March & April 2020: Australia: Gold Coast


We complied with the COVID-19 rules.

STAGE 3 RESTRICTIONS. We bobbed around behind South Stradbroke Island, between Main Beach and Runaway Bay.

Queensland Police patrolled the area to ensure boats didn’t move around. Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) patrolled the area to ensure boats moved around. Go figure. Seven-day limits apply to anchorages in the Gold Coast Broadwater and apparently no pandemic would stop MSQ from their important work enforcing these time limits.

MSQ would motor through an anchorage, snap photos and threaten to issue infringement notices. Unsettled, we would move along. En route to the next anchorage, police on jet skis or in speed boats would buzz us. “Why are you on the water?” they’d ask. Generally, the officials were pleasant, though one policeman did say he was “sending us home, off the water“… Hmmm…

Sunsets were glorious.

Dolphins played ‘catch fish’.

BUMS BAY. Arguably the best anchorage in the world: 358 degrees protection, surf breaks (including a world-class wave for the skipper), beautiful beaches, paths to scoot, trails to jog.

It became even better when the Gold Coast City Council closed The Spit.

Cartwheels dominated the roads.

Curlews ruled the carparks.

BIRTHDAY. Our fierce and fun-loving firecracker turned six.

It was her year for a party.

But. You know. COVID-19.

We spent the day at the beach.

And partied, social-distancing* with grandparents and Sushi.

*The term ‘social distancing’ gives me the heebie-jeebies. I appreciate it’s important not to spread germs by getting in people’s faces, but why the goofball label? What’s wrong with giving people ‘personal space’?

Several days before the Stage 3 Restrictions, a woman swore at us out her car window as she passed the beach near MUSCAT 7. The gist of the woman’s trashy slur was we weren’t taking COVID-19 seriously. Ironically, we were in our ‘backyard’ and she was at least 5 km from hers, and had travelled out of her way to be there – no-one lives at The Spit and it’s not a through road. People can behave in unkind ways when they are scared. Sigh.

Willow was bemused, then excited to learn “two new swear words and how to use them in a sentence!”

Remote school. Tick.

STRADDIE. Peak–trough–peak–trough–peak–trough–peak. Our favourite surf pattern.

One day on our way to the surf, a police helicopter flew low above us and Hazel whispered: “Should we hide in the bushes Mummy?

Oh dear.

No darling, we haven’t done anything wrong. We aren’t sick. We aren’t near anyone. We’re on our way to exercise.


Baby steps with my new trainer kite.

EASTER. Australians camp at Easter.

FISHING. Fishing was permitted in Queensland during the Stage 3 Restrictions. A rod in the dinghy, visible, kept the authorities off our backs.

SCHOOL HOLIDAYS. We found the holidays to be the toughest, without the structure of school, and with nowhere to go.

ZOOM Monopoly games with Nana and the cousins helped.

As did creating obstacle courses to reach shore.

And ‘theme days’ – zoo-day, building-day, dance-day, science-day – you get the picture.

RISKING OUR LIVES TO SAVE A LIVELIHOOD. Formerly known as ‘getting a haircut’.

MOTHERS DAY. I scored emergency LED navigation lights. Win.

LIFE. Restrictions eased.

THE BOAT WORKS. We checked-in to The Boat Works and prepared MUSCAT 7 for cruising.

We heard a yacht broker drove a launch into the dock, then reversed into two catamarans in marina berths. It happened in front of the launch’s new owners who were standing on the dock. The sale fell through. Oh dear. Boats.

Again, we crossed paths with DRAGONFLY, the Google boat.



Weather by Jenny Offill is a stunning meditation for our times. It’s about a woman. She has a husband and a young child, and a job as a secretary handling emails about ecological disaster and global heating, and a brother who’s a drug addict. I found it a calming read. I really did. Bizarre. I love and respect sleep and highly recommend Why We Sleep. This book will change your life. I particularly love it endorses my joy of an afternoon nap. Sweetness and Light I would have enjoyed when I was a backpacker on the SE Asian trail in my early 20s. Now in my early 40s, I found the tale contrived and naff. I didn’t like Normal People, at all.


Willow joined the Wolf Girl fan club. She read through a Roald Dahl box set – she liked Danny the Champion of the World, James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr Fox, and The Twits and thought they were funny. Harry Potter #2 did not disappoint. “It was better than the first one,” she said. The Faraway Tree stories remained magical, even on the fourth read, and The 117-Storey Treehouse “cracked [her] up”. The Babysitters Club books were “OK”. She didn’t like Geronimo or Selby Splits.


Hazel’s favourite was Isabel and Cloud because the characters “were so wonderful and flew up in the sky together and had so much fun together, and they were kind and saved each other from mean giants.” She loved Peter Rabbit because he was “smart and careful and brave.” She also loved Danny the Champion of the World because Danny “was smart and brave and kind to his dad.” She didn’t like Geronimo because “it was too messy and didn’t make sense.”