Isolation Down Under
Last month Sco Mo (Scott Morrison, PM of Aus) announced new pandemic restrictions to help ‘flatten the curve’ in an attempt to stop the spread and consequent threat to human life of COVID-19. To paint the picture, the current regulation highlights are:
Gatherings of only 2 people allowed (as well as maintaining physical distancing - I’m not a fan of the term ‘social distancing’ because we can still remain social using technology)
People over 70 advised to stay at home at all times
Only essential travel or to visit relatives are permitted
Only essential service businesses are open
Basically, the regulations are in essence consistent with most of Europe and other badly affected areas.
Meanwhile the number of cases of COVID-19 in Aus current stands around the 6,400 mark and around 63 deaths, one of which was sadly 10 ish miles from us in Noosa. So relatively speaking it isn’t that bad compared to a lot of countries, there are also signs Australia is ‘flattening the curve’ however, there is no light at the end of the tunnel yet for lifting restrictions.
That’s the hard stuff out of the way. Let’s move onto positive stuff and what it’s like living in isolation down under.
The climate. Yep, it’s hot and sunny 90% of the time, at the moment. I say ‘at the moment’ as the odd recent tropical storm has whipped up some pretty gnarly rain and lightning. However, it’s not pathetic English wet air rain, it’s walls of water where you can expect up to a metre of rain in just a few hours. Luckily the Aussies are far more prepared for volatile weather systems because, so far, nothing seems to be that affected. Then there’s the humidity, for a few weeks it has been around 90%. Meaning if you sit down in the shade, you sweat. If you stand up in an indoor fridge, you sweat. It can be a pretty tough gig for us English who are used to huddling around a fire pit just to feel our toes. However, even if I do say so myself, I’ve taken to it like a duck to water or an Aussie to a VB long neck bitter.
The temperature. Like I eluded to, it’s hot. But not too hot. I do think that we have hit the sweet spot with the temperature at the moment. It ranges from around high teens in the morning and evening to mid 20’s.
All in all the weather lends no excuses to get active inside and outside the house. Luckily, I was able to acclimatize pre COVID-19 by playing sport. However, since I am unable to play any sport I have changed to running and there are a few things that are particularly important. Firstly, the timing – different parts of the day have different levels of humidity and heat – personally I prefer the lower temperature and high humidity, so I work out in the morning, but everyone is different so experiment but definitely avoid the mid-day heat! Secondly, pacing, it is more difficult to exercise in the heat so I tend to go off effort rather than focusing on exact timings/reps - although I am looking forward to seeing the rewards in a few months when winter arrives! Finally, I have found I need to plan a lot more –in particular that I have enough water, electrolytes and the route has some shade! As Aus is prepared for the heat we are equipped with air-con and fans so luckily it is easy to cool down after exercising.
Noosa is classed as living in regional Australia, like lots of regional Australia the wildlife is outstanding and spotting wildlife has become a great activity in isolation. You’ve seen the Facebook posts of bats the size of cars and snakes the size of a Chinese teak tree, well they probably are lurking around here but if you’re lucky/unlucky enough (depending on perceptions) you’re unlikely to encounter them. But in the Noosa district you WILL encounter everything from snakes, kangaroos, wallabies, aquatic life, birds (yep including kookaburras and cockatoos/parrots) and even the rare koala! You name it, it’s probably in our garden. I mean the only big Aussie beast you’re not going to see is a crocodile which isn't native till you get proper North like Cairns. As I write this Roo-by and Roo-ney have just bounced over…
Unlike the big cities such as Sydney, the beaches here are still open for locals to exercise. Living in a more rural area is definitely a big bonus right now. Noosa is the equivalent to Devon or Cornwall in the UK, it’s where many natives flock to for holidays so would usually be really busy at this time of year but the car parks were closed over Easter to discourage visitors attending.
The beaches here are absolutely stunning, quite frankly we are spoilt. With the Pacific Ocean pummelling away at the shoreline you are left with what can only be described as something out of a postcard. The water isn't cold and you could stay in the water for hours swimming or surfing - although at the moment everyone is being sensible with how much time they spend exercising.
I am fortunate to be living in a regional area at this time and although it's not the right time to travel it is a great time to plan - so finally, I am going to use this isolation time to prepare a visa application so that I can stay longer and to start dreaming about future trips. It's important for everyone to have something to look forward to and you have an opportunity to do that thing you’ve been putting off.