Getting Yourself Lost

Which way now?

So, fourteen months or so on, where are we? The pandemic has certainly turned our lives upside down. Everybody’s experience of it is a little different. So let me concentrate here on mine.

I live in one of the more fortunate countries. Perhaps you do too. Thanks to the timely action of our State Governments, of both political persuasions, we are in a safe space as regards Covid. Touch wood. It’s not over till the fat lady sings. Things could still go pear shaped from this point, particularly if (1) we don’t all get vaccinated asap, and/or (2) our quarantine system turns out to be unfit for purpose.

Mr Morrison likes to say that 99% – I think that’s the figure – of quarantines have been successful. This may be true, but it is the wrong statistic to be looking at in the circumstances of a pandemic. The 1% of failures, small though it may seem, is what matters. That 1% has lead to upwards of twenty instances of lock-down, including the very ugly one that went on to be the ‘second wave’ in Victoria mid 2020. Day by day, it’s becoming apparent that hotel quarantine will not cut the mustard, and that dedicated quarantine facilities with lots of fresh air and open space will be required.

So, how should I react given this is how the cookie crumbles? Perhaps I am being excessively cautious, but I am not at all inclined to leave Queensland yet. I don’t want to find myself unable to return home from whatever foreign country or State of Australia I might choose to visit. We’ve seen how the Australian Government chooses to treat its own citizens trapped overseas.

Don’t misunderstand me. There are countries in south-east and east Asia I would dearly love to visit, among them Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, and Taiwan. But even if bubbles were to open to them tomorrow, as one has recently for New Zealand, I would not rush out and book tickets. I know it doesn’t sound at all charitable, but I would let other less cautious people test the waters for me. I would leave it for at least a year to see how the land lay, leaving – in the meantime – others to take the risks.

I’m not even inclined yet to visit other States. Queensland, where I live, is a very large State, and I haven’t yet visited every part of it. And there are parts of it I could visit again, again, and again. I mean Winton, the Atherton Tablelands, the Daintree, Eungella, Lamington, and certain other very special places.

So, I will set out on another Queensland road trip with my partner, Janet. I have prepared an itinerary and started making the bookings already. We will be away from 26 July to 1 Sept. In some places, advance bookings are unnecessary but I’ll make them anyway where I can. In other places, we won’t get accommodation without an advance booking. Winton is an example, where, even 3 months in advance, I had to settle for my 4th choice of accommodation.

There is a wonderful feeling I get when, having set out on a substantial road trip, I cruise the outback roads with few distractions to get in the way of the natural attributes of the countryside. The air, clean and dry, is about as healthy as air can get. The landscape is mostly as flat as a plate. The sky is clear blue with, perhaps, the tiniest hint of cloud should you look hard. The people are utterly disarming, and in no way tricky, as city people can sometimes be.

Hell. I can’t wait to set out. Bring it on.