Scaring the People into Lock-down

Final Word – Before Lock-down.

When it comes to this virus garbage, I don’t buy it. None of it. Well, hardly any of it. The powers that be are using it as a smoke-screen for other things. What exactly, I cannot tell you as I do not own a crystal ball (or know how to use one). No doubt this will all become apparent in due course. Meanwhile, here in New South Wales, there are more new rules to be obeyed…

Don’t be afraid…

The worst part for me is how they have used this virus to scare people. That is totally unacceptable. With the help of the mass media they have done a bloody good job of frightening the shit out of most people. If you read any of my articles on this scare ‘panic-demic’ you will see that I try to do the opposite. Almost belittling the threat. At least it may appear that way – but not really.

It is not that I am totally unafraid. I am one of the lucky few who has never had the flu (of any kind). Every time they come out with a new scare story, about some new strain that will wipe out x million people world-wide, I do stop and think. Maybe this is the one for me! I will get this flu this one time and the little fucker will finish me off.

But you can’t live your life hiding from something that you cannot see, hear or feel in any way – until you have it (I guess). I fully understand for the elderly or most vulnerable. But how many of those are there? It should certainly not be taking over the lives of everyone. Normality has to be the priority in these cases not hiding away and shutting down whole countries.

Breaking News

The New South Wales government passed new rules last night which effectively put people on lock-down – in everything but name. With some pretty severe punishments if you don’t abide by the rules. However, there are sixteen (16) caveats, nicely referred to as “reasonable excuses” – see below. Reading through the list it does seem as though there is scope for manoeuvre here. It looks like a test of how well you can blag it out with the cops then…

For the record, here’s the full list of reasonable excuses:

  1. Obtaining food or other goods or services for the personal needs of the household or other household purposes (including for pets) and for vulnerable persons
  2. Travelling for the purposes of work if the person cannot work from the person’s place of residence
  3. Travelling for the purposes of attending childcare (including picking up or dropping another person at childcare)
  4. Travelling for the purposes of facilitating attendance at a school or other educational institution if the person attending the school or institution cannot learn from the person’s place of residence
  5. Exercising
  6. Obtaining medical care or supplies or health supplies or fulfilling carer’s responsibilities
  7. Attending a wedding or a funeral
  8. Moving to a new place of residence (including a business moving to new premises) or between different places of residence of the person or inspecting a potential new place of residence
  9. Providing care or assistance (including personal care) to a vulnerable person or providing emergency assistance
  10. Donating blood
  11. Undertaking any legal obligations
  12. Accessing public services (whether provided by Government, a private provider or a non-Government organisation), including social services, employment services, domestic violence services, mental health services, and services provided to victims (including as victims of crime)
  13. For children who do not live in the same household as their parents or siblings or one of their parents or siblings — continuing existing arrangements for access to, and contact between, parents and children or siblings
  14. For a person who is a priest, minister of religion or member of a religious order going to the person’s place of worship or providing pastoral care to another person
  15. Avoiding injury or illness or to escape a risk of harm
  16. For emergencies or compassionate reasons.

Numbers 1 and 5 look good to me. But with fines of $11,000 or six months’ jail? it’s a bit of a gamble…Watch this space…

Coronavirus – The Curious Case of Australia

The Curious Case of Oz

For some reason Australia seems to be bucking the trend to completely lock-down its population. That’s not a bad thing, but there are some odd peculiarities about Australia’s response and reaction to the current global panic-demic. Curious to say the least…

Australia should be in as bad a state as anywhere. Given the number of Chinese who live here and visited family in China over the kids’ summer holidays back in December 2019 and January 2020. If only a small fraction of the stuff that has been put out by the media (both mainstream and ‘social’) is to be believed, then Australia should be in deep. Yet the numbers of cases of coronavirus (and related deaths) refuse to go through the roof over here. Why is that?

Here is one theory.

Every year it is claimed that between 1500 and 3000 die of the (normal) flu here. In 2019 Australia actually had a fairly serious seasonal winter flu outbreak. That flu season ended in about October, only two months before coronavirus hit the news. It turned out that the 2019 flu season was not as bad as another outbreak in 2017 but it was still considered a biggy.

Could it be that most Aussies have been toughened up by recent flu? Two big flu seasons in the last two and a half years may have just made all the difference.

The government is stubbornly refusing to go into full lock-down. Holding out, it seems, as long as possible. What are they waiting for? Every other (western) country has totally panicked and gone for it. In that respect (at least) there is nothing to be ashamed of. Are they really that brave? Are they really not falling for all the doom scaremongering like the countries in Europe have (for example)?

Waiting for that rise? Or Worse?

Could it be that they are just waiting for the statistics to rise? Worse still, have they been (almost) trying to increase the numbers of infected by allowing the situation to fester? If you think that is a crazy accusation, then look at some of the recent actions and/or knee-jerk responses…

  • Flights from all the supposedly high-risk countries were allowed to continue until very recently. The same goes for foreign nationals arriving from these places.
  • No quarantine for arrivals from (supposedly) infected areas such as China, Europe and Middle East until just now.
  • Suddenly (only yesterday) deciding to quarantine all flight arrivals in hotels! How many hotel beds are there in and around Sydney airport? Anyone know? Because within the 14-day quarantine period, at present rates of arrivals, they could well need over ten thousand rooms! (see below for more analysis on this). And who is going to clean them all -properly- afterwards?
  • Allowing cruise ships with known cases of the virus to dock in city centres and disembark thousands of tourists who would be either infected or potential carriers.
  • First allowing some schools to close then telling them to re-open. Then telling parents to keep their kids at home but making it ‘clear’ that schools will remain open.

It is hard to see what they have achieved or hoped to achieve with some of these actions.

What the hell are they waiting for?

So, what are they waiting for? Any ideas? Is there some magical number of confirmed cases required before they say “Aha. See; we told you what would happen. Now we are locking you in your homes until further notice.”

Or is there a death count figure they need to reach? It really is a curious case in Oz.

In some ways what the government here has already done is as bad as total lock-down. I mean closing the beaches! It couldn’t get any more un-Australian could it? I am sure there are plenty here who would accept lock-down if their one permitted daily exercise was a walk to the beach. Taking into account ‘safe social distancing’ of course. That would include surfing,  which naturally requires keeping a safe distance.

It seems people are already getting fed up. Before they even lock them up! So why don’t they just get it over with?

Fortune Favours the Brave

On the other hand, this could all be seen as a good thing. Maybe the Australian government is actually trying to tough this one out. If they can hang on in there for just a couple more weeks, the countries in Europe may declare the virus is on the way out and lift their totalitarian, martial law rules. Then Australians do not have to follow the trend like sheep.

I am not very optimistic when it comes to politicians, and I have been expecting a lock-down any day now for well over a week. But maybe, just maybe this is what is happening. If I am correct (and I hope I am) then the present Prime Minister could become the biggest Aussie hero of all time. The man who went against the global mass hysteria and won. The bloke who held his nerve. The world leader who rode the wave of bullshit and came out clean. Suffice to say I won’t be holding my breath on that one…

Doing the Maths…

OK folks. No rocket science here, just simple arithmetic. Working on a 14 day (2 week) quarantine period here is a reasonable example:
On the first day of quarantined flight arrivals (last night) the police stated there were some 1500 people put into hotels near the airport. They expected a similar number on day 2. If the average number for the first week is say, 1200, then that makes 7 x 1200 = 8,400.
The second week, just before the first lot of arrivals can be allowed out, would be a 6-day period. Let’s assume the numbers would be less as most would have got back home during the first week. Say, 800 per day on average; 6 X 800 = 4000. Total needing quarantine will be about 12,400.

There are simply nowhere near enough hotels in any one area to house so many people (in this case near the airport and without encroaching into residential areas and the city). There are about 14 large hotels in that area which have on average about 150 rooms. (Many have large suites but you cannot mix people as it defeats the object of quarantine. Some arrivals may find themselves with a lot of space!) That makes for approximately 14 x 150 = 2,100 rooms. Way short of the required number. And who is going to pay for all this? Free meals and hotel rooms for two weeks?

As usual the numbers do not make sense and the ability to cope with such numbers just does not stack up.

On the plus side however, if you feel like putting your feet up and having two weeks of free meals you could always turn up at the airport (with luggage) and pretend to have just arrived. Simply hover around the “Arrivals” door looking lost. The wonderfully kind Australian border staff and police will escort you to your hotel room – free of charge! And I am sure there will be toilet paper!

Jervis Bay – Day 2.

After a long and active day out yesterday we almost took it easy today.

Walking on Water

We only visited three or four beaches and a freshwater lake called St. Georges Basin. The lake is almost impossibly shallow for some way out that you can almost appear to be walking on water. See the photo below of Dani and his dad “walking on water”.

Walking on Water

Beach Checklist

You could make a list of beaches in this area and spend a good fortnight’s holiday just visiting them all. Most of them are superb and have the same fantastic white sand as Hymans Beach (see yesterdays blog post).

Today we visited Shark Net Beach (not as scary as it sounds) and walked around the point to Huskisson Beach. Later we drove to Callala Beach and spent some time in the sea. The sand on Callala Beach is as good as Hymans but there is a great deal of seaweed on this shore and this gets washed up and dries out. So, while Hymans Beach has long undisturbed whiteness, Callala Beach in comparison appears speckled – almost in need of a sweeping. Still great though as there was hardly anyone around. Then it was off for a picnic on the nearby Callala Bay beach.

Return to Sydney

Sadly, a great ‘free’ weekend was almost over and it was time to return to Sydney. When we returned to the city it wasn’t with a sense of impending doom. It was more a quiet resignation. Reluctant acceptance of our fate.

And yet…

Lock-down is still (somehow) not a reality here. The government are doing all they can to postpone the inevitable it seems. Now they are saying that gatherings of more than two people are not allowed outside. While at the same time closing parks and public open spaces. This will effectively confine most people to their homes. However, schools are to remain open. Amazing really, but what can you do? It’s the blind leading the blind anyway so who cares?

I am trying to look beyond all this nonsense. But I have a clear feeling that things may never be quite the same after this farce is over.

The Last Weekend of Freedom? – Out of the City (again)

Off to Jervis Bay

It was a gamble as the government could have imposed a lock-down at any time. It seems that lock-down will come when we return to town on Sunday. ‘Fortune favours the brave’ they say. Well in this case it was just as well we took a chance and booked to get out of the city. For the time of year, this area was teaming with people, many doing the exact same thing.

And what a first day…

Final weekend of freedom.

Jervis Bay is about two and a half hour drive from central Sydney. Basically, just head south. The bay itself covers quite an area so several small holiday towns and villages have grown up in the area. It was more a case of what was available last minute, so we ended up staying in Huskisson Beach – one of many fabulous beaches in the bay area. It couldn’t have been better if I had planned it (properly!).

We stayed in one of these colourful little beach front (almost) cabins. Ours was the Blue one.

Welcome Greeting

No sooner had we checked in than this little fella came to say hello. Right on our little terrace, he hardly flinched as I got right up close for the pictures. Staring me down at one point. This is the Laughing Kookaburra. An Aussie character if ever there was one. Part of the kingfisher family it has that same body and beak shape but much larger than other kingfishers. This one was about 35cm long.

Kookaburra

The maniacal, laughing call that this bird makes is one you never forget. Early settlers quickly called it ‘the bushman’s alarm clock’.

There are other creatures in the sky here. In their plenty. Large bats (or flying foxes). As the sun dropped there must have been thousands of the things taking to the air. A ‘colony or ‘cloud’ of bats is the term used. Quite a sight but not easy to photograph with a mobile phone.

Beaches

This area is famous for two things. One is obvious as soon as you arrive and look to the water. The beaches really are incredible.

The other thing is not so obvious. It turns out that this area is the second most popular diving location in Australia. No prizes for guessing the first. I suppose somewhere else has to be good for diving in this huge country. Even if that is a distant second.

We visited Hyman’s beach. Said to be the whitest sand in the world. Some claim. How the hell do they work these things out? I wouldn’t know but I am sure this has been examined in detail by those who write the travel guides etc…

Hyman’s Beach
Typical view from the roadside in these parts

The sand was white. I may have seen sand that white before but really can’t remember. All the beaches around here seem to be like this though. It was a fantastic beach and around here we are still allowed onto it. At least for now.

After the beach we went into the local town. More a village really. There are whale-watching tours (but now is not the season) and dolphin watching tours from Huskisson. The problem is that no tours are running right now. Not to worry. We managed a self-guided tour of a mangrove swamp which proved more interesting than I expected.

We also saw this place…. How is this for nostalgia?

Huskisson Picture House

This picture house (cinema) has been showing films for over 70 years in Huskisson. Unfortunately, this too has been closed because of the virus fiasco. When this thing is over, we will be back. I really want to see inside this fantastic relic of the past.

More great Australian birds…

We also had more feathered visitors. These fantastically coloured rascals are called rainbow lorakeets. Probably the most unmistakable bird I have seen so far in this country. They have thrived in all sorts of habitats and are widely seen in the city also.

Dani finally meets Skippy

As if all that wasn’t enough, we found a spot to see kangaroos. Dani’s mum had just read about it on some google thing or other. Dani was tired but this one kept him going. We spotted a large gathering of kangaroos but had to walk a little to get up close. How close can get to these creatures? I think we could have got closer, but you never know eh. It was close enough for Dani’s first ‘roo’ encounter and close enough for a few photos.

We finished the day with some great fish and chips from a place called ‘World Famous Fish and Chips’. Say no more. That was a bold claim to live up to. But they managed.

All in all, a fantastic day and we are all knackered. But we need to be up early again tomorrow to make the most of our time in this area. Especially as we have to go back to Sydney….and the impending lock-down…Ugh! I want to stay here…

It’s Lock-down Time in Oz Folks!

Arrest or House Arrest? That’s the choice…

Either way folks, you are under arrest!

There will be no escape to the country this weekend from what I have heard. They plan to lock us down from Friday. Put us all under house arrest. What did we all do to deserve it? I have no idea. But we cannot be trusted apparently. That said, I have taken a chance and booked a place for the weekend, a few hours drive away. We intend to get out while we can. We shall see…

What can you do?

While this threat of lock-down has been hanging over us like the sword of Damocles, I have been thinking. What can I do before they arrest me? How far can I go? I think in the interest of historical research I should at least make an effort to find out.

What will you say in the near future when your kids ask you; “What did you do in the totalitarian coronavirus lock-down dad?” (Obviously only once they are old enough to understand the word ‘totalitarian’.)

I would like to think I can hold my head up high and say: “Well son. It’s like this. Some of us made a stand. Those of us who knew all this was a load of crap just went out for regular walks to relieve the monotony. We did not fear something that we could not even see. We were brave and tried to live as normal a life as we could.”

All of those wise words will be spoken during prison visiting hour of course. Because like it or not the police, the authorities, indeed the whole shower, will clamp down hard on normally law-abiding citizens like myself if we attempt to rock the boat. How dare we show no fear?

It will soon become illegal to be unafraid. Think about that for a moment. Quite scary in itself eh? So much in fact it is frightening me. How ironic!

Remember this…

Just remember that the idiots imposing all this unnecessary pain on us are the same idiots who: (*)

  1. Allowed thousands of tourists on (several) cruise ships to disembark right in the city centre when the ships were known to be infected with this virus.
  2. Gave the grotesquely ambiguous message to worried parents, saying things like: “To clarify (what?) the situation we encourage parents to keep their kids at home, but schools will remain open”.
  3. Waited over two months to stop flights from China. Or so they said! In reality flights are still landing from China and the middle east.
  4. Agreed to pay some two hundred thousand lazy, work-shy people on the dole, $750 each in an effort to prevent the economy stalling. Then (as if that alone was not bad enough) locked them up in their own homes so they could not go out and spend it!
  5. Used taxpayers’ money for a skywriter to use his plane and write “WASH HANDS” in the sky above the city, thereby triggering the panic-buying of hand sanitiser.
  6. Etc…etc…

*  Adjust these points to suit your own country of residence. There will be similar tales in each and every country that has been locked down.

Ask yourself. Do you trust these people? Should you continue to trust them?

Ah well, nowhere to go so back to bed I suppose…

Footnote: (I like to keep these things educational)
The Sword of Damocles:
Damocles worked in the court of king Dionysius II of Syracuse, in 4th-century BC Sicily. He wanted to swap place with the king and enjoy all the luxuries. But Dionysius had made many enemies during his reign, and arranged for a huge sword to be hung above the throne, held only by a single hair of a horse’s tail. This was to show Damocles what it is like to be king. Always having to watch against dangers, like someone trying to assassinate him. Damocles finally asked the king to stop the little experiment because he realized that with great power also comes great danger.
The phrase is widely used to describe any situation where there is a sense of impending doom, especially when the threat is close at hand—regardless of whether you are in a position of power or not.

A Quick History Lesson

The Second World War

As we head into uncharted territory with multiple lock-downs across the globe, I had a little chat with my boy about the Second World War on our way back from school.

Not sure how much he actually took in – probably all of it! But it all started when I mentioned that his Nana’s birthday is approaching and that he must phone her…

It’s Nana’s birthday soon Dani

When?

In a couple of days. Do you know how old she will be?

Yeah. Seventy six.

Well done. Wow, when she was born the Second World War was still going on.

What’s the Second World War?

Well basically it’s the biggest war the planet has ever seen. Lasted about 5 or 6 years.

What happened?

Well basically Germany invaded Czechoslovakia, Poland and France. And a few other places. Then they tried to attack Britain, so we basically kicked their arse.

And what happened to France?

Well they were overrun in about one week. Basically, they surrendered.

And you beat the Germans by yourselves?

Not me personally. Or even your Nana. Well, with a little help from America. And also a bit from Russia.

And were they free after?

Who? France?

Yes. And the other countries.

Yes. After Britain beat the Germans the other countries were free. Although the ones in eastern Europe were not free for another 45 years.

Why not?

Cos Russia turned them into communist basket cases.

(Dani Laughs) When we get home can I play on the iPad?

Yeah. OK.

And that was his first real lesson in mid-20th century European history. Not as interesting as an iPad but hey… It’s a start. Anyway this proves that when it comes to home schooling your dad is the best history teacher you can get. And with total lock-down coming (this Friday I hear in Oz!) Dani could be getting some more fun lessons from me.

I was expecting him to ask about Australia. To which I could have told him that in this part of the world it was the Japanese who were attacking and taking over places. So, the Aussies (again with a little help from America and Russia) kicked their arses. Maybe he will ask later. Then again…

A Few Moments of Clarity

Things are changing rapidly here in Australia and elsewhere. The UK is now on full lock-down. The useless politicians have complete control over our lives, and it is that sad fact that is pissing me off – not any corona/flu virus. How the hell did that happen? It’s a question everyone should be asking themselves.

Here are a few snippets all related to this mad “crisis”. Some you may not have even heard about…and may surprise you.

Borders? What Borders?

The Australian Government is rapidly shutting down any place where people might meet. Yet doing very little to protect the borders. They have had three months to do it properly. Tinkered a little at the end of January then did nothing. Only now – supposedly – have they stopped entry of non-Australians. That still does not mean they have stopped flights entering from places like China, however. Because they haven’t! Truly unreal.

They have even been allowing cruise ships to dock in Sydney city centre and unload thousands of passengers when the ships have had known cases of the virus on board. You couldn’t make this shit up even on some hallucinogenic drug.

And yet… Individual states are apparently closing their borders. To each other! So, assuming we will still be allowed to drive in the coming weeks, how the hell are we supposed to go to Queensland? It is now that crazy. Will they have roadblocks at the state borders? I guess so. It is almost tempting to just drive up to find out. Although it is about a 10-hour drive so maybe not…

The Vanishing Baby Formula

How about this one for something that you could never make up? Organised groups of Chinese people (gangs would probably be a better word) are buying up all the baby formula in supermarkets. It turns out that this has been going on for the past 24 months. Long before this coronavirus shit hit the fan, supermarkets and pharmacies had imposed a one pack per person limit for baby formula. TWENTY FOUR months ago! Yet they are still at it. Teams doing laps. Going in, one after another, buying one then doing it all over again. This two-year-old limit was introduced after it was found that all the baby formula was being sent over to China. Seriously! And recent events have shown that this is still going on. While Aussies are struggling to buy baby formula, pallet loads are still being flown out to China. Sky news even ran an article on it recently. The bastards have been stock piling Australian made baby formula for two years. Did they know what was coming? Why can’t they make their own? It is all more than just weird or a bizarre coincidence. This is real and it is downright spooky.

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

Among all the scare stories are the ever-increasing counts. The numbers known to be infected and the numbers who have died. By country and overall (global) totals. The media seem to be in their element. But be careful what you read and what you believe. On the one hand they want you to believe that this epidemic is both more deadly and far more contagious than the usual flu outbreaks. So, the numbers killed come out at 3 to 5% rather than say 1 or 2% for ‘normal’ flu. (The exact numbers are not the point here.) But the figures do not show that it is highly contagious as not so many seem to have contracted it. Then they say, ‘Ah but a lot of people are probably catching it and do not even know they have had it.’ If that is the case, then the overall death rate would have to be a lot less than they currently claim. More like the usual flu level of 1%. The point is folks, that with the figures they are posting, it cannot be both highly contagious and deadly. The (simple) maths just does not add up.

Lock-downs. The new political trend.

So, the UK is now on full lock-down. I wonder how long it will last, given that there are large sectors of UK society who just will not behave themselves. I give it 3 weeks maximum before there is wide-spread civil disobedience or disorder. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens. And in case you were wondering, while you are imprisoned in your own home: Yes, flights are still arriving into the UK from China, Iran (Tehran) and Northern Italy – the top  three hot-spots. Isn’t that nice?

Places like Italy are now into their second month and Spain almost completing a month of lock-down. Nightmare! In the UK you are only allowed out for exercise ONE time a day. How will they monitor that one then? Search me. But I would recommend going out as often as you like but always, always wearing a track suit and training shoes. That way if you see a police car just start jogging. They will think you are doing your one-time daily run.

Flattening the Contagion Curve?

That’s a phrase you hear a lot right now. Who thought that one up? Some real bullshitter that’s for sure. But it is certainly being widely used.

Another way of putting it could be ‘prolonging the pain’. Because this is what happens when you ‘flatten the contagion curve’. It is six of one, half a dozen of the other of course. Neither is ideal. The old way of dealing with these things used to be ride it out and get it over with as soon as possible. That’s why they used to hold measles parties back in the day. Just get it over and done with and all the kids in the street could carry on with their lives. That said I am sure some must have died. I wonder if there are any statistics on that?

These days, as in all walks of life, the rule seems to be to err on the side of caution. So, this flattened curve means lower numbers of infected over a longer period rather than one huge peak or spike. What it really means is that the whole things will last a fair bit longer. Meaning more lock-down time for one and all. Not good is it?

And so…Lock-downs all around

Any day now Australia will be on full lock-down. It seems to be the domino effect in play. So, let’s just get it done and then back to normal. But can things ever be the same again after this? It is hard to see how they can be. In the very near future, we are going to look back on this panic-demic and wonder how the hell it all got so out of hand. And how we allowed these politicians – most of whom could not even run a bath, never mind a country – to let it get so far.

How is this for ‘clarity’?

The NSW Premier – a Mrs. Gladys Berejiklian (I call her Mrs. Berk for short as it is easier and more meaningful) said this yesterday: “We urge parents to keep their children at home to contain the spread of the virus but schools would remain open.”

How ambiguous a message is it possible to send out? Who is this bloody hopeless woman? and who voted for her? are also very important questions.

In the meantime, please be careful and remember; do not believe everything you see and read in the media. Because most of it will be crap. And the rest they just won’t be telling you about.

In fact, stop watching the news altogether and read a good book (or two). Not having the time is no longer an excuse…

Escaping the City to The Hunter Valley

Australia is known for its wine production. It has come a long way in recent decades and now rivals all the (so called) ‘Old World’ wines of Spain , France and Italy. So, what better way to spend a weekend than in the country setting of the Hunter Valley. That, and a good dose of wine tasting. It was time to hit the road and escape the increasingly controlled environment of this big city.

A sense of tranquillity in the Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley is the best known wine region in New South Wales. It is also the oldest wine making area in Australia. It lies about two hours’ drive north of Sydney. This area is reached by passing through some heavily forested scenery. Once that far away from the city everything almost seems normal. For the time being…

We stayed in the town of Cessnock. The guide-books are not kind to Cessnock. One describes it as “a depressingly unattractive introduction to the salubrious wine culture surrounding it”. Harsh words I feel. It is a town of around 55,000 people and so it is large enough to have all the facilities you could want. There are no high-rise building and it has that old frontier town feel to it, which I quite like. Indeed, it would have been a frontier town not too long ago as things expanded outwards away from the coast. There are enough cafés and bars although some are closing as the panic extends to these parts. Those that are open have stacked tables and chairs such that the remaining customer space is more sparsely arranged. It’s all about that ‘social distancing’ crap again! Still, the owners/managers are only following the government’s guidelines. Soon no doubt they will all be told to close (if they haven’t already while I type).

Into the Wineries

A few minutes’ drive from the town and you are in the heart of the wine tasting country. This was always going to be a first trial visit. Suss the place out. A reconnaissance mission if you like. It soon became apparent that you don’t even need a car – which is just as well if you decide to drink lots of wine. There are hop-on-hop-off buses, organised bus tours and even electrically powered push bikes that you can use and drop off as you want. In some parts the density of wineries is such that you can take a taxi to one and walk to several others. We met people who were doing just that.

Dani sizing up the barrels

Most wine tasting is free but some charge – and to be fair, give bigger tasting measures. You can purchase bottles at all of the stops if you want to. They will even deliver, keeping your hands free for more tasting.

One of the oldest vineyards in Australia

Christmas Shopping Anyone?

Amongst all the wineries there are various shopping areas too. There is a bit of a theme park feel about the place at times. Not that such a thing bothered anyone. The setting was great and so was the wine. There was even a Christmas shop. Yes. That’s correct!

Even Santa was decked out in shorts and one of those stereotypical hanging cork hats.

Actually, that hat reminds me. One thing that bothered both Dani and myself. The flies are extremely bloody annoying. Nuisances at the best of times, the flies up there seem to be on steroids. The hanging cork hat would have been very useful.

You could live out here…

While I was catching up on some funny (or just plain stupid) phone messages it occurred to me. You could live here. The cheap hotels are very affordable. They supply you with toilet paper, soap and shower products, change your towels and sheets. They provide a fridge, microwave and free tea and coffee. This one even had a swimming pool. The daily charge is such that the weekly cost comes to less than the average rent in Sydney. And not having to fight for toilet rolls? What’s not to like?

Well, one thing was the sofa bed. It would be more comfortable sleeping in the car. But that was for Dani. He could sleep width ways. Definitely not good when I tried lying length ways. There were even cheaper places in the area. Sadly of course these places will all be told to close any time soon. The immediate future must surely look more depressing than this town could ever be to any travel guide writer.

I love these old hotel/pubs. Such character.

Sadly this place has been temporarily closed.

Conclusions

Definitely a great place to spend a weekend. Definitely going again. Let’s hope this bloody virus crap allows another visit sooner rather than later. Naturally, we used this trip to stock up on wine for the inevitable oncoming lock-down.

Incidentally, there was no visible evidence of the bush fires in the area we visited or along the routes we drove back to the city. One wine ‘pourer’ mentioned that they had reached some 15 minutes’ drive away. Enough to spoil this year’s harvest when the winds brought the smoke.

We barely scratched the surface but now know enough to do a more organised trip next time round. All in all, mission accomplished. And a final word to you guide-book writers: Give Cessnock a break eh?

Life’s a Beach. Then they Close Them.

It is unavoidable at the moment. Jeez… with the media devoting about 99% of its time to this thing you have to ask if there is anything else going on in the world and if so, why aren’t they reporting it?

Anyway, here goes…

First they closed the beaches…

So much for the great Winston Churchill’s speech eh? “We will fight them on the beaches..” and all that. The fools running the local councils around here have closed the bloody beaches. The “iconic” (sorry that word again) Bondi Beach was first to go. Apparently too many people enjoying themselves when they should be (at least partially, for now) self-isolating and shitting themselves.

Hell yeah! After stripping all the supermarket shelves bare why aren’t the plebs all at home? I’ll tell you why. Because they are still not afraid enough. Well the local authorities intend to put a stop to all that and the beaches was a good place to start. Bastards! That will mean the ocean pools will also be out of bounds. I had one or two in mind this coming week for a swim. Obviously, once Bondi closed the surfers and general fun-loving public would look for nearby alternatives; so they started to fall like dominoes. They closed Bronte and Tamarama beaches. Then nearby Randwick council closed Maroubra, Coogee and Clovelly beaches. That means all the main ocean facing beaches in the (so called) Eastern Suburbs are closed.

Bondi is always very crowded. Probably because it is so “iconic” – puke! It’s also why I don’t really like it, but still… Surely that’s “un-Australian”?

It’s all about gatherings of more than 500 people apparently. Who knew that virus could fucking count? Clever little bugger eh?

No idea on the North Shore beaches. I am not sure I want to know either. I try and keep the depressing news at a safe distance. Speaking of which…

Social Distancing?

Here’s a good question. How come they managed to organise all sort of these signs so quickly, but they couldn’t stop foreigners from entering the country for over two months? Yes. It is more than two months since the first case in Australia, but they have only just sealed the borders to possible infection from other countries. Talk about too little too late. Well, certainly the ‘too late’ part eh?

These things appeared everywhere. Almost overnight…

Cruising for a Bruising

While you are at it ask your local politician this one: Why have thousands of tourists from several cruise ships, known to have cases of the disease, been allowed onshore in Sydney city centre over the past few weeks?

The mind boggles. But hey. Let’s start locking down the general population bit by bit and scare them slowly. If it was up to me, I would advocate giving all the politicians a good slapping. The way they have dealt with this nonsense they are definitely ‘cruising for a bruising’ (as we used to say when there was a spot of bother in the air). If they are looking for volunteers to hand out the ‘bruisings’ they can start right here with me…

Escape

Fortunately this weekend we managed to escape the city – while we still could. It was good to get out of the city again. More on that to follow. I wonder when we will be able to do it again? NSW government is now saying that from tomorrow (Monday 23rd) only essential services will be in operation. That definitely signals the start of a total shutdown.

Go on then. Here’s a “C” Word Update from Australia

I know. I know. I said I wasn’t going to go on about this bloody coronavirus unless there was something worth saying or reporting. And really, there hasn’t been. It’s pretty much as you were… That said…

Confusion reigns in the and down-under.

The government has decided it is not a good idea to close the schools. I happen to agree but not necessarily because of the reasons they give. It seems that “medical experts” (we are hearing so much from them I never realised there were so many) have informed the Prime Minister that schools should stay open and kids are not likely to contract the virus at school. Of course, no names were offered. Heaven forbid that someone will take responsibility for such a decision. They shall remain nameless and faceless “medical experts”.

And there I was thinking we would all be on total lock-down any day soon. It changes by the day. Hour. So, who the hell knows what’s around the corner?

Australia Closing

The only other big change is that the country is finally going to close its borders. Eh? I know. I thought that too. Anyway, only Australian citizens will be allowed into the country on flights after 9pm tonight. Why 9pm? I hear you ask. I have no idea and really don’t care. I guess they are expecting someone special to arrive about 8pm. It’s yet another mad mystery in this pathetic farce.

They have had two months to do that. So why now? Is it too little too late? Or does it not matter, because they are only doing it to appear to be proactive? Again, I neither know nor care. I just wish they would get on with something. Maybe like coming clean and telling us exactly what is going on. But that’s not going to happen now is it?

What is does mean is that anyone who leaves the country will not be allowed back in until this mess is over. Whenever that will be. The Prime Minister is saying this could go on for 6 months. Come off it mate! No way!

All this is going to hurt the tourist industry here. But then almost every industry will be hit hard in many countries. Even the leather bags being made in Italy!

And on that note… No more about Coronavirus (again).