One of the big themes emerging from the past 18 months has been the general sense that people have missed the opportunity to travel for adventure, pleasure or to visit family and friends. Having a vaccine passport is seen as a big step forward towards returning to that big Aussie love: travel. Meanwhile many have been “making do” with seeing their own backyard. This has been offset by the recurring lockdowns, closed borders and anxiety about cancellations.
What covid has given me, is an opportunity to stop, think, and reassess how much travel I/we still need or want to do. We’re very fortunate that we started travelling in our twenties and have managed to visit many countries and explore on the ground by car or train. Not only have we been overseas many times, we’ve also had the opportunity to visit many of Australia’s spectacular sights. We’ve ticked off most of our remaining bucket list places in recent years: Canada, Morocco, India, Vietnam. So, overall, as discouraged as I’d be if overseas travel became a diminishing opportunity, I could survive on memories of grand adventures and amazing sights and experiences. My main bucket list wish now is to travel business class not on the increasingly cramped, shorter pitch seating of cattle class.
We’ve been luckier than most, too, with our big celebrations during and around covid. We arrived in Darwin for our 50th wedding anniversary celebration with family just as the first cruise ship passengers were being brought to the successful Howard Springs Quarantine Facility. We were able to have the low-key family-only dinner we’d planned and get photos of all our mob together. We then headed off to Singapore where Covid was being monitored and successfully managed, so that every venue we went into had temperature checks. At no point did we feel anxious about our health and safety.
Our travel celebration for the anniversary was the Golden Triangle of India, especially the Taj Mahal which we’d missed in 1977. And what a great time we had! So many amazing sights and experiences. As we toured, we laughed often at the shenanigans happening at home with supermarket depletion and toilet paper scuffles. By the time we got home and found we had two rolls in the house, it wasn’t quite so amusing. As we left India, there were mentions of some tourists having been infected with coronavirus. Sadly, our tour guide has not had work since we left in early March 2020. And of course, they’ve had such a terrible experience with the Delta variant which is now proving to Australia we’re not as safe as we thought.
We remained mostly at home on our return as a precaution for my mother’s health as she’s in Aged Care. Shortly after we went into an official lockdown. Our birthday celebration for eldest daughter was seated at our pre-sanitised picnic table by the Mooloolah river, socially distant, and eating separately wrapped packs of prawns from the co-op.
We’ve had two short breaks regionally. One in June 2020 when we had a very much needed breather on the Darling Downs where the weather was brisk and the fireplace much appreciated. Then, in March 2021, we headed to Stanthorpe where we hadn’t been since a long-ago camping trip. We did get caught a bit with that short-stay as we had been in Brisbane for a few days en route so couldn’t investigate Stanthorpe’s well-known wineries. Still, it was no hardship as the place where we stayed was wonderful and tranquil, and the fireplace was a welcome indulgence.
Eldest grandson struck it in a lucky gap when he travelled to Canberra for a special basketball comp and returned safely. Unfortunately, the national junior basketball championships to have been held in Perth in June this year were a casualty of a multi-state lockdown and closed borders.
It was not being able to visit our Darwin family again until December that was the hardest pill to swallow as we usually travel up a few times a year. Still, the quarantine gods were on our side, and we were able to spend Christmas together with the “kids” and grandkids, after having a memorable Christmas Eve dinner with our Brisbane daughter and partner. It’s always a whew moment when you get to and from your destination without any lockdown glitches these days.
Our trip in June 2021 to Alice Springs, Uluru and Kata Tjuta also successfully dodged any lockdown issues and it was a pleasure to see these quintessential Aussie icons again after so long. Tagged onto this sector was a flight to see the family again in Darwin which was lovely, and busy as always with the grandchildren’s activities. No sooner had we returned home than Darwin had its first lockdown, closely followed by Alice Springs, and border gates slamming shut at each state and territory. Once again, we had been lucky.
So here we are, double vaccinated, in a tight lockdown for a week (touch wood, no more), and staying at home apart from food and medical appointments. Mum’s Aged Care has been locked down for six of the past seven weeks so that must get lonely for her. She can no longer cope with the phone so I’m very reliant on the care of the staff who’ve been wonderful. I bought her this robotic-type cat a few months ago and apparently, it’s been a great hit, as it gives her something to cuddle, fuss over and chat to.
Who knows when we might next be able to dust off our passports and venture beyond Australia’s shores. So, roll up people, get your vaccines and let’s get on with it. It was so frustrating too, to know there was an amazing Chihuly exhibition on at Garden by the Bay in Singapore which would have been an easy short jaunt normally but sadly not at present. Next on my wish list is a business class flight to Scotland to do a drive around the coast then visit the Shetlands. I’d love to see the gardens of Japan but will survive if I have to do that as a virtual trip. Meanwhile I’ll be satisfied with family visits and regional short stays. Overall, I’m very grateful for the many travel opportunities I’ve had in my lifetime. Never in my wildest dreams as a child would I have imagined how many wonderful places I’d see.
How about you? Are you chafing at the bit to travel overseas again or are you exploring our own backyard?