On 14th June, after 10 weeks of social distancing in Victoria, we were finally on the move again. Heading as far north as we could get, leaving behind winter and chasing summer so that we’d never have to experience this again:
By the time we left our house in Maldon, we were certainly ready to hit the road. The last couple of weeks things had become very much more relaxed, and it was great to walk down the main street and see people. It felt like life might be slowly getting back to normal. Very exciting to be out in public having a drink again:
One advantage of staying put for a while, was that we had an address which in turn meant we could order things online. A new mac book air, kindle and apple TV later and the opportunity to use this time of isolation to revive our budget was lost 😂
Crossing into New South Wales was uneventful and we spent one night in Wagga Wagga then moved on to Dubbo (got to love those Ozzie town names :-)) and finally reached the sea at Newcastle. Every day the weather got better and by the time we got to Byron Bay, we were back in summer gear.
Byron Bay, known for its beaches and surf, felt like a different planet – Definitely no social distancing of any kind going on there. The only concession to the virus was having to sign in on entering (some) bars and restaurants.
At this point, getting into Queensland was still not possible. Rumours were that the Premier would grant access on 10th July. We rented a place for two weeks, not too far from the border and kept our fingers crossed. The weather was with us and we were able to enjoy the empty beaches and our terrace.
About two weeks after we’d set off, the number of Covid cases in Victoria, specifically Melbourne, exploded. Days later, New South Wales closed the borders with Victoria. We were so thankful that we’d decided to leave when we did.
On 30th June, it was announced that from 10th July, Queensland would be allowing people in again – With the exception of Victorians and anyone who had been in Victoria in the last 14 days. Luckily we had already been in New South Wales for 3 weeks – Phew!
After downloading the necessary pass stating that we weren’t feeling ill and hadn’t been in VIC in the last 14 days.
We crossed into QLD on 12th July.
Our last night in NSW was spent right on the border, just outside of Coolangatta.
In fact, driving out of the garage from our hotel, we were right on the crossing:
Traffic was nowhere near as bad as we’d expected. Again things seemed to be on our side as the police were waving everyone through except those with Victoria number plates. Having Northern Territory plates, we sailed right through.
A few days after being in QLD, NSW suddenly had an increase in Covid cases, causing the QLD Premier to put more restrictions in place and once again, at the beginning of August, the border was closed. We were in though and, deciding to avoid the busy areas like the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Brisbane, headed North towards Townsville and on into the “wet tropics” which go all the way to Cooktown:
This part of Australia, along with Tasmania is definitely one of our favourites. Probably because it’s very similar to S/E Asia: Sunshine, humidity, palm trees, exotic fruit, mosquitoes, large spiders and ants, etc. Until we can get back, this does feel a bit like home, though our budget wouldn’t agree 🙂
Visa-wise: We’re still on a bridging visa and have been for 6 months now. Waiting to hear if our one-year Visitor Visa will be granted. Though not an optimal situation, at least for the time being, we are here legally! 😀
We’ve been keeping an eye on the the whole situation of International borders reopening: Bali was initially going to allow tourists from mid September but that’s now postponed until next year. Thailand is issuing a special long term visa (9 months) but details are still sketchy and it sounds pretty complicated. Malaysia is a possibility (we have the MM2H retirement visa there). We’d have to go into 2 week quarantine, which is OK, but it would be at a place of their choice – Not OK. The rest of Asia is pretty much still closed down.
Though it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, our hope now is that we’ll be spending our next birthdays (May) back in Asia👍🤞
By the time we became “Permanent Tourists” we’d managed to get our physical mail down to zero. Nowadays, the only mail we get is new bank cards from Europe. In order to receive them, we rent a PO Box from the main post office in Kuala Lumpur. This has to be paid for and renewed on the 2nd of January every year. It involves going to the post office and handing over the cash. It cannot be done in advance and cannot be done online. There is no way that we will be in Malaysia in January to do this which is a worry. 3 months to sort out this problem!
Currently we’re on Oak Beach just north of Port Douglas, staying in a beautiful house, just a few metres from the beach.
Here it’s very easy to forget that Covid exists. In this part of the world, everything is going on as normal. Restaurants and bars are open and markets are thriving. Mind you, there have been next to no cases here.
We’re going to stay in this area for the foreseeable future so are renting places for a month at a time (courtesy of Airbnb) and getting fantastic discounts.
There’s a lot to see and we did a nice 4×4 drive (Bloomfield track) up to Cooktown. It turned out a bit lame so, weather permitting, we’re looking forward to doing the CREB track. Here’s a video of the drive to Cooktown – turn sound on to really appreciate the experience 😂
Well, time for a glass of wine – Stay safe and healthy everyone and may things soon return to normal!