from Anne in Adelaide, South Australia: travel time – off to the Yorke Peninsula

Black Point shack resisting the sea

December 10.‘Where are you going for Christmas?’ my friends are asking. Australian families are on the move once more. Tentatively. Within Australia.

During this year, our 8 states and territories have acted rather like different countries. Their premiers have had their year in the limelight as each one has dictated the terms of who will enter their state and what quarantine they will undergo. These restrictions should have come from uniform federal health advice but it is pretty obvious that local decision had a lot to do with a dose of aggrandisement and the proximity of elections. In all cases where the premiers have been tough and declared that they are but protecting the (especially precious) residents of their own states, their popularity has soared.

West Australia (WA), in particular, has been most reluctant to open its borders. Even one case of Covid-19 in another state, causes an immediate banning of interstate travel to WA. Premier McGowan would only open the WA border to NSW after 30 (yes, THIRTY) days of no new cases.

AND, if South Australia (SA) remains Covid-19 free for 28 days, we will be allowed into WA without having to go into quarantine for 14 days – and that will take us to midnight on Christmas Eve. Thus, all those SA people who have families in WA cannot plan to be together at Christmas. It does seem rather absurd.

Meanwhile intra-state travel and travel to states that are open (Queensland in particular) is booming. AirBnb is flat out, rates are up, December and January are almost booked out for holiday accommodation.

So, with my birthday coming up, before the schools broke up, we booked a 4-night getaway on the beach at Black Point on the Yorke Peninsula (YP). The Peninsula is foot-shaped and Black Point is almost due west of Adelaide on the eastern shore of the peninsula. We have to travel north for an hour and then south along the coast for another hour. The YP consists of flat, almost completely cleared farming land that is planted with barley, wheat, canola and lentils. In summer after the harvest, it is depressingly brown and dusty. Along the coast little towns are tucked into protected bays. Almost all have slowly collapsing jetties that once shipped grain to Adelaide.

Last November, we sold our own beach ‘shack’ at Port Julia on the YP. All Australians call their holiday homes by the sea, ‘shacks’ even if the building is brick with 5 bedrooms! We were missing our regular visits to the coast and Black Point is well known for its beautiful 3km scoop of beach, north-facing, with its back to the prevailing wind.

Basic beach shacks and rough boat sheds were built there long ago and some remain right on the beach front. But with the passing of time and the rising of the seas, planning regulations have resulted in the replacement houses being constructed about 30 meters further back on the sand dunes. So now some of the crumbling corrugated iron and board shacks remain almost on the high tide line and new huge million-dollar houses are rising further back.

our beach rental

We rented an old but renovated shack on the beach. (It did not have an outside ‘dunny’!). The verandah was on the spring high-tide line and at night the sound of the sea kept we wondering where I was.

It was lovely! Just to watch the changing face of the sea and sky from our shack was enough. I fished from my kayak for crabs (too small at the moment) and squid (more success there). We celebrated with a good bottle of champagne and grilled crayfish – bought in Adelaide (the price of crayfish is down because China has halted our exports saying our seafood is contaminated).

a birthday treat

Our children across the world phoned using Whatsapp – from Seattle, Indianapolis, Sydney and Cape Town. Life is pretty good at the moment. No complaints.

From David Maughan Brown in York: Eid Mubarak

July 31st

Wishing Muslims a blessed Eid would be usual on Eid ul-Adha, and I wish Muslims all over the world Eid Mubarak most sincerely. But the good wishes can only feel slightly hollow in parts of the North of England in the context of the reimposition of a lockdown that prevents the usual celebratory gatherings where family and friends come together to share a special meal and exchange presents.  It is like saying ‘Happy Birthday’ to someone when one knows that lockdown has stopped her from enjoying a long-planned and looked forward to celebration.  Tweeting the announcement of the reinstated regulations after 9.00pm on the evening before Eid is  closely equivalent to passing an edict prohibiting friends and family from coming for Christmas after the presents have been wrapped, the stockings hung and much of the preparation for Christmas dinner for the extended family has already been completed.   As with the government’s sudden announcement that put paid to so many summer holidays to Spain, it is the crushing disappointment of the children, in particular, that once again I feel for.

Our fresh-faced Secretary for Health and (supposedly) Social Care, Matt Hancock, has told the BBC’s Today programme that his ‘heart goes out the Muslim communities’ affected because he knows how important Eid celebrations are. He denied that the eleventh hour ban on gatherings was to stop the Eid celebrations taking place.  But he also told BBC Breakfast that ‘most of the transmission is happening between households visiting each other, and people visiting relatives and friends’ so the government had taken ‘targeted action.’   It seems only too obvious who the targets were.  

In a week in which his inimitable boss, Boris, was pulled up by the Office for Statistics Regulation for using statistics on child poverty ‘selectively, inaccurately and, ultimately misleadingly’ on three separate occasions – in other words lying – it is very difficult not to conclude that Hancock was doing his rather inadequate best to imitate the inimitable.   If he knew how important Eid celebrations are and didn’t want to target them why didn’t he wait 24 hours to impose his edict? After all, as others have pointed out, the regulations around face-coverings only came into effect ten days after they had been announced.  How many extra deaths, on top of the more than 20 thousand the government’s negligence and incompetence has already been responsible for, did ‘the science’ Hancock always claims to follow tell him a 24 hour delay would occasion?  Or was it, once again, purely presentational: having been criticised for responding too slowly to the emergence of the virus, was he demonstrating the ability to act decisively, regardless of the cost to a community from whom the Tories probably don’t expect to glean many votes anyway?  Children don’t get to vote, so they don’t matter much.