Monday, March 30, 2020


 White gum flowers mean the mullet are fat. In the evening lightning blazed and thumped around the inlet. It was still warm. I could hear mullet jumping, they were busy catching summer evening bugs, the sound of someone wading through water. Mullet like to lay up when the water is warm and shallow. I couldn’t think of a better excuse in court than CV19 to indulge in a bit of poaching.
This time last year I was in the same spot on my veranda and heard the mullet. It was quite dark, so I pulled on my head lamp, grabbed the net box and walked the net out into the inlet. In the morning I drove up the track to ring my boss to see if I was going up the mountain to the tower. She said yes and for some reason that’s when I remembered the net. I had to race home, strip down to my undies and pick up the net. The water was so shallow the net was practically beached and of course there was not a single mullet.
 About a week ago, just as the tourists had left our little forest and sea town (population 500), there was a sudden explosion of new travellers. Caravans, camper vans. It was so weird. I know everyone’s talking about herds lately and this herd of virus refugees had decided to leave the city and stay in a tiny town full of old people, strip mining the only supermarket in town for their supplies. Chaos. The supermarket owner took matters into his own hands, banning all-of-towners from the shop. It wasn’t a popular move for the visitors but they can still buy deliveries online. They just can’t come into the shop. I went in yesterday and the de-escalation of stress at the checkout was visible on all the workers’ faces. They’ve been doing it tough.

The banksias are flowering and the honey eaters are being thugs, honey possums are good entertainment for spotting at night. Selkie follows me everywhere, like she thinks I’m secretly packing for a trip. She’s picking something up, a generalised societal anxiety. I’m not feeling overly anxious, in fact I told my son this morning: ‘I think I was born for this shit.’ He laughed and said yeah, the apocalypse will sail right over him.
Now all the visitors have to go home tomorrow as the state premier imposed regional borders for an indefinite time. I won’t be able to visit family as I think my border is the Frankland River but maybe people should just stop moving around altogether. In fact, I’m sorta pleased. My thinking is pretty scatty and it’s difficult to get creative work done. I’ve written a note and pasted it to the fridge with a list of things I should do every day. It’s being … um … wilfully ignored. My office, the laundromat, is still open, so I’ll be there Tuesday, zooming my students.

Stay well Bloggers. Let me know what you are up to.

Monday, March 16, 2020

On potential isolation

I gave my last hug to a woman named Vikki on Friday. She is kind and wise and met me, lost, at my front door. It turned out she was in the right place, just one hidden driveway away. So good to see her. Ever since I’ve greeted people with a prayer gesture or arms crossed over my chest and a nod. I’m a natural hugger so this whole thing is a bit weird.

Trilby bailed me up outside the parks and wildlife office yesterday. He’s found a ‘dumper’, a habitual dumper of rubbish. Unfortunately. this dumper probably weekends at the place where I live and Trilby is onto them … ‘like a ninja’ he says, karate punching himself on his hard, septuagenarian stomach. ‘I worked as a constable in Hong Kong in the 60s,’ he said. ‘Imagine what will happen to those litterbugs when I get hold of them.’ He then mentioned something about testicles and investigations. ‘I’m not sure which rangers are on today,’ I told him, carefully concealing my cigarette butt in a chewing gum tin. ‘Have you considered writing a letter to the council?’

A major Australian university divests their stocks in fossil fuels. Markets are tanking anyway due to the lurgy but this particular move is heralded as ‘virtue signalling’ in crisis times. There is talk about self-isolation. I feel I could well be the next expert, for once. None of this is new to me. ‘Aren’t you afraid sometimes?’ a woman asked me yesterday. ‘Living out there alone?’

I can hardly believe it myself, but it’s been nearly five years now, since I moved out to the inlet. Apart from the poles, it’s one of the more isolated places on our planet. I live here off the grid and without telecommunications. Famously (it’s catchy) I finished the edits of my last book at the local laundromat in town because there was a power point, a chair and table and mobile phone range.

Now as a new imperative, I’m looking at heading to the laundromat to continue my work as a uni tutor. The beauty of tech means I can continue work as a tutor when the universities shut down, as I listen to my clothes churn around and around (the lint filters need changing by the way), and stay connected with the students. Self-isolation is actually the pinnacle of my life options. What could be better, for me?

Trilby talks about his dreams for an eco-caravan park at the inlet so they can knock down the squatter huts where I live. He looks to me for approval. He may as well be looking under a car seat for that missing hairclip. ‘Eco-caravan park talkers are akin to white-shoe property developers to me,’ I say. He stares forlornly at the orange bag of litter at his feet. ‘Those huts should be heritage listed,’ I say. ‘They belong to the old cattle run families.’ The word ‘heritage’ has power. He nods, but he knows now that I am not an ally.

Where am I going here? Not sure really. Information seems to be at least a week late from the gubberment and meanwhile we make it up ourselves. Flattening the curve involves no more hugs, handshakes or kisses for the foreseeable future (whatever those chicken entrails are) and I’m happy to comply. Just don’t turn my bolt hole, my haven, into an eco-caravan park.

And be kind and good to each other. Consider your workers in retail, education and medicine and give them your most gorgeous (non coughy) juice. The people who heal you and your family, who sell you fuel and a carton of milk and those who teach your kids, they live at the coal face now. They deserve your utter, utter respect and consideration.

*posted from the laundromat*