In the Freezer

When this most recent bout of COVID lockdown started in the Greater Sydney Area in June 2021, I decided that I was not going to go shopping until I emptied my freezer and pantry. This solved several problems. I was able to avoid the germy world while using up resources that had already been created and thus reduce food waste. I figured I had enough leftovers, frozen veggies and pantry staples that it would not be too much of a challenge. 

UFOs

Step 1 was to do an archeological dig and conduct a freezer audit.  I threw out the UFOs (unidentifiable food objects) that were suffering from freezer burn and no longer edible. The rest of the containers were stacked in neat piles and I retrofitted some labels. Labelling should be mandatory but it is a step that I approach with annoying inconsistency. Present-Robyn has way too much faith in Future-Robyn’s ability to identify the blocks of various curries and casseroles. 

Resourceful use of some freezer items – frozen raspberries became jam.

Meal planning is one of my happy places and when I cook I generally make 4 – 6 serves. Eat one for dinner, put one in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch and then the remainder in the freezer for “later”. The trouble is I have a tendency to delay the later. Rather than cook a couple of nights a week, I cook every night, until my freezer is full and I have run out of containers.  There is a direct inverse relationship between my Tupperware cupboard and my freezer. The fuller the freezer (VF = volume of the freezer contents)  the emptier the Tupperware cupboard. (VT)

VF = 1/VT

Mission accomplished

This propensity for food hoarding has paid off over the lockdown and I have for the most part avoided the germy world of supermarkets. After 6 weeks, I have finally extracted the last of the pre-prepared meals. (Yippee!)

My quest has not been 100% successful as I was forced to seek out some fresh fruit to avoid scurvy (and boredom).  In addition to the fruit, I purchased fresh milk as needed but apart from this, I have made do with what I had. The freezer is not yet completely empty as I still have some frozen pastry sheets some bread and a few other odds and ends, but I can see the bottom. An astonishing feat. I still have a way to go to empty the pantry but that’s OK we’re under stay at home health orders until the 28th August at least.

With an empty freezer, I can start work on the pantry! Hallelujah! Tomorrow, I can cook again! 

Oh wait! That means I’ll have to go shopping and face the germy world, lucky I’m fully vaccinated!

Using up an old cauliflower.

Lockdown in Greater Sydney

Wentworth Emporium

Sydney, or more correctly “Greater Sydney” is in lockdown again. Greater Sydney includes the commutable urbanised areas that fringe the sprawling metropolis of Sydney. Not extending as far as Newcastle, but encompassing Wollongong, and Shellharbour to the south, the Central Coast to the north and the Blue Mountain,  westward.  

The Greater Sydney area is home to 5/8th of the population of New South Wales and nearly a fifth of the total population of Australia. The lockdown came into effect on the first Saturday of the winter school holidays. Once again plans of going anywhere went out the window for many families. It was due to end on the last Friday of the holidays but it has been extended until the 16th July. Watching the numbers, we all know it will go well beyond that. 

The lockdown has been extended until at least 16 July, but given the numbers it will be well beyond that.
Source: ABC News

Like Melbourne before us.

Melbourne has had a number of stints in solo lockdown. At the time, I wondered what they were doing that was so different to the rest of the country. Was it their good public transport? Did the fact that more people were on  public transport rather than travelling solo in cars make a difference? Was it because it was colder down there and more people were indoors? 

After the last few weeks in “soft lockdown” I think I have more of an idea.  We are ignoring the stay at home orders. When the whole world was in lockdown last year it was new and scary and we all took it very seriously. But a single city tucked up in its own borders does not have the same scary overtones.  People are still way too out and about. My exercise walk route takes in Wollongong Harbour. Last weekend at around 11 AM it was business as usual! Lockdown? What lockdown? People were sitting around in the sunshine eating their takeaway gelato and sipping their take away coffee cheek by jowl with most of the population of Wollongong. No one exercising here! Stay at home orders mustn’t count on sunny days. Wollongong had not had any cases (yet) so we must be immune??

Is the soft lockdown too soft?

Soft lockdown means that many shops are still open. Pubs, restaurants, and cafes are closed for anything other than take away. Places like cinemas etc are closed, Hairdressers, and beauticians are closed. Supermarkets are open. But strangely,  the handbag shop in the mall is still open. The clothes shops are open. The vape shop. You can’t tell me these shops are essential. 

There are movement and gathering restrictions in place which have progressively tightened over the week as case numbers have continued to rise. Now only 2 people are allowed to exercise together, except those from the same household. Only one person is allowed to go shopping and only once a day. (Make that list!!)

Masks are mandatory for all people over twelve in indoor areas. And now we have moved to remote learning for students in the Greater Sydney area. This came as no real surprise. Teachers by and large have been preparing for a “just in case” scenario since last year. Many teachers have kept their online classrooms running. They have shifted their resources to accessible drives in the clouds. Learning from home was do-able.  but then…..

Queue suspenseful music: Dun-dun-der!

Learning from home becomes complicated!

About an hour after Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the Learning from Home orders for the Greater Sydney area, the NSW Department of Education was hit by a massive cyber attack. All those resources we had squirrelled away in the safe places linked to our portal were inaccessible! We were paralyised to get lessons ready. Email was down. Links to our corporate accounts for Zoom, MS Teams, the Google Suite, Microsoft365 were down. Everything we used our department user name for was turned off, as the tech bods tried to fix the damage. 

It took until Sunday to get most things working. Let’s put that in perspective. Those people worked hard! The NSW Department of Education is one of the BIGGEST educational systems in the WORLD. With over 2000 schools, more than 50,000 teachers and in excess of 800,000 students all managed by the one system, that’s a big job and I take my hat off to them for getting it up and running so quickly!

Time to get hard?

The numbers were unexpectedly a bit lower today (only 89 new cases compared to 112 on Monday), but still high enough. The Police will be more visible telling people to go home. But still the soft option persists. Come on Gladys, we don’t need handbags in a lockdown. Let’s close the other non-essential shops. Go hard! Keep people at home!

Stay home, stay safe. 

PS: Gladys must have read my post! On Saturday, 17th she announced further restrictions in place until 30/7/21. The non-essential shops are now closed. Non-urgent construction has also been shut down.

Well done Gladys!

Geology Part 2 – Stories from the Great Southern Road Trip

Road sign saying Geology Point

Geology Nerd – Part 2 – Tasmania

This post is the second of a two part series about some of the geology and geological formations I encountered on my recent road trip across the south-east of Australia. Part 1 included those features seen in NSW. After scooting through Victoria as quick as I could because of concerns related to a five day COVID lock down I boarded the Spirit of Tasmania with my trusty Suby and all my camping gear.

Once off the ferry, it didn’t take long before I started to see some interesting things rock-wise. The descriptions are listed in the order I visited them.

Do rivers count as geology?

The first thing to catch my eye while driving from Devonport to Launceston was the Rubicon River. I’m not really sure if riverine vegetation counts as geology but what the heck! The islands of grass made sinuous patterns in the slow-flowing water. After a little investigation, it seems that these clumps of grass are in fact an invasive species called rice grass. There is a federally funded program to help eradicate it.

Geology - Islands of grass in the Rubicon River Tasmania
Rubicon River – Islands of Grass.

Bakers Beach – Narawantapu National Park

My first glimpse of Tasmania’s famous orange boulders was on a grey day. A fine mist of drizzle was fogging up my lens. The rocks are orange because they are clothed in red-orange fuzz formed by the symbiotic relationship between lichen and fungi. The boulders are granite and their smooth rounded shapes are easy to scramble over. There were orange rocks at almost every beach I visited. The shape and size of the boulders and the size of their crystals varied a lot but the colours remained fairly consistent.

Orange granit boulders next to blue water
Bakers Beach my first glimpse of the ubiquitous orange rocks of Tassie.

Cradle Mountain National Park

While there are no glaciers in Australia these days there is plenty of evidence of their existence in the Cradle Mountain National Park. This area is spectacular, with large outcrops of granite-like dolerite. The craggy, jagged peaks make excellent photographic subjects and the area is one of the busiest tourist destinations in Tasmania. There are lots of walks in the area from short strolls to the arduous 6 day Overland Track. If you are not up for this long walk there is a 13 km Cradle Mountain Summit Walk.

The solid geology of Cradle Mountain has been described by many! This snippet is from a detailed report by I R Jennings. I could not find a date for the actual publication but the date on a map says November 1958. If you’d like more detail it’s an easy read despite the length.

Simple… realy

Barn Bluff, although looking very much like a volcanic plug is the result of extensive weathering of the dolerite intrusions.

Geology Bonanza! Flinders Island

What a treat Flinders Island is! A feast of geology and all on a very small plate as it were. I spent four days on Flinders and I am so glad I did. There is a geotrail! Imagine me doing a merry little dance and clapping my hands when I saw the first sign! I really recommend having a look at the website before you visit. Also, see my previous post about my visit.

Choose from red lichen coated rocks, massive boulders in the middle of paddocks, a summit climb, pegmatites and more! There’s topaz for those who like to fossick, plenty of sandy beaches and shallow coastal lagoons. Sigh!

The thing that got me really excited were the pegmatites (really really big crystals) at Killecrankie on the northern end of the island. How big? BIG! For reference, I included an Australian 50 cent coin that has a diameter of 31 mm. Super big crystals of course mean super slow cooling of the molten lava below the surface.

Marakoopa and King Solomon Caves – Mole Creek

The Mole Creek Karst Conservation Area has hundreds of caves. Some are open to the general public and others are open only to experienced spelunkers. When you book they tell you to dress warmly and you should! The caves stay at a steady 9oC throughout the year. I did a tour of both Marakoopa and King Solomon Caves. Marakoopa has an underground creek and glow worms while King Solomon’s Cave has larger caverns. “Discovered” by Europeans in the mid-1800s it has been a popular tourist destination ever since. The cave tours are led by interesting guides. Due to COVID restrictions, the numbers were very low which, in my opinion, enhanced the experience. You’ll need a camera with an adjustable ISO because flash photography is not permitted.

Alum Cliffs

Always on the look out for a good walk, long or short – I stopped to check out Alum Cliffs. It’s included in Tasmania’s 60 best short walks. It is only a 1.6 km return walk. At the end of the wooded path you suddenly come out to a platform which is perched 200 m above the Mersey River below. Take care if you suffer from vertigo.

Tulampanga, the Aboriginal name for Alum Cliffs, remains ​a place of particular significance to Aborigines because of the ochre found nearby. Along the walk there are sculptures and pieces of outdoor furniture, some created by local Aboriginal artists. 

https://parks.tas.gov.au/things-to-do/60-great-short-walks/alum-cliffs
Alum Cliffs

The Nut – Stanley

The Nut, an ancient volcanic plug, dominates the town of Stanley. You can climb or drive to the top or if you’re a bit braver, ride the chair lift. Chair lifts freak me out a bit! Generally, I am not scared of heights per se, but chairs lifts… shiver…..There is a 2.4 km loop walk up the top which gives you great views of the town below.

Fossil Bluff – Wynyard

And finally fossils! Plenty of them too! Fossil Bluff is on the western side of Wynyard which is in north west Tasmania. So much of geology to see here! Layers of marine fossils, boulders and a rocky beach.

Bit of wind noise sorry…