It’s been a busy few weeks.
Our SAL (Special Additional Leave) block overlapped with the NSW school holidays this year, so those of us still actively affiliated with the Uni (one as a student, one as staff) tacked on an extra couple of days in order to facilitate a border-crossing adventure.
Now, before you get too excited, it was just a domestic/internal border, but even that has been a challenge for the last couple of years.
So when we were trying to figure out the best way to get to Queensland to see my in-laws, and to celebrate our son’s 21st the same week, he came up with a solution: we’d all go to the Sunshine Coast to visit Nanna and Grandpa, and then we’d stop by Movie World on the way home to mark his milestone birthday.
Ever optimistic, we also planned a couple of fun stops on the way home, including a visit with my Aunt and Uncle and going to see The Phantom of the Opera on Sydney Harbour.
Just before all that kicked off, though, I spent my Saturday in Batemans Bay with our team at the launch of the Wattle Walk, a community art project to mark the beginnings of bushfire recovery; which has somewhat ironically been been delayed by another large scale disaster, Covid.
So on the Friday I went to the launch of the Southern Shoalhaven Country University Centre in Ulladulla, then headed to the bay to help plant 7000 woolen wattle branches, and then finally we headed North.
The Wattle Walk was a big hit locally. We ran craft workshops on Saturday, and were pleasantly surprised at how many people came out, despite the ongoing rainy weather we’ve been experiencing. The installation was actually extended by a week at the request of the Eurobodalla Regional Botanic Garden, who were finding they were getting lots of new visitors and lots of positive feedback.
Heading North was a bit of an old-school road trip, with two “kids” in the back, ie my son and his partner. My daughter and her partner joined us at the Sunshine Coast. We had a nice little reunion with The Scottish Grandparents, but unfortunately Nanna was carrying the coronavirus and was not yet aware. We had the most amazing accommodation at Twin Waters, with plenty of rooms and living areas, including a great covered area on the ground floor where we could host the mobility-challenged for our Good Friday lunch.
The resort pool was slightly warmer than the unit’s one, and also boasted a lovely view of one of the eponymous Twin Waters.
Blissfully unaware of the virus hiding in plain sight, we enjoyed the random Good Friday fireworks (theologically speaking, that’s not a day of celebration, organisers!) and the Easter bunny arrived with chocolates and dorky pyjamas for all.
Easter Sunday was largely spent in a car, most of us contorted with knees around ears in order to accommodate 6 people and luggage, after several iterations of the travel plan were changed and/or abandoned.
Our Gold Coast accommodation was laid out like a rabbit warren, which fitted our pjyama theme, and quite dirty, which was horrifying. But hey, it had lovely views, so I guess they catch a lot of people once. I actually wrote a review to this effect, but it seems to have mysteriously disappeared from the website. Go figure.
Rob had a pre-birthday dinner and cake to accommodate his sister’s flight on the evening of his actual birthday, which we topped off with a visit to Holey Moley.
We headed to Movie World as planned, and discovered that while the number of visitors was back to pre-pandemic levels, the number of operational rides and the staff on deck probably weren’t. Tony and I went into the 4D theatre and had lunch, and spent the rest of the day sitting on a park bench. The young people were in queues from park open to park close, and made it onto two rides.
By this time, however, Tony was starting to feel very ordinary indeed, so it was possibly a good time to be sitting quietly by ourselves.
Right after we arrived in Coffs Harbour–meant to be Step 1 of our leisurely journey home–Tony got a positive Covid result, joining his parents, 13 others on his mum’s ward, and his sister among those who’d got an unwanted Easter bonus. Our daughter and her partner would soon join those ranks.
So long story short, it was a long and unexciting trip home, after dismantling and cancelling all the fun activities. Followed by disinfecting every surface in the car (twice!) and a week of offering room service to the patient, who was confined to his bedroom.
The return to working on campus was equally eventful. Day 1 was setting up for Shoalhaven Graduation, Day 2 was Shoalhaven Graduation, and Day 4 involved traveling to Wollongong for the first on-campus and in-person graduation in over two years, where the student I supervised was awarded her PhD.
Special times, indeed.