which is not open, but we can ‘click and collect’ garden supplies. Most retail stores are closed again with only shops that sell food and essential services remaining open. Mind you, we don’t go the supermarket and the DIY store on the same day – we need to spread the excitement out over the week rather than have it all over on one day.
It’s interesting what happens when you are not looking.
Yesterday, on a balmy sunny day, we thought that we would walk through Westerfolds Park (a nearby area of government owned area of parkland) to see what the kangaroos were doing. There is a large open area about one km along the trail where they commonly graze . Yesterday, we were surprised to see that two large areas of the park had been fenced off with high fences and entry gates to allow access to the rectangular area within the fences.
It turns out that these fences have been erected to create protection areas for newly planted trees. A new freeway and tunnel are being constructed in our area and this will impact around 26,000 trees. Included in these trees is the endangered Studley Park Gum, a rare natural hybrid between the River Red Gum and a Swamp Gum.
Many of these are growing in the army’s signal corps training barracks (Simpson Barracks) in the north eastern suburb of Watsonia. It contains the largest and probably last viable population of this species so new plantings are being made at Westerfolds and other local areas to ensure that these trees survive.
The River Red Gum is a unique tree with lots of character. They were immortalised by the colonial era artist, Hans Heyson, in his paintings. However, they have very brittle branches that can fall down without warning. There is normally a collection of debris around the base of these trees. You certainly do not want to camp under the canopy of them. This is why they have been nicknamed ‘widow makers’.
The fences were to prevent the kangaroos eating the seedling trees. Some were some grazing nearby and it was very nice to see them in the local area. The river was flowing quietly and we had a very pleasant time in the park for more than an hour.