NSW Lockdown continues!

We are now entering the 10th week of lockdown in NSW. The COVID case numbers are going up at a crazy rate and it feels like we’ll be locked down forever! In the week from 21 August to 28 August, cases have steadily climbed and now sit well above 1000. (1218 on 29/8/21) Tomorrow they may be higher or lower, who knows but either way, they’ll be too high.

Protest?

There was another attempted protest in Sydney last weekend, but it was shut down very quickly by a massive police presence. Did it lead to a spike in numbers? Probably!! I really don’t get the point of the protest? But then I’m in a position of privilege. Lockdown is not so bad for me. I have a job in an essential industry, viz education.

I still have a job, even though my days look very different now that I am working from home. I can “stay-at-home” in my own very comfortable home. I can go to my workplace a couple of times a week and see a few of my colleagues when it’s my turn to be site manager. My daily walk takes me down to the beach, past the soothing Tasman Sea and I have a shopping centre nearby that has everything I need. I like my own company and I can keep myself busy.

While I’m perplexed and annoyed when I hear about people from south-western Sydney and the LGAs of concern not sticking to the rules, I don’t live their life or have their experience. Perhaps I’m not in a position to judge? I am not living with four or more adults in the one small public housing unit with a leaking roof and dodgy plumbing. I’m not living in a crowded suburb with little green space and no expanse of ocean to calm my nerves. Under those circumstances, I’d want to get out too.

What I can’t understand though are the parties and large gatherings. A few people hanging out on a corner or lingering in the mall while they shop is one thing, but to have a deliberate gathering or attend a protest when we know the Delta Variant has an R-value of more than 1 is mind-bogglingly selfish. It prolongs the lockdown and increases the risk for everyone. 

More carrots, less sticks?

We needed a stronger start to this lockdown back in June. With the horse well and truly gone, we need the people of NSW to stick to the rules and get vaccinated. To do this the government may need to offer more carrots and fewer sticks. In 2020, many Australians received a job keeper subsidy from the Federal Government if they lost their jobs due to COVID lockdowns. This payment may well be the soma that many need to feel supported and more inclined to be passive and stay home. It may make the less-than-rosy living conditions in south-western Sydney more unbearable to those who are trapped there.

Back to School?

Return to school plans were published on Friday (27/8/21) and allow for a return to school even if stay at home orders are still in place. While the lockdown is now scheduled to end on September 30th, these return to school plans project out to early November. Does that mean the lockdown will be extended beyond the current date? Most likely. We will be lucky to get out of lockdown by November. Some schools, especially those in regional NSW are likely to return earlier. It will be mandatory for teachers and other staff to be fully vaccinated. That particular announcement has coped a bit of flack!

I think by then I will be well and truly sick of my own company! And I wouldn’t be planning anything much for Christmas except maybe an outdoor picnic!

At least Jimmy Rees is keeping us entertained! Check out his YouTube channel.

Stories from the Great Southern Road Trip Part 2: A Sudden Change of Plans.

Ten days into my Great Southern Road Trip many a cliche is leaping into my head

  • The best laid schemes of mice and men
  • If anything can go wrong it will
  • If life gives you lemons make lemonade
  • Every cloud has a silver lining

There are no doubt many others that would fit my current (first world) predicament! After much procrastination and side stepping in the last months of 2020, I went ahead with my road trip to Coastal Victoria and Tasmania. All was going well. My tent-erecting  skills were improving and my detailed planning was reaping benefits.

Going to the races was not on the original plan but it was fun!

And then the Premier of the State of Victoria declared an immediate snap five day lockdown due to increasing COVID numbers. EEEEEK what should I do?

I was very much enjoying the small town of Mallacoota which is just on the other side of the border, but I didn’t want to be stuck there for another 5 days! So I did what nearly everyone else in the caravan park did, I packed up in a hurry and hightailed it over the border before the midnight curfew.

Aslings Beach Eden, not on the original itinerary.

I cancelled all my upcoming accomodation in Victoria even those bookings beyond the proposed lifting of the lock down, because if there is nothing else we have learnt from the COVID pandemic, it’s that you need a Plan B, C and D! I didn’t want to risk getting into Tasmania.

I checked the Tasmanian border entry conditions and it seems that the best plan is to stay out of Victoria altogether. I am in a holding pattern, waiting to make a quick nonstop dash from the NSW border to the Port of Melbourne to catch the ferry to Tasmania. 

Jincumbilly: A unintended treat!

Lemonade aplenty. 

I have been able to make plenty of “lemonade” by staying in Eden and doing another long walk in Ben Boyd National Park, catching  up with friends in Berridale, doing the Main Range Loop Track walk in Kosciuszko National Park, and revisiting Braidwood. I have another couple of days to fill in and will drift back to the coast before making my way westward to Wagga. From here I will be able to drive directly to Melbourne on a single tank of petrol without needing to stop. 

Would not have done this either!

Off the bucket list.

In the scheme of things my inconvenience has been trivial. It’s not like I had to cancel my wedding like many Victorians were forced to do. My payments have all been refunded. The most disappointing cancellation has been the walk to Wilson’s Promontory to stay at the lighthouse. This was on my 60 for 60 list and now I won’t have the opportunity to do it before my birthday. I might have to extend the deadline!

Light to Light Walk.

The Light to Light walk is a 30 km (one way) route that hugs the coast in Ben Boyd National Park. The Park is on the very far south coast of NSW and near the town of Eden. Being less than 100km to the Victorian border, Eden is a “bubble town”, that is in these times of COVID, special rules apply because people in the area do business with both states. I was back in Eden unexpectedly as my Great Southern Road Trip plans were disrupted because of a COVID lockdown in Victoria. This meant I needed to scurry very quickly back to NSW or risk not being able to get into Tasmania.

Remnants of burnt trees at the Tower end

Start either end.

The walk can be tackled from either end. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service recommend it as a multi-day walk and there are several campsites along the route. They also offer a shuttle service so you can park at one end and start from the other. You can see their website for information about this.

A few days ago I did a 16 km there and back walk from the Green Cape Lighthouse to Bittangabee (Bit-tan-ga-bee) Camp Ground and today because of the change in circumstances, namely Victoria being in a 5 day snap lock down,  I did the a 20 km there and back walk from Boyds Tower. I have therefore done the two ends but not the middle sections in a pincer movement of sorts!

The walk is rated as a Grade 4 because of its length. The track is well made, mostly loose sandy soil but also some harder rocky sections. 

Green Cape Lighthouse

From Green Cape to Bitangabee

It was a cloudy, cool start to the day which was perfect for a longish walk. The goal was to get to Bitangabee and back before lunch time. With frequent photo stops, the return walk took me around 3½ hours.

Open Heathland near the Green Cape lighthouse

There are frequent waymarkers and the track map is also available on AllTrails,  although I could not find it on ViewRanger. 

From this end the track runs through coastal heath land with lots of twittering birds. I saw flashes of a greenish parrots which disappeared into the ground cover and I presume these were the vulnerable eastern ground parrot. Aside from this I also saw a small marsupial perhaps a potteroo, a wallaby, some lyrebirds, black cockatoos, bugs of various sorts and plenty of wildflowers. 

The track was a fair distance from the ocean and although there were a few ups and downs it was more or less level.

Boyds Tower to (just past) Mowarry Beach. 

On this leg, which came as an unexpected treat due to enforced changes to my holiday plans, I decided to do ten kilometres (or 3 hours whichever came first) out and then return. I was not really sure where this would get me but I thought 20 km was enough for one day. It was a much hotter day and the sky was mostly clear. 

Boyd’s Tower

Boyds Tower, built in 1847,  is a rather elegant sandstone structure that was never actually a lighthouse. Although built with the intention of being a lighthouse,  permission was never granted  and it ended up being a whale spotting tower instead. I guess Light to Light sounds much more poetic than Light to Whale Spotter! 

The track  is still relatively flat and sandy  but this area was devasted by the January 2020 fires and the ecology of the bush land, greatly changed. Catherdrals of tea-tree are burnt out remnants, weeds have taken over and there is very little shade for the first five kilometres. However on the bright side, if there could ever be a bright side to these climate change induced fires, is that the reduced vegetation has opened up expansive views of the ocean and the rocky foreshore. 

Haven for Geology Lovers

And oh what a foreshore! Geology nerds get down there! There are massive, varied colored layers of sedimentary rocks with easy-to-see folding,faulting and tilting. The base layer (or rather the lowest layer you can see) is a rich rust red with a lighter grey-green layer over it. The red is more friable than the greenish layer and there are deep cut outs where the waves have eroded the material. 

As part of the walk you cross several rocky beaches and a striking beach aptly called Red Sands Beach has small smooth red pebbles rather than sand. Mowarry Beach on the other hand has soft, squeaky white sand. The water by contrast is clear and either deep sapphire blue or ultramarine in areas where it has a white sandy bottom.

Mowarry Beach

I saw and heard fewer birds in this section of the walk but did see three large goannas and lots of locusts and dragonflies. 

There was a small asymmetrical daisy-like flower which was a haven for bees and butterflies and it seemed to be benefitting from the lack of tree cover. 

As this section had been so fire affected many of the waymarkers were missing or badly burnt and I needed to refer to the AllTrails map a few times to confirm the direction as there were some other criss crossing paths. 

Fees, toilets and that sort of stuff

Unless you already have an Annual NSW National Parks and Wildlife Park Pass, you will need to pay the park use fee of about $9 per day. If you intend on camping there are also fees for this and bookings are essential.

On the northern walk there were toilets at the Tower but no others along the route. From the south end there were toilets at the Lighthouse and then again at the campground at Bittangabee. You might want to think about carrying waste bags with you. 

You can stay at the Lighthouse (like I did) which is lovely for prices ranging from $125 – $400 per night.

There is no fresh water available for day use or campers so make sure you carry plenty. The National Park website is a good source of information.

If I had known I was going to have some extra time in this area I would have planned to do the whole walk. 

The views are certainly worth the effort!