When I first read about Jervis Bay, I found that it is a popular holiday destination, and I really wanted to see the beaches, but never thought that our lockdown would be in Jervis Bay. I never would have guessed that we would be stuck in lockdown there for three months!
How it all happened, and what we did during our lockdown in Jervis Bay, I would like to tell you.
A Housesit in Jervis Bay
Jervis Bay is blessed with dazzling beaches as well as numerous excursions. It is no wonder that the area in and around Jervis Bay is so popular. In the months of May to October, whale watching is possible. Shoalhaven also has the “100 Beach Challenge”. As the name suggests, there are 100 beaches here, and one beach is more beautiful than the others. Add several national parks that are nearby, and the whitest beach in the world, Hyams Beach, and you have a dream destination!
On the housesitting website Happy House Sitters, I found a housesit in Woollamia, located just 3 km from Huskisson which is in Jervis Bay. However, the housesit started two days too early for us and was out of the question. I still marked it as a favorite, but we didn’t apply.
The next day, something happened that I interpreted as a sign. The pet owner had written directly to us! She asked us if we would like to sit for her fur-family, and we agreed without hesitation. That meant a bit of stress and that we wouldn’t be able to see the Sydney Zoo and the Blue Mountains, but I really wanted to go to Jervis Bay. But since her dogs and cats looked so sweet, all my common senses were switched off.
So, we threw out our plans, and drove at warp speed from The New South Wales Golf Club in Sydney to Jervis Bay so we could be there on time for the housesit!
The Rock Band
When we arrived in Jervis Bay, we stopped in Huskisson, affectionately called Husky by the locals, and enjoyed a coffee.
The view was so beautiful, and we were so happy to be here.
After coffee, we drove to find a nice place for an afternoon snack. At Huskisson Beach, we found exactly what we were looking for. We parked Putu, opened the back door so we could enjoy the best view of the sparkling sea, and read for an hour.
Afterward, we went to Woollamia to meet “Bear, Marley, Groovy, Harry and the Fish“.
For us, it sounded like the name of a rock band, and we were eager to meet the stars. It was a sunny and great day!
The Snowball Effect
As we arrived, we were warmly greeted by the owner. She invited in, to sit down and have a glass of wine together. By the time we finished dinner, the rock band was already in our hearts.
Then came a phone call…
By the look on her face, we could guess that something was wrong. We then learned what had happened.
Her flight was canceled. The coronavirus, which was now more and more in the news, continued spreading and the situation was worsening. All over the world, it now was also in Australia.
Nevertheless, she decided to drive to visit some friends and left the next day. We spent a week with the rock band and watched the news with anxiousness as more and more restrictions were being made every day. We soon realized that travel as we knew it, was no longer possible.
Worried, we wondered what to do. We decided to ask the owner via a phone call if she would be willing to rent out the other half of her house, which was empty. She said yes, and we moved into our new apartment on the day of her return.
The virus was nonstop in the news. Each day we heard about how many people were dying all over the world, and that a vaccine would not be found anytime soon. In Australia, living in a campervan had been banned, and the campsites were closed. Only visits to the doctor or going for groceries were allowed. We were scared. What should we do? Should we travel back to Germany, where the Corona crisis was even more severe? Which would also put my parents in danger? For us, that was out of the question.
At that time, we had no idea how long the lockdown would last. But we decided that it was the safest option for us to stay in Australia for the time being. And we were more than happy that we had found an inexpensive apartment.
Our New Home
On the first day, we mopped and cleaned our new home. The “move” itself was quick. Our new landlord had lent us two chairs, a super cool retro-fridge, a thick blanket, and an air mattress. We added our camper table, our clothes, kitchen utensils, and the few contents of our campervan refrigerator into the apartment. We had everything we needed. Hello minimalism!
Even though the apartment looked quite sparse, we were happy to have a roof over our heads.
After everything was organized, we made a to-do list.
Now we had time to write on our blogs, to upload our photos, and maybe even to learn Spanish. Our list was getting longer and longer, and we were happy about it. We started our days on YouTube with yoga with my old Pilates teacher Hannah from Nuremberg.
Then we went on walks with Bear and Marley and cuddled with them. Going for walks was still allowed, and we took advantage of it. The days came and went, and soon we felt like we were going crazy. But wait a minute! Only three days had passed!
Toilet Paper Madness
You also probably could not believe it… why was everyone buying toilet paper like crazy?? We still don’t understand it. Except, we knew that we didn’t have any anymore! Our landlord gave us a roll, but we needed to find some more. And soon! It took us two weeks to finally be able to buy only four rolls. I never thought one day that I would have to count the individual sheets of a toilet paper roll to make it last. Oh my!
Bear and Marley
Just as going to the grocery store was classified as essential, so too was “exercising” considered essential.
But what all was considered essential? Walking your dog, for example, was. After a few weeks, we started driving with Bear and Marley regularly to Hyams Beach. Hyams Beach is not only supposed to have the whitest sand in the world, but it also invites you to swim and snorkel. And if you walk the entire length of the bay, you have taken almost 10,000 steps. Our sweethearts Bear and Marley were at least as happy as we were to be able to go to Hyams Beach, and we shared wonderful moments on the beach.
Every day we walked together and enjoyed our empty beach. Only during the weekends did we not go so that we could avoid any crowds.
Meanwhile, Husky had turned into a ghost town. All the shops were now closed, and the streets were empty.
During this time of the lockdown, we were glad to have made true friends in Bear and Marley.
My happy moment was when Marley looked up at us during our morning walks with a charming smile while panting. I loved this look from her! And to cuddle with her.
The Fear of Uncertainty
After a few weeks, we decided to buy our own air mattress. For a moment, I even thought about whether we should invest in a proper mattress. But they were so expensive, and we still held out hope that we would be able to travel again soon.
Our landlord had told us that we could stay as long as we needed to and we thanked her for her generosity.
We had also met her boyfriend, who helped us build our first shelf. Our barren apartment slowly became something more homely. Even though we had hope that we could travel again soon, deep inside we knew that it would take a while before we could sing loudly “On the Road Again”.
Then the boyfriend of our landlord, had a surprise for us. He had a bed with a mattress that he could lend to us.
During this time, we watched the news every night before going to bed. On our TV (YES, we had a TV in the bedroom!) we heard nothing but coronavirus 24 hours a day. Secluded from the world in Woollamia, it wasn’t the best thing that we could do for our psyche. And especially before sleeping. But we wanted to keep up-to-date, and to know what was happening outside of Australia.
I think the worst thing for us was that we didn’t know what was coming and when. Or how it would continue. Uncertainty plagued us.
A little bit of fear
We were scared. We were afraid of getting too close to other people. Fear that we would have to stay in the apartment for a long time. And fear that travel would never be the way that it used to be. We hated not being able to decide for ourselves when and where we would go next. And we hated having to admit to ourselves that our plan of going back to Germany in August was an illusion of the past.
A visit to the supermarket had become a nightmare for us. I hated it when we had to go shopping. It seemed like everybody was coughing, and they all came way too close to us. The news and the events were taking their toll on us. I felt sick every time after going to the supermarket. The skin on my hands was cracking from the thousands of washings, and my disinfectant consumption was going through the roof!
Even now, I still don’t understand how people could stubbornly reach out to shake hands claiming, “I don’t have coronavirus.” They put us in a difficult situation and don’t see that we just don’t want close contact.
The positive sides
While people all over the world were dying, our concern for our families was growing, and the uncertainty of everything still plagued us, we tried to see the positive side.
It seemed that air pollution had decreased during the lockdown. We saw pictures of the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall of China with clear blue skies! We heard that dolphins had been spotted again in the Bosporus and that the water in Venice was as clear as crystal.
As bears frolicked in an abandoned Yosemite National Park, we witnessed how strong and wonderful nature is. During one of our walks at Hyams Beach, we saw dolphins. The ocean sparkled as clear as glass and was in every variation of blue imaginable. And the air seemed so clean that I couldn’t get enough of it. It was delicious to breathe in the fresh air and I would have loved to remain on the beach day and night.
What we as humans destroy is our greatest treasure! Even if it sounds tough, but since people had been “locked away,” nature had been able to care for itself. And the earth had the opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief. And that was the best thing that happened during this time
Thought: What would happen if the world’s population had a month of lockdown every three months? No cars, no polluting and no tourism. Would that help our environment?
White Sands Walk
So, the days passed by. After a few weeks, we decided to take the White Sands Walk. We drove to Husky and parked near Greenfield Beach.
The White Sands Walk is a beautiful walk that takes you through a forest and then onto Nelsons Beach, Blenheim Beach, Greenfield Beach, Chinamans Beach, and Hyams Beach. Since we often went to Hyams Beach, we enjoyed the other beaches on our walk.
Tip: if you are in Huskisson, you must take this easy but beautiful and picturesque walk.
Ella comes into our lives
In the first week of our housesit, we saw a Cocker Spaniel puppy that was sitting on a neighbor’s balcony. I immediately noticed her. Meanwhile, two months had passed, and I finally dared to ask our landlord if she by chance knew the owners of the black puppy. Not only did she know them, but they were best friends! We asked her to find out if it would be ok if we could walk the puppy.
And they said yes! Afterward, we visited Ella every day.
The first time we meet Ella, she was so excited that she peed on us! Luckily, that stopped after a few days. Full of energy, adorable, beautiful, and clumsy, she conquered our hearts.
Our first walks with her were very exhausting. But she is a smart girl and quickly learned the word “sit!”. Even though her energy was boundless, and we were exhausted after walking her, I couldn’t imagine a day without her.
Meanwhile, grocery stores began stocking toilet paper again, delivery services were operating, and restaurants began offering takeaway.
We continued to go on walks with Bear and Marley even if it was not as often.
Looking back, I think this might have been some self-protection. I needed to distance myself from Marley. I loved her so much and knew that saying goodbye would be extremely hard.
Bear and Marley gave us loving companionship during a difficult time. We were happy to have made loyal friends in them. They gave us so much joy that all the horrible events going on in the world seemed so far away! And even though we weren’t able to play and cuddle with them as much in the last month as we wanted, they will always remain in our hearts. We miss them every day!
More Ella Time
That also meant that we had more time for Ella and spent several hours a day with her.
She thanked us with kisses and looks of endearment. At seven months old, she was so cute, and my maternal instincts were dangerously awakened. I was hopelessly in love with her.
When her mom joked with us to “take her with you in your campervan, then she sees Australia”, I just wanted to grab Ella and take her with me. Instead, her photo, which I glued above my passenger seat, now travels with me.
Needless to say, our farewell broke my heart.
But First Coffee
On the first of June, the government announced that traveling within the state of New South Wales was allowed again! Campsites gradually began to reopen, and a sense of normality returned. Of course, there were still many rules regarding security measures for COVID-19.
We decided not to travel immediately because we were still scared and wanted to see if a second wave would come. But we wanted to go for coffee!
For our first café visit, we brought Ella with us. Just three months ago, going to a café was normal. Never would we have imagined that going to a coffee shop would not be allowed. But now, things had changed. We had to sign in with our name, phone number, and email address as we arrived. The tables were limited and were required to maintain a certain distance from each other. Each store offered hand sanitizer available for use upon entering and exiting. The “new normal” didn’t feel so normal to us. But the coffee sure tasted great!
We started making plans where we would travel first.
We landed two incredibly great house sits for August and September down in Victoria in Rosebud and Phillip Island. But first, we decided to travel to The Hinterland of New South Wales and then back to the east coast down to Melbourne. And to play all the great golf courses in Melbourne that we couldn’t play during the Presidents Cup.
Unfortunately during our last few weeks in Jervis Bay, the Boderee National Park which we really wanted to see was still closed. While on lockdown, we only saw Huskisson, Vincentia, and some nearby beaches such as Seven Mile Beach, Currarong Beach, Shark Net Beach, Huskisson Beach, Moona Moona Beach and Collingwood Beach.
But before we were to go to the Hinterland, we took a day trip to Kangaroo Valley. The nearby Fitzroy Waterfall was still closed, however, so we weren’t able to stop.
We go golfing
After a long time, golf finally was considered “essential” again, and so we went to play at the Gerringong Golf Club. While there, we took the opportunity to visit the nearby Seven Mile Beach.
As much as we love Hyams Beach, it was nice to be able to see something different. We soaked in every second, watching seagulls and the happy dogs that came to meet us. We even saw a horse on the beach.
After playing Gerringong, we also played at Mollymook Golf Club, which I particularly enjoyed. Not only because the golf course is in a sweet little beach town, but also because Ella joined us for the day.
Out of Lockdown
We were so happy as we could finally leave our cold apartment on the 20th of June and to continue our journey and the adventures which we missed for three months!
We could have started three weeks earlier, which maybe we should have done. But the extra time allowed us to think about what we should do next. Besides the fear of getting sick, one of the worst things for us during lockdown was not being able to decide for ourselves when and where we could travel to next. This was something that was stolen from us by the deadly virus. We struggled to cope with the fact that we no longer could decide for ourselves what to do when and how. Some days it was much worse than others.
Looking back on it now as I sit here writing about our time in lockdown, I have to say: staying put those three extra weeks was the right thing!
Victoria is now in an absolute lockdown, a “state of disaster” it’s called. Nobody is allowed to leave the state. A curfew is in effect. And the number of infections and deaths is increasing every day. We canceled the two house sits in Rosebud and Phillip Island. And if we hadn’t waited those three extra weeks, we would be in the middle of it now!
Instead, we decided to drive up to Queensland, where in two days the borders from New South Wales will close again.
They say that there is a sense behind everything. But we don’t see the sense behind this virus.
It comforts us though that at least the earth could breathe and rest for some time.
One thing we always say is that we appreciate everything that comes with travel. Nature, the different cultures, and how extremely fortunate we are to be able to experience all of this. The lockdown stressed to us how precious life is. And once again how lucky we are. It hopefully also reminded all of us that we only have this one planet that we must protect. We hope that the lockdown has provoked some people. Namely, the awareness that it is in our hands to care and preserve for this treasure. We only have this one earth. With all its beauties, its animals and plants.
I must admit that I have struggled to write about our lockdown in Jervis Bay. I really couldn’t put into words the fear that we experience at the time. The fear that something could happen to our families. And the fear that we might get infected and would never be able to hold our new baby nephew in our arms.
Every day I tried to block out the bad things and just see the beautiful things. Like the smile of Marley, the eyes of Ella, or the glittering of the ocean when the sun hits the water. I still am fearful when someone comes too close to us. I hope that too will pass at some point.
James and I encouraged each other each day. We told each other that everything will be fine and that it is how it is meant to be. That it will take a little longer for us to see our families again. And that the most important thing is that everyone is healthy.