It’s the start of my 5th week working from home during the time of Covid19. I am lucky to be living in South Australia where we have had a relatively low death rate from the virus. So far only four deaths and over 90% of people who have contracted Covid 19 have fully recovered. Our restrictions have not been as severe as in other states of Australia. So we can still go to the shops and make so called non essential purchases. This is of course tenuous and could reverse if people become complacent about social distancing and hand hygiene these are basic public health initiatives.
We have not ventured out in this time other than to the grocery shop and hardware shop. We have started leaving our shoes outside or just inside the front door. We wipe down the car door handles steering wheel and anything else that we may touched when out. This also includes the door handles in our house. We have even been washing our reusable shopping bags. On the plus side we have done lots of work around the house. Catching up on maintenance and gardening. Far from being bored we are trying to use our time productively.
I have taken a self imposed break from the news limiting myself to a 15 minute bulletin in the morning and no TV news. The media are really caught up in a cycle of disaster porn. Endlessly repeating the stats that are publicly available and speculating on what horrors are in the near future. This is embellished by experts who really do not know more than the published information. Largely our politicians seem to be behaving more sensibly than they usually do and listening to sound advice from the relevant bodies. Maybe that why we are having such a low rate of community transmission of Covid19 in this country. We are of course fortunate to live on a large island which prevents people sneaking in.
This does not take away from the absolute tragedies that are taking place in Europe and the United States. The death toll on the United Kingdom will no doubt be much higher than the stated numbers when deaths in nursing homes and domestic dwellings are taken into account. The likelihood of a miracle cure or vaccine seem distant now we can only hope that something will emerge.
I walk near our home , out the front door and into a conservation park. The dogs love it and they walk off leash . Usually we encounter about four or five people on our walks and some dogs. Last night a balmy evening we encountered about 25 people . I dont think that I have ever seen that many people on the walking track in the 25 or so years that I have been living here . Young and old all out walking this may be a small silver lining to the whole flattening the Covid19 curve.
I am guessing that once all the Covid19 restrictions start to return to normal the numbers will go down again. I have seen many posts on social media imploring people to take this as as a moment to reset their lives. Perhaps I am a pessimist but I suspect that most people will go back to their old ways as the Covid19 restrictions are gradually lifted. Enjoy some pictures of the dogs walking in the conservation park .
We stayed at an AirBnB in Dawesley in the Adelaide Hills. As it turned out this was our last holiday before the Covid 19 pandemic. We stayed at the Carlisle Alpaca Farm Stay B&B which was booked through AirBnB. Set on acreage it’s a lovely location. The accommodation was very comfortable and relaxing. Lots of Alpacas to see and they were very friendly and curious. Dawesley itself is a collection of houses and has no services. However there are many towns quite close. We enjoyed some lovely weather as well.
Hahndorf is a small town located in the Adelaide hills which has interesting German history. The original settlers Lutherans from Prussia name their town after the Captain of the ship that brought them to South Australia Dirk Meinerts Hahn, hence Hahndorf. Hahndorf is the oldest surviving German settlement in Australia being founded in 1839.
Today its a thriving town which is relies heavily on tourism. Sundays are particularly busy with lots of day trippers from Adelaide. Lots of food of German style is available. If its Wurst you are after Hahndorf is the place.
Our cruise in January 2020 departed from Brisbane and took us to Cairns via Airlie Beach. The P&O Aria docked overnight. We have been to Cairns before so took the opportunity to just relax. Cairns is a reasonably large city with about 120,000 people. There are lots of tourist attractions which we have seen. I’m sure that a ship with 1700 passengers injects something to the local economy.
There is a dedicated cruise terminal which luckily has a craft brewery called Hemingways right on the wharf. I can report that the beer is good. Ships dock right in town and its only a ten minute walk to town and the main shopping areas.
Having been to Cairns before there is not much to do. We walked around town a couple of times. Amusingly there were bats in residence near the town hall quite a large colony. Surprisingly noisy and active in the daytime. I thought that bats were exclusively nocturnal. We did have a beer at the Grand Hotel which has a carved crocodile head in the front bar. Full of local drinking XXXX beer in very dirty stubby holders. Local colour I guess. According to the pub’s website it was founded in 1926 so its part of the fabric of Cairns.
Something amusing were the bats hanging around the town hall. I’m not sure is this is a cryptic metaphor for what goes on in the town hall. Initially it sounded like colony of birds. I was surprised how noisy the bats were in the daytime.
Then it was back on the ship and onwards to Willis Island. A small island far enough of the coast to make the cruise eligible for duty free shopping. Just a small speck in the ocean. Then south toward Brisbane.
Getting ready to head of for short break in our Avan Cruiseliner and a got quite a surprise . Lifting up the bed I disturbed a bee hive under the bed. Essentially splitting it in half. The bees were very cross and attacked me. I got stung 15 times that wasn’t fun .
Angel Of Death: Dulcie Markham, Australia’s most beautiful bad woman
I heard about Angel of Death from a podcast Conversations which airs on ABC in Australia. The author was discussing the book and its subject. You can listen to the author Leigh Straw on Conversations. It’s often the case that my interest in books is piqued by an interview with the author. This is apparently the third in a series of books on women in the Australian underworld during the 1920’s and !930’s. The other title s focus on Lillian Armfield Australia’s first woman detective and another notorious woman called Kate Leigh. This is a world I am not familiar with at all the prevailing narrative is one of male dominated crime.
Dulcie Markham’s life is astounding starting off as a runaway at age 15 and gradually moving into a world of prostitution. This is at a time when Sydney was a dangerous place. There were gangs on the streets that used razors as weapons. Dulcie Markham progressed through this underworld arguable reaching her peak in the 1940s. What makes her notorious is the number of men in her life that met a grizzly end. This is how she attracted the moniker of the Angel of Death. They did not die at her hands.
Angel of death is an interesting social history that throws some light in the underworlds of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth during the period. Dulcie Markham was quite the survivor.
We had a short break after Easter heading to Burra for a couple of nights. Burra is an interesting place in the history of South Australia. Founded in 1845 which is quite early in the history of the colony. We have been to Burra before and it made it a good base for exploring a little further.
We headed to Jamestown which is about an hour north west of Burra. Jamestown is a service centre for the local region. There are not many “tourist” attractions there. R.M Williams was born there, the famous outback boot maker. We did however discover the pressed glass museum at Penn Cottage. The museum was interesting but the couple who run it were far more interesting. Kevin and Marge are in their 80’s and have had fabulous lives. They are not celebrities in the modern sense but their stories are the stuff of books.
Kevin told us quite casually how he hitchhiked from England to Australia over the period of one year. It was a remarkable story which was relayed to us in at almost offhand manner. Kevin had left England and arrived in Australia as a seventeen yea old jumped ship in Melbourne. This was in the nineteen fifties, he did get into trouble with the law but stayed and worked in Mount Isa. He told us that he promised his mother he would return to England for his 21st birthday.
Setting off from Melbourne he signed on to a ship to work his way back to England for his 21st birthday and Christmas with the family. He signed off the ship and no sooner had he arrived at his family home when the army were knocking at the door. Apparently at this time military service for two years was compulsory unless you had spent four years at sea. He said that his father was able to negotiate a three month delay.
The night before he was due to sign on he left England and headed back to Australia . It’s amazing to think that he trekked across Europe , Turkey, Iraq, Iran , Afghanistan and India finally landing landing in Burma. He was most modest describing the remarkable journey. This journey would not be possible today with all the troubles and national borders that exist.
A most fabulous visits with a cup of tea as well and homemade biscuits.
I have written about our visit to the glass museum at Penn Cottage. Jamestown is a service town and in the past had a significant railway station. The station is still there but is a museum these days. The museum was unattended on the day of our visit. A call to the number on the door revealed that the caretaker had business in Port Pirie all day so we couldn’t peek inside. The only living things at the old railway station were some chooks seeking shade under a tree. its a lovely old building with a letterbox dating to the reign of Queen Victoria. Would have been good to peek inside.
The other big attraction was a German world war one cannon housed inside a substantial glass building in the local park. The glass panelling was so reflective I couldn’t get a decent photo. However there was a pine tree in the park sourced from the Battle of Lone Pine . I suspect that there are many such trees in country towns across Australia commemorating the Great War.
It was very quiet in Jamestown on the day we a were there because 300-400 people were attending a funeral. Also of note is that Jamestown is the birthplace of RM Williams the famous boot maker and supplier of outback clothes. There is a wooden sculpture of him as per the picture above. Glad we went may not get another opportunity to go there. There are lots of small towns like this in South Australia that we have never visited.