If Australians adhere to social distancing, if testing can be rolled out, and if enough masks and personal protection equipment can be produced, then there is a good chance that the country will be able to avert the worst predictions about COVID-19, and at least temporarily bring the pandemic under control. No one knows how long that will take, and though the curve of new cases is flattening, it won’t be quick.
Meanwhile the economy tanks. The global economic machine is built for growth, and it has been brought to a screeching halt. The economic shock has seen unemployment rise, businesses close down, and a grim economic global and national outlook for the rest of 2020. Civil liberties have been significantly curtailed, parliament adjourned, and the normal operations of the media are greatly restricted, meaning that it is more difficult for the public to access reliable information. Realistically, is simply not possible to thoroughly insulate an economy from the impact of a pandemic of this kind.
The most realistic scenario is that the world plays a protracted game of whack-a-mole with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, stamping out outbreaks here and there until a vaccine can be produced. There are no existing vaccines for coronaviruses—until now, these viruses seemed to cause diseases that were mild or rare—so researchers must start from scratch. The estimate is that it will take 12 to 18 months to develop a proven vaccine, and then longer still to make it, ship it, and inject it into people’s arms.
We arrived back from a 2-3 week holiday in the lower part of the South Island in New Zealand on Monday night (the 23rd March), and immediately began our mandatory 2 weeks of self-isolation. We just made it back to Australia before New Zealand locked down–a nationwide shutdown– on Wednesday, and Virgin had cancelled all its international flights in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
I walked Kayla along the coastal rocks the morning after our return before sunrise in order to avoid other people. There was one runner on the Heritage Trail, and the Green Car man was walking amongst on the rocks with his aggressive Australian Blue Heeler on a lead. I was able to keep a large distance from both of them. Other than that there was no one around and I entered no buildings.
It was a mild and overcast morning. The landscape looked so very dry compared to Fiordland or to Dunedin. Though it started to rain as we made our way back to the car at Petrel Cove, the rain didn’t last long and it was very light. It wasn’t enough to green a browned landscape.
Poodlewalks is walking, photography, blogging. So where do I go from here in a world defined by social media?
I have recently enlarged the boundaries of the short, morning poodlewalks with Kayla from walking along the coast and the back country roads to walking through the seaside suburbs in Victor Harbor. Enlarging the boundaries in the sense of broadening my engagement with my locality. The southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula is very walkable.
In following up a YouTube link on Stuart Murdoch’s photoblog I listened to Craig Mod talking about his walks in Japan. I realised after this talk that my poodlewalks are actually a platform, to use a digital term. For me they are a platform for some photography.
The summer holidays on the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, which are associated with childhood vacations and dreams, ended with the Australian Day long weekend. Suddenly the summer holiday crowds thinned–apart from the boaties hunting the blue fin tuna. The fun fair has packed up and gone until the school holidays,
The brief period of cooler days that we experienced has also gone with the return of the hot weather, with its temperatures around 40 degrees and northwesterly winds. These are conditions that generate the “fire flume,” as historian Stephen Pyne calls the hot northerly winds that sweep scorching air from inland Australia into the forested ranges of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Australia was burning.
Hopefully, the fires still burning on Kangaroo Island, the Adelaide Hills and the Orroral Valley fire south of Canberra do not to flare up into mega-fires , which mean that the very question of the habitability of Australia now stares us in the face. Will these fires be a tipping point amongst the general public?
Kayla and I have started to walk along the various roads next to the various beaches in Encounter Bay so that I can photograph the seaside architecture. As these morning walks incorporate Hayborough, which is east of the Hindmarsh River, they can take several hours. The mornings have been overcast and the cloud cover has remained until 9am.
I have taken photos of the domestic seaside architecture before on previous beach walks, but not published any. I wanted to be a little more thorough. This house at 68 Franklin Parade is one that I have walked past many times, but I’ve never bothered to photograph it. It is quite secluded by the trees and bushes on the right hand side of the front of the property.
It stands out from the other beach houses on Franklin Parade because of the dark, brown wood, orange roof, and the trees. It is much darker and in deeper shadow than the other houses.
During the first two weeks in November the coast of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula has been buffeted by strong westerly winds. Only the odd days here and there have been without the wind. It is only in this third week of November that I have returned to walking along the beach around the mouth of the Inman River in the early morning or amongst the rocks west of Petrel Cove in the late afternoon.
It is usually quiet on the Esplanade Beach early in the morning. There are not very many people walking along this beach—just the odd local person walking their dog. So Kayla and I have the beach pretty much to ourselves.
On a recent late afternoon walk with Maleko I sat quietly amongst these rocks in the littoral zone just east of Kings Beach Rd in Waitpinga. It was a warm evening, Maleko was looking for golf balls, and I was looking at the light on the rock before the sun disappeared behind the hill.
It was a quiet moment and, whilst I sat there , I had a sense of belonging to this landscape–being a part of it as it were; rather than just walking through it, being separate from it, and taking photos of what caught my eye. I felt the spray on my face, the wind on my arms, and the sun on my back, whilst the waves of the incoming tide gently rolled around my feet. It was a space where I could immerse myself in the moment.