Opinion

Isolation diaries part five: Greetings from Echuca

By Andrew Johnston

Greetings everyone from…Echuca?

Yes, after five weeks back in Tasmania, two of which included being self-isolated inside my house, and a further three of leaving the house only to collect food and do other essential activities, I am now back in Echuca.

It turns out that its quite difficult to tell the stories of our twin towns when you aren’t here to hear the stories.

So, I found myself back on the Spirit of Tasmania, the very ship which had taken me back to my island home five weeks before hand.

And this is where I first really noticed how much the world has changed – because it was drastically different than when I last boarded the boat.

On that occasion, many seats were marked off, people couldn’t sit in them.

The car was open, but you needed to social distance.

The restaurant on board was open, but you couldn’t serve your own food.

There were hand sanitising stations all along the boat, and when I asked to be moved to my own room, they were more than happy to oblige.

But the afternoon of my trip back, I was told a lot of that was not going to be the case.

Instead, there were care packages in all our rooms for us, but the restaurant was closed, the decks were shut off to patrons, no bars and no food.

From the moment we got on the boat, we were expected to go to our cabins and not leave them for the duration of the trip.

So, from my arrival on the boat at about 5.30 in the afternoon until I went back to my car at 6.30 the next morning, I was in a four-person cabin on my own.

We were advised to bring some snacks or food of our own with us (which I did, taking some KFC and a bottle of coke with me), but the care package of a bar of dairy milk, a packet of chips, an orange, a couple of bottles of water and some breakfast materials was more than enough.

I took my PlayStation, a few games, and a small computer monitor in order to have something to pass the time and ended up playing many hours of MLB the Show during the trip.

I was travelling on my own, so it wasn’t like I was expecting to sit around in the lounges and have a chat and a drink with my friends, but the idea of not being able to leave the cabin was strange.

I feel bad for anyone who took a young family with them and were all isolated in the cabin together, without the benefit of a PlayStation in their room.

It wasn’t the easiest trip home, a rough night over Bass Strait resulted in very little sleep.

After arriving in Port Melbourne I made the drive to Echuca, restocked my fridge, and headed into my house to resume spending as little time outside as I can.

What made the decision to come back even easier is the feeling that normal is on the way back.

NSW have already announced the first steps, and Victoria doesn’t seem too far away from easing their restrictions as well.

We are doing well everyone, possibly better than we thought we would be when we got to this point.

The light at the end of the tunnel is becoming slightly brighter.