As we found out last Friday, one has to be very flexible in these days of the Covid virus. We were planning to spend a weekend away at one of our favourite Bed & Breakfast locations in Gippsland
but we ended up spending the weekend, and more, back at home.
We left home early on Friday to head to the little town of Newborough in the Latrobe Valley, travelling on our way via Healesville to pick up a deluxe Valentine’s Day picnic hamper from Rochford winery. We then drove through some beautiful forested country with tall eucalyptus trees and bright green tree ferns to the town of Warragul where we met up with some friends (Rod and Margot) for lunch. Lunch was at Hoggets Kitchen, a superb restaurant in a vineyard, just to the south of Warragul.
Rod and Margot were the previous owners of Brigadoon Cottages where we had intended to stay. We always got on pretty well with them and before they retired, we used to visit Brigadoon as much to see them, as we did to have some time away from home.
We had heard some news reports on the radio that there had been another virus escape from the hotels in which returned travellers were housed. We kept an eye on our phones over lunch only to hear the news that the whole state of Victoria was to be locked down for five days from midnight. We had no choice but to abandon our weekend and return home. Fortunately, we were able to boo some other dates at Brigadoon in April.
I have to say that I am very angry and frustrated at this state government’s lack of ability to manage infection control in these hotels and to stop the virus escaping into the community. I am very proud of the fact that in Australia generally we have controlled the virus very well. When I first looked at the statistics back in March last year, Australia was in 49th position on the list of most infected countries and now we are down to 111th position.
However our state of Victoria has been far less effective in making a contribution. Australia has had about 28,000 infections and 70% of them have been in Victoria. There has been around 900 deaths in Australia from Covid and Victoria accounts for 90% of them. We have had three state-wide lockdowns now whilst other states have only had one. We citizens of Melbourne have been locked down in some form or other for a total of 16 weeks since March last year. That means that for 30% of the year we have been confined to our homes. No other state has anywhere near the same experience.
The government bureaucrats run ‘health hotels’ in which returned travellers from overseas are quarantined. There have now been three outbreaks from these hotels. By contrast the ‘hot hotels’ in which positively infected patients are quarantined, has not been one outbreak. Those hotels are run by Alfred Health, one of Melbourne’s leading hospitals and they have a far better record in infection control than the bureaucrat run facilities. It is about time that the government did its job properly and stopped exposing us to the virus and causing the community so much economic damage.
While I don’t deny the need for a lockdown as this virus spreads very quickly, once it gets out of control, for the next five days we are back to stage four restrictions with masks on inside and out, no shopping and no visitors to our homes. Travel is again limited to 5 km from home and we are only able to exercise outdoors for two hours per day. I think that the Victorian government has well and truly run out of goodwill in relation to its management of the Covid virus.
Over this Valentines Day weekend, restaurants were fully booked and florist shops were fully stocked. It was also the start of the Chinese New Year. All those business suddenly lost all their trade and had to throw out all their food and produce. What a disaster! This sort of thing doesn’t seem to matter to public servants!
However, here we at home with nowhere to go We had originally planned to take our Valentine’s Day hamper to a beautiful little picnic spot on the banks of the Coopers Creek near Rawson. Instead we had it in our back garden. Our Rochford hamper included a bottle of a wine, a picnic rug and food to make up a three course lunch. In fact, the servings were so generous, we had enough for lunch on the next day as well. The cold herbed chicken was good but the strawberries dipped in chocolate were better! It was wonderful meal and we enjoyed it immensely.
Life still goes on and nature is abundant with many fascinating things.
A pair of Noisy Miners have made a nest in a bush that overhangs our carport. They have two babies in the nest and the parents are busy flying backwards and forwards to the nest with food for their chicks. The chicks have an incessant and endless chirp that only stops when they hear our footsteps approaching or their parents are feeding them. Tonight, I was able to to stand a little back from this nest and see the two babies.. Both now have their eyes open and they wait with their mouths perpetually open for their next morsel of food.
On most evenings, we are visited by one or more Sulphur Crested Cockatoos. They seem to be very fond of the little nuts that grow on our decorative pear trees. It takes quite a bit of work to clean up the little shells that they drop and the bunches of leaves that they pull from the trees. Once upon a time, Jill used to feed a small flock of these birds but they are terribly destructive with their strong beaks. It was time to stop when they started gnawing on our window frames and stripping the timber away from the walls.
Well, let’s see how long this current lockdown continues. Let’s hope that we can still get away to some of the trips and weekends that have had booked in March.