It’s the 12th week of our State of Emergency in Victoria and we have been in isolation (and for the last week, or so, in semi-isolation), for nearly three months now. It’s two weeks since my last post but not very much has changed in our lives. We are still lying low and avoiding contact with large. groups of people. Doing this now seems quite normal.
With the minor easing of some restrictions, I notice that there is much more traffic on the roads, the cafe’s (especially those with outdoor seating) are busy and there are many more people at the shopping mall. Our society is coming back to life again At the height of our lock down, I visited the mall because there was a seafood shop that I wanted to purchase from. The entire place was deserted. It is different now.
The weather here has become quite cold. In the mornings, the temperature has been as low as one or two degrees celsius although the days have evolved into sunny, but cool days. I’m going to have to start protecting our frost sensitive plants. We have just a few flowers left on our rose bushes. Soon it will be time for their winter prune.
Sometimes, it is good to take delight in simple things like the full moon that we had during the week.
On two of the recent sunny days, we have taken the opportunity to drive for short distances to see some of our nearby waterfalls. One of these was just a few kilometres away on the Yarra River – Dights Falls.
These falls consist of rapids and a weir. At this point, the river narrows and is constricted between an 800,000-year-old basalt lava flow and a much older steep, silurian, sedimentary spur. (I rememberer all this from my high school geology class). Prior to European settlement, the area was occupied by the indigenous Wurundjeri tribe of the Kulin nation. The rock falls that were originally there would have provided these Aboriginal people with a natural river crossing and place to trap migrating fish.
In 1839, John Dight, a flour miller, purchased a block of land next to the falls and in 1841, he built a water-powered mill. He constructed a small weir on the natural bar of basalt boulders to regulate water for the water wheel. The weir was later upgraded in 1895 for the Melbourne Flour Milling Company and still exists today.
We were very ‘adventurous’ on another sunny day and drove north to the Kinglake National Park for a picnic lunch and a walk down to Masons Falls. We were careful to avoid contact with others but it was easy to find a picnic table where we could eat our lunch away from people.. Masons Falls can be seen from a viewing platform that is reached along a 700 metre walking track from the picnic area. A stream falls 45 metres down a ravine into a steep-sided gorge.
Prior to the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, this National Park was renowned for being home to the tallest tree in Victoria. This specimen of Eucalyptus Regnans (Mountain Ash) stood at 91.6 metres (301 ft) tall and was estimated to be around 150 years old. The fire was started by lightning during a severe thunderstorm. Much of the local town of KInglake was destroyed and nearly a hundred lives were lost. We could still see blackened tree trunks and the skeletons of mountain ash trees in the forest. These trees do not grow again after a fire, but new trees grow from their seeds that are cracked open by the heat of the fire.
We have looked on with astonishment at the protests and riots following the death of George Floyd by very aggressive police action in America. Astonishment because we would never see such police behaviour here. Also because of the complete lack of sensitivity and empathy of the American President, Donald Trump. While looting and the vandalism of property is totally unacceptable, we can’t fathom his wish to call out the military. His statement of ‘When looting starts, shooting starts”, seems to us to be very antagonistic, just intending to impose more of the same violence on people that they were already protesting against. His wish to implement martial law is something that tin-pot dictators do – not presidents of advanced western societies. Thank goodness that the American military generals refused to have the military act against their own people.
On another angry note, I am appalled at our own state government’s passive response to the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest that was held here last Saturday. Our Aboriginal activists had jumped on the George Floyd bandwagon and held protest marches that were attended by thousands in our city streets.
Not for one minute would I dare to say that our indigenous people are not disadvantaged, I despair at not knowing any way for dealing with the issues that they face. Their numbers are over represented in our prison populations, they suffer from lower standards of almost everything – health, education, and employment.
However, in my view, they would be far better to compare themselves, not with the Black African Americans, but with the Native Americans and the First Nations People of Canada. All these indigenous people have been disadvantaged by those who occupied their traditional territories. All face significant cultural differences and these are reflected in very similar ways – problems with alcohol, drugs, family violence, poverty, life expectancy and welfare.
So why am I angry at our state government? For weeks, they have opposed some of the tightest restrictions in the world. We have been ordered to stay at home with hefty fines for not abiding by quite appropriate restrictions. Rightly so, we veterans were not allowed to march and commemorate Anzac Day. We couldn’t visit our families on Mothers Day and we hadn’t been able to see our grandchildren for nearly three months. Now, all of a sudden, these Aboriginal activists decided that the time is right to hold a protest event and they invited thousands to join them on the streets in a protest that really didn’t have to be held right now.
What does our state government do? They allow them to hold this protest with impunity. How hypocritical is that? Thousands of people in close contact with no social distancing. I just hope that, in a week our so, we don’t have another spike of Covid-19 cases as a result of this illegal assembly (we are still in a state of emergency).
Currently Australia is doing very well in restricting the spread of the virus. We have less than 30 hospitalised cases across the whole country and only 6 new cases yesterday. I will regard these protest organisers as being very selfish if their actions result in a rise of virus numbers and any cause delay to opening up our community. Our government will be complicit. Time will tell!