2020 WTF happened?
We’ll all remember that day and where we were when we realised 2020 was going to be a shitshow. So what was life before the pandemic like?
Life in Australia Before the Pandemic
My partner and I had been living together in Sydney house sitting full-time and we had already gone through the devastating Australian black summer bushfires of 2019-20.
Sydney was filled with smoke most days and that was just the knock-on effect from the places actually burning to death in every state of Australia.
Previous years of drought, high temperatures, lack of rainfall and climate change meant our whole country was kindling-ready. Then a summer of hot days and high winds erupted in a catastrophic burn that Australia had never seen in decades.
It was cataclysmic. There were fire thunderstorms, lightning strikes in the thousands and unpredictable winds.
It’s now known that the temperature in the stratosphere above Australia rose by 3 degrees Celsius.
More than 20 million hectares of forest and bushland were burnt and lost, along with 2-3 billion animals (mostly reptiles and terrestrial vertebrates) being injured or killed. Some endangered species were believed to be driven to extinction.
In addition, whilst battling these bushfires for months on end, over 3,000 buildings were destroyed and sadly, 33 people lost their lives directly, and a further 450 people died from smoke inhalation.
It was truly an experience I’ll never forget – for all the wrong reasons.
So onto the next apocalyptic event of 2020 – the pandemic.
Life Before the Pandemic – What Were We Doing in Our Travel Life?
NOTE: These are written as current-day reflections as of April 2020.
For the last year and a half in Sydney, we have been house-sitting full-time and we had a few amazing house sits booked in advance until the end of May 2020, in popular beachside suburbs such as Neutral Bay, Bondi and Maroubra.
I also had a temp admin job at Sydney University to supplement my online work. We’ve recently been featured in the Sydney Telegraph in a story about our house-sitting lifestyle.
Things were looking up.
Then… the pandemic kicked off.
When the Covid19 pandemic hit Australia in 2020, it wasn’t until March that lockdown happened and places started closing down.
In March, I lost my job, we had to move out of our current house sit, (homeowners had to cut their trip short and return home to quarantine), and one by one, our booked house sits cancelled.
So we were homeless in the space of a few days.
We found ourselves in Airbnb’s in Sydney that were expensive, unclean and had very high foot traffic – including incoming travellers – leaving us feeling like we were exposed to potential germs.
With the pandemic still very new, unknown and frightening, we frantically searched and found a spare room to move into – a complete stranger who was a friend of a house-sitting client.
However, currently, we have no jobs, and no income and we aren’t entitled to any financial support from the Australian government, as I’m on a partner visa and Grant is here as a New Zealand citizen.
Sydney is highly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, our state NSW has the highest number of infections and highest death rates out of the whole of Australia.
Currently, as of 14 April 2020, Australia has:
- 6,400 cases of CoVid-19
- 2,870 cases are in our state of NSW
- And sadly 61 deaths
On the plus side, we have also had:
- 3,598 that have recovered from CoVid-19
But we still don’t know enough about this virus to even try to recover once we have contracted it.
Sydney is at pandemic level 3 lockdown.
This pandemic era of life as we know it, is all new to us.
But in this new stage of pandemic awareness and manageability, Australia’s early coronavirus lockdown has created levels of lockdown based on severity.
So at Pandemic Level 3, all of the following are closed indefinitely:
- Bars and Restaurants
- Casinos and nightclubs
- Cinemas and entertainment venues
- Galleries and museums
- Libraries and community centres
- Swimming pools
- Gyms, boot camps and indoor sports venues
- Public playgrounds, outdoor gyms and skate-parks
- Outdoor & indoor markets
- Places of worship
- Most schools and colleges
- Non-essential shops
Supermarkets, pharmacies and utility stores are open, we can still get takeaway coffee and food, some malls are open with things like Kmart and Target open.
(Weirdly, all liquor stores are still open too, clearly, the Aussies deem these places essential shops! 😀 ).
And we can walk outside, use public transport and walk around in parks.
However, police officers do patrol the closed areas regularly though and are issuing fines for people loitering or hanging around in groups.
They have recently closed down many of the major or popular beaches in Sydney too; including Bondi, Coogee, Bronte and Maroubra beaches.
Beaches are part of my inner soul material, so I’m very sad about this, although I understand why it needs to be done.
My inner being is also crying over all the libraries being closed, they’re my creative sanctuary – I miss being able to go and work or read in a library.
Life Before the Pandemic. What Happens to Travellers or Digital Nomads Now?
In light of this CoVid-19 crisis, I’ve noticed a mass exodus of travellers from all over the world, returning to their home countries.
We’re here on long-term visas and were in New Zealand for a couple of years before this.
Our plan was to visit the UK in late May 2020. I wanted to see my Nan and my partner was going to attend his best friend’s wedding.
But that plan is screwed now.
Around mid-March, the British High Commission called for all UK citizens to return home. It’s a contentious subject as the British High Commission is not helping anyone get home.
And there are no processes in place for when we get home. No checks done, no places to go self-isolate etc.
Commercial flights out of Australia have almost stopped and there have only been special arrangements made with Qatar Airways, who are now allowing rescue flights to transit through Doha. Most countries won’t even let allow planes to transit through another country.
And the flights are insanely expensive due to the crisis. Which the British High Commission say isn’t their problem.
You’ve probably seen in the news that many countries are sending rescue flights to fly their citizens home. There are a lot of rescue flights taking people home from Australia. But the UK aren’t.
The UK has sent rescue flights to pick up citizens from Peru, India and Cambodia. But they’ve told anyone in Australia and New Zealand, not to expect help.
If you read my Facebook or IG updates, you’ll see why the situation is so volatile and how it sparks anger in many.
And the Australian government has recently announced that all temporary visa holders and sponsored workers should all leave Australia now, as we won’t be supported here during this crisis. Read the whole story on my Facebook profile.
So currently we are exploring options, whilst rapidly running out of funds.
What the FUCK happened to the world?!
I have been nomadic for years now and I have so much understanding and compassion for all of these people. And compassion is in short supply on this page – and it seems everywhere I look – since this pandemic kicked off.
We’ve been encountering snap judgements and uneducated comments such as “You deserve it because you chose to go and travel”.
Being nomadic or living on the road may be a lifestyle we chose, but no one deserves to suffer more, just because of the life decisions we’ve made.
None of these nomadic people are telling the people who lost their jobs & subsequently can’t afford their houses, “You deserve it, because you chose to buy a house & car and live a conventional life”.
We all live different lives, there should be no judgement. We all deserve human compassion, this is affecting us all in some way.
Most people who are being cruel are acting from a place of fear. They don’t understand it, so they just attack anything that seems ‘wrong’ or ‘not the norm’ in their opinion.
If you’ve ever had a thought like this cross your mind and commented as such, it’d be helpful if you just backed off with your cruel narrow-mindedness. Unless you have something positive to offer someone, as we all navigate this shit show.
Nobody knew this Covid-19 pandemic would happen and play out exactly the way it has.
Nobody has a backup plan for a global pandemic, we’re all doing our best.
And if you have a home, no matter how small, you have no idea how terrifying and unsettling it is to be experiencing this scary, unknown, health pandemic and economic breakdown – with no actual home to go ‘stay home’ in.
You can never know everyone’s unique situation and making sweeping generalisations and judgements publicly, just makes you look uneducated.
To all the Travellers, and RVers. VanLifers, Campers, Boat Nomads, Grey Nomads, Backpackers, House Sitters, the Homeless for whatever reason and the Unconventionalists, I hope you’re all going okay, and staying safe.
I’m thinking of you and sending you heaps of positive energy because I know what this life is like – especially when it gets tough.
I hope to meet many of you someday, on the road out there 😊
I will always stand with you all 💜🌏🚚🚐 ⛺️🎒⛵️