This year has certainly been unlike any other year like I have never experienced before, for a number of reasons that affected so many people. Starting late 2019, was the heat and the bushfires that much of Australia experienced. I remember packing up and leaving the beach house in a hurry just before New Year’s, once the power shut off and our dog struggled in the heat. On the drive back to Melbourne we listened to the news on the radio, with warnings for Melbournians to evacuate if they were in close proximity to a fire, and to take care and watch with caution if they were in a surrounding area.
I will never forget heading to work in the CBD in early January to a city I had never experienced, with a haze of smoke and dusty skies. It was a constant reminder of what was happening all around us, as Australia truly begun to understand the impacts of climate change.
But part of me wonders, do we actually know? Do we really understand the causes, the problems, and the lasting effects? Spending time at my Dad’s property in February definitely got me thinking about our relationship with nature, and how important every aspect of our ecosystem is in cultivating growth and change around us.
The COVID situation
After a quick trip to Tasmania in February to enjoy all the region has to offer (quite literally) and attend a friend’s wedding, we were back in Melbourne with a trip to New Zealand planned for early March. As we heard the news of ‘coronavirus’ breaking out in countries far away, we were unaware of the significant threat it posed, or that we would soon be experiencing one of the harshest lockdowns in history.
We made it to New Zealand without a hiccup and stayed informed of the news as we travelled around the North island for ten days. We had a wonderful holiday; packed with rainforest walks/runs, waterfalls, sailing the Bay of Islands and indulging in some incredible food and wine. We visited the town of Taupo, where we were amazed at the size of the lake; we had never seen one so big, only on American TV shows. We experienced the stench of Rotorua and marvelled at the sulphuric springs as they boiled away, letting off steam.
We heard coronavirus warnings on the radio as we drove from town to town and were impressed with the speed at which the country was informing the public. We doubted that Australia would have such precautions in place this early on. We had just finished a tour of the Waitomo glow worm caves, one of the most incredible things I had ever seen, when things really started spiralling out of control around the world. It was our second last night in New Zealand, and while we were having an amazing time away, we were looking forward to getting back to a familiar place, as chaos unfolded around us.
We made it back within a few days of the mandatory quarantine being enforced for people who had been out of the country. Not that we went anywhere or did anything when we returned anyway; we found ourselves working from home and not leaving for many other reasons at all, other than to shop for food and to exercise.
The state of being
I have shared my thoughts and feelings throughout the year, and some of my posts may have been slightly repetitive, which only emphasises the state of being for 2020.
While I write of cities, of the bush, of time spent travelling earlier this year, I reflect on these major events and wonder what the next year, even the next 10-20 years will bring. It seems that this way of living has already become ‘business as usual’.
Here in Victoria, Australia, we have been doing so well at keeping cases down, but as we begin to let international travellers back in, I can only wonder what will happen after the last debacle, and with what’s going on in New South Wales at the moment, who knows. Of course, I am hoping for the best, for a level of control, for strong leadership and guidelines that will mean that we don’t find ourselves to a similar situation that we were in earlier this year in 2021, for both the pandemic and the environment, although things are not looking great.
But there are signs of respite, such as this beautiful story of a thought to be extinct pygmy possum being recently found on Kangaroo Island after bushfires destroyed much of the island last summer.
As America comes to terms with the idea of a new president in Biden, someone that has climate change well and truly on his agenda, we can only hope too that Australia has a plan, because if things keep going the way they are, it doesn’t seem that we will be able to enjoy our country for much longer. Every summer will be the same; fires, loss of and significant damage to wildlife and an enormous volunteer effort to manage the situation. As David Attenborough would say, this is just not a sustainable way of living; we need to drastically change our approach before it is too late.
This year has shown that when given strong leadership, we as a community can do it, we can get out of almost anything, or at least turn things around. So, let’s make 2021 a year of learning, reflection and action on anything that is within our control.
Have a safe and happy Christmas break everyone and see you next year!