The hotel hosted a challenge to create something from the meal bags. I made use of the metal lamp that was in my room. It was a perfect shape for my gum tree. The leaves moved in the air conditioning.
I enjoyed knitting these colourful cosy socks.
The only people I saw during the 14 days were nurses for a covid test on day 2 and day 12, then a doctor with police escort on day 13 who confirmed negative test result and gave me a letter authorising my check out on the final day. It was exciting getting the wristband which eased the check-out process.
Although it’s been mandatory, this quarantine has been a good experience, a retreat, time to reflect and recharge after a hectic and intense year.
Although I was able to get a flight out of Australia within a day, it took me 3 months to get back.
Government limits on international arrivals means there are few commercial airlines actually flying to Australia, those that are flying can only have 30 or 40 passengers on each flight. Flights were cancelled or rescheduled as quotas were reduced by the government. A ludicrous situation.
On 10th December the earliest Business Class seat I could get was on 25th January. That flight got cancelled. The next available seat was 4th March. I had to pay £ 4,500 again, waiting weeks for the refund of the cancelled original booking. Ironically it was cheaper to get a return ticket One way to Sydney was over £5,000. Economy tickets were even more scarce.
The 4th March flight was also cancelled. Fortunately, my UK travel agent was able to move my booking to a flight on 9th March. Third time lucky.
I celebrated with a few glasses of bubbles and enjoyed the full Business Class experience. Heathrow long haul departures was empty.
Thousands of Australian Citizens have struggled to get home in the past 18 months. There are still 38,500 Aussies stranded overseas.
Behind this number are real people, living in highly stressful situations of uncertainty, financial impact, juggling employment, housing when expected departure dates keep changing. Missing family and friends, missing the big life events.
I was fortunate to have a house to live in, have financial stability, have a job I could do remotely and have my daughter staying with me.
The sale of Mum’s house was going smoothly but the logistics of actually clearing the house and moving out, getting specific PCR tests within 72 hours of flight, was a leap of faith, knowing that flight could still be cancelled at the last minute. It was a very tense time.
Government repatriation flights were few and expensive. For many people, they have been a last resort after multiple cancellations.
I know that we chose to live in an ex-convict settlement, but I never expect to be Locked Inside Australia, unable to leave without Government permission. That has been the reality for 18 months.
This is my experience of leaving Australia in November 2020…..
I had to get permission to leave Australia due to the total travel ban. My dual nationality helped me get permission on compassionate grounds.
At the airport, the check-in clerk had to phone the government department in Canberra to confirm each passenger. I knew there would be mandatory 14 day hotel quarantine on my return.
I arrived at Heathrow and walked straight out. No one checked where I had come from. No one said anything about quarantine or self-isolation. No one checked that I had completed the UK “Passenger Locator Form”.
Sydney had 9 international flights leaving in a 12 hour period. Flights were almost empty.
Airport was like a ghost town. Only a handful of food outlets open. A couple of shops to buy books, magazines, etc. One Duty Free shop open. All designer shops were closed and empty of all stock, abandoned spaces.
Flights were the best I’ve ever taken. I had 18 seats to myself in economy. No queues for the toilets.
Passenger gift bag had no socks or eye mask, but face mask, hand sanitizer and anti-bac wipes. Face masks were mandatory, even when seated.
Australia’s Hotel Quarantine is 14 days locked in a hotel room. Some hotels had balconies but mine didn’t, so no fresh air. Eye drops helped with the constant air conditioning.
3 times a day there was a knock and a meal bag left outside the door. We had to wear a mask to open the door and wait a couple of minutes, so I never saw the delivery person.
The food was actually very good, tasty healthy meals, plenty of vegetables, salads and fruits.
A valuable tip was to take my own cutlery, plate and sharp knife. I was grateful that I followed this suggestion as plating up the meals rather than eating from the carboard or plastic containers made a big difference.
We had a daily phone call from a nurse, to check how we were doing, our physical and mental health.
On Day 6 my daughter SE dropped off a parcel for me. She and the grandkids then waved to me from the street below my 11th floor window. Such a lovely surprise. I had kid art to brighten up my walls, plus other treats. Flowers from my husband. The days passed by.
Our granddaughter was 8 months old when we met her for the first time. In normal times I would have been in Sydney for her birth, just a 2 hour flight away, but Covid-19 changed everything.
In November last year, when Australia’s internal borders finally opened, we visited our family and celebrated all the events we had missed – my 60th, our daughter’s 30th birthday, two other birthdays plus our grandson’s 3rd. And the birth of our gorgeous granddaughter. We had a big party, with all the banners. We enjoyed days out and the ordinary times at home.
Then I got “the call”. My Mum was seriously ill in the UK and I needed to get there. She’d been unwell with a short cancer diagnosis, she had support locally, with UK lockdown, no hospital visitors, it was a tough decision when to travel. I had already requested a “Travel Restriction Exemption” from the Australian Government which had been granted. Fortunately, I had taken my passports to Sydney so I booked a one way ticket online and was on a flight within ours.
My daughter CM met me at Heathrow with a spare winter coat. Mum passed away peacefully. Despite the sadness there were many things to celebrate.
CM stayed with me at Mum’s house and helped with all the tasks required to wind up a person’s life. Even with UK lockdown we were able to have twenty five family and friends at her funeral to commemorate her 87 years, her independent and generous spirit. God Bless you Mum, thanks for all the memories.
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.