They Closed the Borders ….. AGAIN!!

“Victoria-NSW border to close for the first time in 100 years as Melbourne coronavirus cases hit record daily high” – this is the headline from the SBS News report, dated 7 July 2020, and it comes as Victoria is just beginning another six weeks of lockdown to try get COVID-19 under control.

Anyway that headline intrigued me, as I was curious about the previous border closure … so I headed to Trove to see what I could find.

And what an amazing article I found. Talk about history repeating itself … just have a read of this article from South Australian newspaper, The Register, dated 3 February 1919. You can see the original article here. Please note, the red highlight is my emphasis, not that of the original article.

 —The Spanish Flu—

No one desires to minimise the horrors or the epidemic which has swept over the world, nor the necessity for precautions, but it would seem that if ever fear was worse than the disease, the present is the occasion. The Federal Quarantining Department kept the disease out of the country for months. Australia has had ample warning, and advantage from the experience of other countries.

The Commonwealth and State authorities met last November, and planned, a joint course of action. The Sydney doctors diagnosed their cases as the real thing; the Melbourne doctors were still using big words, and unable to make up their minds. Now both States have been declared infected, but New South Wales will not admit Victorian passengers, because Melbourne was responsible for the trouble, and Queensland, not to be out of the fuss, is asking the despised Commonwealth Government to lend it a body of Light Horse to patrol its border against New South Wales. Incidentally it may be recalled that the Queensland Government did nothing to help reinforce the Light Horse when they were at grips with the human enemy in Syria, Palestine, and elsewhere.

Like South Australia, the Queensland Government is certainly within its rights and within the agreement of last November in protecting itself, but it is carrying the never-dying jealousy of the two big States to extremes when they cut all passenger and goods communication between their respective infected areas, merely because “The reason why, I cannot tell. I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.”

But as for the poor public, there seems every effort to create a real scare. Sydney says that all must wear masks, and in Melbourne the picker-up of unconsidered sixpences is selling bits of useless gauze, or mosquito net, with a couple of tapes attached, like the proverbial hot cakes.

The people clamour to be vaccinated, or inoculated, with the “dope,” which may or may not cure, but which certainly makes some people feel ill. If we cover our mouths and noses with six suffocating layers of gauze and never take them off, whether to eat, or drink, or curse, or pray aloud, we are “theoretically” immune, though there are some who think we may get infection through the eyes or through the ears.

If private enterprise can do no better than this, one need not marvel that the most sincere individualist thinks nationalized medicine could not be worse. Two women doctors alone stand out in Melbourne with the simple advice—let in the fresh air, keep clean, don’t crowd, and where possible do your business through the mails, telegraphs and telephones, so as to avoid unnecessary personal contact.

One alarmist newspaper gives publicity to the questions of whether we have got enough medicine bottles, whether we have prepared to bury the dead, and feed the living. An official doctor wants us to be ready for a “huge epidemic.” There is nothing of the “silent navy” about these good folks. One could wish there were. Let them prepare, by all means, but publicity of scaresome possibilities is the best calculated means of ensuring the worst results. The Federal quarantine authorities remain moderately silent among the uproar. ls it too much to suggest that Mr. Massy Greene might signal his entry into his first real Ministerial office by preaching the doctrine of restraint and courage.


Sounding familiar? It does, doesn’t it. Sounds remarkably like news reports we’ve been hearing over the past few months.

In searching further I found that Dr Peter Hobbins, medical historian, and expert in the Spanish Flu at the Department of History at the Universty of Sydney, says that …

“there are some striking parallels between 2020 and 1919”. He says that during that time “New South Wales imposed drastic restrictions on its residents; closing schools, churches, entertainment venues and important events such as agricultural shows and victory parades.” And “for the first time in my career, I feel a real sense of what could be called ‘historical déjà vu’, in living through the COVID-19 lockdown”.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Spanish Flu and the impact it had on Australia, be sure to check out this website, as it is packed with information.

So now I have to say, this has me more intrigued than ever to find out how my ancestors coped and made it through the Spanish Flu pandemic. Health wise, job wise, social wise? Remember, they didn’t have tv, computers or social media to even keep in touch with friends. So, it’ll be interesting to learn more about it … and gives me more research to do!!

Caption for cover picture: The influenza quarantine camp set up at Jubilee Oval, Adelaide, South Australia during the epidemic of 1919 – SLSA [PRG 280/1/9/374]

Crazy Month of May 2020 Meme: My Pandemic Experiences

It’s been a while since I’ve taken part in a blog challenge, but good friend and blogger Pauleen (aka Cassmob) came up with one that I just had to take part in. It’s the “Crazy Month of May 2020 Meme: My Pandemic Experiences

She writes:

“It occurred to me that perhaps we should have a meme which captures our response to the hopefully-once-in-a-lifetime May that we’ve just navigated….it might be a way to preserve the tip of our experiences. Remember that many blogs are being archived in Pandora so perhaps this is a way for our descendants to learn about our experiences during the covid-19 crisis.”

So here’s my responses:

What are you most grateful for during this covid-19 crisis?
I would have to say I’m thankful that I still have a job when so many now don’t, but also that most people in my area are doing the right thing with social distancing, which of course helps stop the spread of coronavirus.

What have you missed most during the full or partial lock-down?
As an introvert I love being home, but just now and then it’s nice to randomly go out for a meal. So that is something I have missed.

Has your hobby sustained you during this time?
While not sure if you’d class it as a hobby, keeping an eye on my local wildlife (koalas and kangaroos) and enjoying them coming around, makes me happy, and is a stress reliever. But as for actual hobbies, I haven’t had time for them recently …

What changes have you seen in your life over May 2020?
Work is BUSY, BUSY, BUSY!!! I work in a family history business, and it has been non-stop crazy busy over the past few months. So clearly those in lockdown have been getting stuck into researching. I know there are newbies who have just started, while others have picked it back up after putting it aside for years, and then there’s the non-stop researchers have enjoyed the ‘stuck at home time’ to research as well. So all up, there’s a LOT of family tree research going on.

Have you been exercising more or less?
I would say no change actually. I do some, but should always do more.

Has the refrigerator been your friend or foe?
Due to not going out for meals, there is more food in the fridge. But I’ve been good and haven’t food binged.

Have you been participating in virtual gatherings with friends or family?
Work meetings are now done by Zoom, so that’s been handy.

Have you taken up new hobbies during the lockdowns?
Again … no time for new or existing hobbies at present.

Are you cooking or gardening more?
Maybe a bit more of both, but the gardening is more because of the time of year, as it now needs it.

Have you shopped more or less? Online or offline?
I’ve been grocery shopping more … in person since it’s close to my work. But other shopping (clothes, shoes, hardware, etc.) no, not at all. In fact I’ve probably done less regular shopping than normal.

What have you found to be the strangest change to your life?
Not so much a change, but an observation that I found werid. When the lockdowns first came into effect in Australia (end of March), and only essential travel was allowed (ie. supermarkets and docors), to see the line-ups for the supermarket was very odd.

Have you found the changes and experience stressful/anxious/worrying?
I think I’m fine personally, but I know some people are jack of the whole subject of it, and are ready to argue/lecture about it. While I can see a lot of people are anxious about it as well. And why wouldn’t they be. There’s a disease out there, that doesn’t always show symptoms, and you don’t know if you have it, and are unknowingly spreading it, or the if ther person next to you has it.

How have the closures affected your local community?
I’m sure the lockdowns and closures of businesses will have had a big impact on numerous small businesses and probably sports clubs too. But nothing immediately identifiable at present.

Have in-person meetings been replaced with virtual meetings via Zoom, Skype etc?
Yes, fortunatley.

Do you enjoy the virtual meeting format?
It works fine, and is so much better than having to travel to go to a meeting, then travel home.

Are you working from home instead of in your usual place of work?
I was working from home for a few weeks when lockdown first came in. That was nice as I was able to work, while also seeing the local wildlife that comes to visit during the day (ie. our regular koalas and kanagaroos), but I’m now back in the shop everyday.

Have your habits changed over the past months?
Not excessively, though I do have more hand sanitizer around than I used to.

Have you had to cancel travel plans for work, pleasure or family?
I was on a work cruise that got cut short, and was due to fly to Queensland shortly after that for an event – all just before the lockdowns in Australia came into effect. Obviously both of those were cancelled.

Do you think you’ll be able to travel in 2020?
I believe Australia and New Zealand travel will be do-able later this year. As for other countries … time will tell. But hopefully later in 2021 I think is more likely.

Have you/others been wearing masks when out and about in your area?
I haven’t been, and very few people do in my area. But we are relatively ‘safe’ with no current cases, and no local cases for about 30 days now.

Will you change your lifestyle after this experience?
I don’t believe so. But maybe just be more tolerant of others (though I think to think that I was anyway), because you don’t know what they are going through (thoughts, fears, current situation).


Just some final thoughts in relation to my observations during the pandemic… seeing hand sanitizer available to use at every shop you go in, seeing the 1.5m social distancing signs on the floors in shops has now become normal. Having take-away food only (no sit down meals available). Visting your local coffee shop, and seeing the chairs and tables stacked up. Having the playgrounds closed, movie theatres, amusement parks, libraries, genealogy societies, museums, archives, department stores and small clothing stores, beauticians, tattoo stores, pubs all closed as well, until just recently – when they’ve started reopening in limited ways. Then there were all the events that got cancelled .. including the Tokyo Olympics, Anzac Day, every sport Australia wide, social get-together meetings as well as work ones … it goes on.

After the horrors of the Australian bushfires over November-December-January, no-one thought there would be anything ‘bigger’. But seeing the devastation and heartbreak from friends and others around, who’ve either had the virus themselves and survived, or have loved ones who didn’t – there are no words.

Coronavirus has changed the world. It is a global catastrophe on both the health scale, as well as the economic scale. While no doubt some things would have been done differently in hindsight, I still don’t think to world was prepared in any way to cope with a pandemic of this scale. And yet the heath authorities tell us we’re still in the first wave.

People say the ‘heroes’ of this pandemic are those in the health industry (the doctors, nurses, those in the labs, the researchers and so on), and absolutely they are doing their best to help you recover once youre sick, but the other ‘heroes’ are all the individuals who have been self isolating at home for months now. They have forgone seeing family and friends in person, and who by doing so have been doing their bit to help not spread the virus.

Please, stay safe my friends.

The Day the World Changed

There has been numerous key dates over the years (or decades, and in reality centuries) which have been defining, and have changed the course of history, or life as people know it. … wars, fires, plagues, assassinations, accidents, deaths and so on.

Everyone has their own “key dates” for various reasons.

But for me, 14 March 2020 is that day.

Why this date?

Well I was on a cruise ship with a whole bunch of geniemates, on the way to Tasmania as part of the Unlock the Past genealogy cruise. But, again why?

Well, it was the day that the captain of the Pacific Aria ship advised passengers, that 3 days into our 8 day cruise, we would not be going to Tasmania as planned, but instead heading straight back to Adelaide (where the ship came from). This was due to all P&O cruise ships “pausing” their operations as a precautionary measure in regards to the Coronavirus.

Of course I’d heard of the Coronavirus before then, it had been in the news. But it wasn’t BIG news. But with each passing day, it certainly became so.

While it began in China back in December 2019, it had reached Australia.

The numbers of those infected kept rising. The deaths started happening. So the cruise ships stopped. The planes cut flights. State borders were closed. Mandatory 14 day quarantine was introduced. Pubs, clubs, gyms, even playgrounds were closed and so on. The world HAD changed … all just within a few days.

“Self isolation” and “social distancing” became the new key words.

Pretty much every country in the world is faced with this pandemic. But when it gets to your own country, your own area, it really hits home.

Prior to leaving on the cruise, life seemed pretty normal, however coming back after those few days away – there’s no doubt that it had changed. The supermarkets were insane. While food is obviously a necessity, you really needed to be brave to go there. I made a comment to someone recently that this pandemic has brought out the best in some people with their kindness and generosity, but sadly the worst in others.

It’s going to be months … most likely many months, before life resembles what it was. But this graphic pretty much sums it up …

Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Stay isolated not only for your own safety, but for the safety of others as well.

And while we ‘re self isolating, keep a journal. Can you imagine reading a journal written my your grandparents or great grandparents of their experiences during the war or even the Great Depression. It would be an eye opener for sure, and something you would treasure. So keep a journal detailing your own thoughts and experiences in this life changing moment in history.

And for all of the people who never have enough time to do your own research (myself included) … let’s do this. It’s the perfect opportunity to get some research done. Some scanning, of filing that “pile” of paperwork etc. etc … make the most of your time. [Note, I’m actually telling myself this (not just you), so let’s see how we all go in a few months time].


P.S. For the record, I don’t know of anyone that was sick (other than seasick) on the Pacific Aria during our cruise, and haven’t heard of anyone who was on that ship having tested positive for COVID-19 since returning home … though sadly I know others on other ships weren’t so fortunate.