The afternoon walks through the local bush will soon be coming to an end as we came across a brown snake the other afternoon whilst we were walking along Depledge Rd in Waitpinga. I was surprised to see it on the side of the road because it was still late winter, and the day temperatures up to that date had not been that warm.
From now on the poodlewalks in the bush or scrub will need to be in early morning as its too cold for snakes. Kayla and I usually start walking around sunrise and I am looking out for the early morning light. It is changing.
The late afternoon walks with Maleko will, by and large, be along the coastal rocks between Petrel Cove and Kings Beach. We have to walk part of the way along the Heritage Trail to reach the rocks. As we have seen the odd brown snake along this path in the past, I keep an eye out.
Recently we did all walked together one August afternoon at Goolwa Beach on the Fleurieu Peninsula. This was before we went to the Lavender Trail camp at Kapunda and prior to the wet, stormy weather that rolled into South Australia from the west in late August.
Prior to walking along the beach we had checked out the new Kuti Shack and had a quick drink at the new Goolwa Lifesaving Club. Everybody in the club sanitised their hands and kept the required 1.5 metre distance, despite the current lack of community transmission of the Covid-19 virus in South Australia.
The roadside vegetation that I see whilst walking the back country roads is limited in terms of photographic subject matter. So I have been wandering and exploring this bushland on both the early morning with Kayla and at the late afternoon poodlewalks with Maleko.
June 1 dawned with cold, blustery south westerly winds, dark clouds, driving rain and big seas. Winter had arrived on cue.
This cloud formation is what greeted Kayla and myself on the early morning poodlewalk on June 1. We hugged the northern edge of Rosetta Head to escape the 50 km south-westerly wind. I was looking across Encounter Bay to Goolwa and to the Coorong.
The weather was too wild to continue to the top of Rosetta Head and down the southern side, so we turned away from the coast, which is where we normally walk and photograph, jumped in the car and drove inland to seek some protection from the gusty, driving wind. We walked up and down Depledge Rd for about 30-40 minutes before I decided to return to exploring the bush “reserve” that ran adjacent to the western side of Depledge Rd in Waitpinga. We had had walked within this “reserve” a few days before.
The lockdown restrictions for the Covid-19 pandemic means that I can only travel in my local area, until the travel restrictions are eased (in mid-May?) to allow us to travel more widely within the South Australian borders. The permitted movement with the stay-at-home order is primarily for exercise. There are lots of people walking along the coastal paths in the Petrel Cove / Kings Beach area.
With the extensive economic dislocation and suffering from the Covid-19 lockdown, the political conversation has shifted to reopening the nation’s economy to ‘get the economy moving‘ as soon a possible. Rosy scenario’s abound. The federal Coalition government in Australia says it plans to return to its austerity and small state prescriptions –ie., cutting regulations, reducing taxes on business, a punitive cutting back welfare, and generally letting the private sector lead the economic restart. This, it is promised, will ensure that economic growth will proceed as before Covid-19. This assumes a sharp, V-shaped recovery.
During the lockdown I have been photographing in the Encounter Bay/Waitpinga area on the poodlewalks in both the morning and the evening. This digital snap was made on the morning of the 28th April before the rains came in from the south-west.
Whilst I was walking along Baum Rd with Kayla around sunrise I could sense that the rain was on its way. It held off until 3pm that afternoon, then it rained for most of the night. Luckily, the painters, who are painting the eves of the house, had just finished for the day. They won’t be returning until the following Monday, as the weather forecast is for continual rain for the rest of this week.
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?