Hotel Quarantine – My Journey

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Six months ago I was in Hotel Quarantine in Sydney, after flying back to Australia from the UK.

There was a very thorough arrival process at the airport. Quiet corridors, a temperature check and chat with a nurse, questions about covid symptoms, general and underlying health issues, mental health. Passport control, customs, baggage claim, then directed to coaches by Police and Military. The coach seemed to have all singles on it and it took us to a hotel in the city. There was the same police and military presence at the hotel. They took our luggage from the coach and lined it up outside hotel. We were allowed off the coach three at a time, to identify our luggage then we were checked in by police officers. We were given welcome info, meal bag. A soldier escorted me to my room. There was security on each floor. No room key as I couldn’t leave the room. 

I was very lucky to have a spacious room for my HQ. I needed binoculars to watch tv from the bed. I had a bath and shower. I could see the sky. Food was good in the first meal bag. Cereal, fruit, water bottle, fruit juice and soup bowl that just needed hot water. Very thoughtful considering some guests would be on morning time, some on local evening time. 

I had planned for HQ on my own, packed things to keep myself occupied, paperback books, wool for knitting, pens, paper, post it notes, diary, I loaded up my kindle with other books. I did puzzles online, took virtual tours of art galleries. I had lots of phone conversations and Facetime chats with family and friends. I exercised each day, I enjoyed the time to relaxed.

Here are some of my photos for the first four days.

More tomorrow …..

Travel Vouchers and a Road Trip

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Border restrictions and lockdowns in other states and territories within Australia are having big impacts on our hospitality and tourism businesses. 

However, Tassie folk are enjoying our beautiful island without the crowds of tourist and are doing our best to support local business. The State Government has helped with a $7.5 million Travel Voucher scheme. Anyone could register to receive $200 towards accommodation and $100 towards attractions. All entrants were put in a ballot and we were fortunate to be successful.

So last weekend we went on a road trip, staying in Launceston to explore the northern part of Tassie. 

We stayed at Peppers Silo Hotel, an unusual building repurposed from grain silos built in the 1960’s. The hotel overlooks the city, the Tamar River Basin and the North Esk River and Riverbend Park.

We explored the city on foot, appreciating the architecture, the history, art and culture in QVMAG (Queen Victoria Museum and Gallery).

We drove to a couple of vineyards, tasting the wines in on the deck on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

We also visited Beaconsfield Gold Mine and Heritage Centre. Gold was first discovered here in 1847. Underground mining began in 1879 with considerable investment and expansion. However, the mine closed in 1914 due to constant flooding. Many of the original buildings now in ruins. In 1980 work began to reopen the mine and the first ore production occurring in 1998. It remained operational until 2012. A 2 week rescue mission to reach 2 miners trapped after an earthquake induced rock collapse made international news in 2006.

Another point of interest, in 1953 Beaconsfield was the first town in Australia to add fluoride to its water supply.

Day to day life in Tassie

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Tasmania continues to be one of the safest places in the world. I’m very grateful that I live here.

We had an initial lockdown when the pandemic began but restrictions eased in June last year. 

We are covid free here. There have been no community transmission cases since May 2020. A few arrivals have tested positive, but the virus has not spread locally.

So, life is relatively free and easy.

The only places where we have to wear a mask are airports and ferry terminals, on flights or on the ferry to the mainland. Also, at festivals and some sport events, where gathering limits still apply. 

Everything is open as usual, retail, restaurants, gyms, night clubs, cinemas, theatres, casinos, weddings, household get togethers. Hand sanitiser is everywhere and actively encouraged.

We have to use the “Check In Tas” app when entering any shops, businesses, events, a taxi or public transport. It is a new habit to scan the QR code with our phones or write our name and contact details in a book at the entrance of any establishment. If or when covid does come to Tassie these track and trace capabilities are ready.

The main covid impact still in place are our border restrictions. Everyone travelling to Tasmania must complete an entry form before the journey. Travel from “high risk areas” within the country is denied. Anyone breaking this rule is fined and immediately placed in hotel quarantine. Tasmanian residents travelling from medium risk areas are allowed to return but must quarantine at home for 14 days.

Australia’s international borders remain closed. More about that in my next post.

Hello again from Tasmania

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It’s many months since I posted here but as today is the 7th anniversary of starting this blog, it seems a good time to reconnect, review and post anew.

It is also 7 years since I took redundancy from my old London city banking job. My husband and I sold our home, packed up our UK life and travelled to Tasmania for an “adult gap year”. We fell in love with this beautiful island at the bottom of Australia and made friends here. After the extended gap year, we found jobs here, bought a house and we continue to call Hobart home. 

So, to begin a “Month of Gratitude” here is a photo of snow on kunanyi/Mount Wellington taken from Bellerive Beach. I am grateful that I can walk on a beach on my way to work.

Changing Seasons – June 2020 – Lockdown eases

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June has seen a roll back of lockdown measures, here in Tasmania. At the beginning of the month, shops reopened, children returned to school, people returned to work. Social distancing of 1.5 meters remained in place.

Covid-19 precautions at work include temperature check when signing in, also new batch of hand sanitiser.
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Last Friday more restrictions eased. 500 people can gather outdoors, 250 indoors, with 1 person per 2sqm rule, thus allowing museums, galleries, restaurants, cafes, pubs, clubs to resume business. 20 visitors allowed to visit per household. Markets, food courts, garage sales, casinos, spas, swimming pools reopened. Community sport resumed.

Life feels like we’re heading back to a level of normality. Tasmania is fortunate, we have been virus free since the middle of the month and had no new cases for over 46 days.

Tasmania has used its advantage of being an island. Our borders have been closed since mid March. Anyone arriving from mainland Australia must complete 14 days quarantine, visitors in a government sponsored hotel, residents can quarantine at home. The rules are strict. So we feel safe here while we watch the news from other countries, other parts of Australia, as cases increase in some communities. Although a little worried what will happen when our borders open. Tasmania relies on tourism so it is a fine balance between economy and health risk.

We – well husband – has made this hat rack, for my one and his many hats. The wood is local Huon Pine.
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We’ve picked olives from the trees in our garden and they’re now in jars. Our first attempt at curing olives. Fingers crossed.
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I joined as group of neighbours for a productive clean up of our local coast path and beaches, one Sunday morning. We collected plastics, rope, a cushion, large piece of rubber, bubble wrap, wood. A worthwhile couple of hours.
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We’ve had some sunny winter days so have tried to get out into nature, exploring the countryside. Walks on the beach with long winter afternoon shadows. We’ve also tried to support local businesses, where possible. A visit to the local animal sanctuary, lunches out, take away coffees.
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This is my contribution to Su’s Changing Seasons.

Changing Seasons – May 2020 Autumn in lockdown

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Here in Hobart, May has been a month of autumn colours, frosty mornings, mild sunny days.
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We have been given more freedoms as lockdown rules begin to roll back. We can go out more, travel further from our homes, more shops are open and cafes and restaurants can have up to ten people seated in addition to take away meals.
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I took these photos of Hobart Waterfront. There are not usually so many fishing boats in port.
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Therefore May has also been a mixed month, with a different feel today compared to the beginning of the month.

To occupy myself, I have knitted a couple of baby strawberry hats. Here is our granddaughter. When I posted this photo I had two orders so I’m still busy with red and green wool.
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I saw this experiment so tried it for myself. Hot water in the middle of a circle of M&M’s creates a pretty rainbow. Yes I still ate the chocolates 🙂
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And I have relaxed with this fascinating book.
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As today is the last day of autumn I will close with this image of “the last leaf on the tree”.
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This is my contribution to Su’s Changing Seasons challenge.

A cold and foggy morning

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It was a beautiful morning with our local river fog, “The Bridgewater Jerry” trailing down the River Derwent. The suburbs upstream were engulfed in the fog, but from suburbs south of the Tasman bridge, the “Jerry” looked stunning in the sunlight.
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I took these photos on my way to work, from Howrah, Kangaroo Bay and Tranmere. I like that you can see Hobart City under the fog, while Mount Wellington stands tall and proud above.
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Autumn at the Botanical Gardens

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The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens reopened this week as lockdown restrictions begin to ease. Only outside areas were open “for exercise”. The shop, café and kiosk were closed. Also the Conservatory and Antarctic House.

It was a perfect autumn day to visit. Feet of all sizes had fun scrunching through the fallen leaves.
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I joined lots of people for a delightful walk around the gardens. Everyone was sensible and respectful, keeping social distance, waiting to pass on narrow paths and bridges over the lake.
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It was pleasing to see the autumn colours.
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Many of the maples in the Japanese Garden have finished their display. There were a few still putting on a show.
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Also to see what is happening in “The Patch”, as seen on Gardening Australia. Local charities maintain some beds.
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The gardeners have kept busy while the gardens have been closed.
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Changing Seasons – April 2020 in lockdown.

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April has been a full month of lockdown. Hobart’s Salamanca Place is usually a bustling market on Saturdays, surrounded by popular cafes and bars. Now it is empty except for the drive through test centre.
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I’m fortunate to still be working full time and work has been hectic, with some days in the office, others working from home. As well as formal Zoom meetings, our Deputy CEO organised a “Big Hello” meeting so colleagues from all three offices could meet online. Hats, backgrounds were optional as we waved at each other and said Hi. It was a fun ten minutes in a busy day.
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“Time is like water, if finds its own level.” Away from work, some weekends have dragged, despite walks along local coastal paths. I painted some pebbles to leave along the pathway and benches for kids to find.

I’ve spent time in the garden, planting veggie seeds and seedlings, cabbage, radish, spring onions. We are harvesting carrots, rocket, spinach and I’m on my second jar of bean sprouts. Our olive trees have fruit.

On Monday 20th April, I noticed comments on Facebook that the Aurora Australis was putting on a show. One side of our balcony faces south, so I went outside with camera in hand. I was pleased to get a few reasonable photos of the green glow in the night sky.
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I’ve drunk lots of tea and written more than usual in my diary. I have kept journals on and off for thirty years. I was happy to find new books in a local newsagent, that match earlier volumes.
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We keep in touch with family and friends and I’ve enjoyed video chats and receiving photos of our grandkids.
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I continue to feel inspired by “Action for Happiness” calendar and quotes. Here are just a couple from April.
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Stay safe. This is my contribution to Su’s Changing Seasons challenge.

ANZAC Day 2020

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At 6am this morning, ordinary people stood at the end of their driveways, lit a candle, held a minutes silence, in remembrance of all who have served in wars and conflicts.

ANZAC Day is the national Remembrance Day for Australia and New Zealand, commemorating the landings at Gallipoli on this day in 1915.

Usually, dawn services are held at local cenotaphs but such gatherings are cancelled this year. So we were encouraged to “gather as one” outside our homes.

I could see three other sets of neighbours in our small section of street. I could hear the broadcast from the National War Memorial in Canberra. I held a candle and sprig of rosemary, which grows wild on the Gallipoli peninsula and is as much a symbol of ANZAC Day as the poppy.

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Everyday musicians were asked to play “The Last Post” on any instrument.

Our daughter played her saxophone and made these lovely lanterns out of milk cartons.

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