A little #covidsafe holiday

Last week the Dahlia family splashed out on a trip to Australia’s Snowy Mountains. Anyone who knows me will immediately laugh, because I’m not a fan of winter or cold, however, the Dahlia kids had never seen snow and we decided to have an adventure where we would experience something new.

Travelling during the COVID19 pandemic is an interesting experience, and one that was touched by guilt at being allowed to go as well as an excited air of “gosh we are really doing this!” Over a year ago, we booked a family trip to Italy. We saved for ages and planned and planned until we had the perfect itinerary. There was one problem. We were due to arrive in Italy at the end of March 2020 – the height of the outbreak there. Of course, the trip was cancelled, and as at August, we are still waiting on the last refund from the trip. Thankfully most things have been refunded, and we funneled some of those funds into a local trip instead.

The Snowy Mountains of NSW include Australia’s tallest mountain, Kosciuszko, and is about a five hour drive from our place in Sydney. We booked a house on Airbnb, but when we arrived, the place was filthy with cat and dog hair all over the couches and rubbish lying around outside the house. Sigh. Almost immediately I started to sneeze and get itchy, and it was obvious that my cat allergy was going to make it difficult to stay there. Note to self – don’t book “pet friendly” places again. We negotiated a refund but that left us stranded in a small town with nowhere to stay. Thankfully, we found a tiny apartment to rent with bunk beds in one room for the four Dahlia kids. Cozy! They settled in well, although Mr15 couldn’t fit his six-foot frame on the bed and had to sleep curled up!

The first mission on our first full day in Jindabyne was to drive up to Perisher and investigate snow. I overhead someone say that the name Perisher was because it’s the only ski resort around the world where the snow completely perishes each year. It’s an interesting thought but a quick internet search proved it wrong – the snow does disappear each year – the name is likely to come from a settler in the 1840s who wrote about a snow storm in the region, saying ‘what a perisher’.

Cold and Covid-safe in the carpark at Perisher!

The ski resort at Perisher had excellent COVID rules – no one was allowed into the buildings or on a ski lift without a face covering and the food hall had limited numbers with social distancing and everyone had to check in and out online. The Snowy Mountains are close to the border of NSW and Victoria; and Victoria was still in lockdown while we were travelling so it was brilliant to see the whole region taking the threat of the pandemic seriously.

We wandered through the snowy carpark and played in a quiet area away from everyone else. The restrictions meant we couldn’t do much, so we jumped back in the car and drove to Thredbo where we had lunch. Sleet and rain made the walk back to the car a bit miserable, and we spent the afternoon hanging out in our apartment reading books.

The next three days were the exciting ones. We hired skis and all the other gear required for skiing, bought lift passes, and proceeded to teach the kids how to ski. Mr14 confidently stated, “I don’t need lessons. I’ve seen skiing on TV and it looks easy.” The funny thing about confidence is that it takes someone a long way, and he figured it all out quickly. Before lunch on the first day, he was taking the T-bar further up the mountain, then spent the next two days riding all the chair lifts as far as he could and having a crack at all the easier level trails. He had enough sense not to do the advanced trails – thankfully! Mr15 is a naturally cautious person and he took a little longer to trust his own brakes, but once he had the gist of it, he was zooming down the mountain. Mr10 decided that riding the chair lift was the best thing in the world, and while he wasn’t that great at the actual skiing part, he rode the chair lift “sixteen times, fourteen on one day.” Miss8 had fun playing in the learner slopes, making snow angels, and generally chatting to everyone who would listen!

One evening, we ate dinner at an amazing Italian restaurant, and I overheard someone telling her friend all about how they’d moved out of the city to a rural town so they could afford to buy a house.
“On the first day, I decided to go for a swim at the local pool. I jumped in a lane and started swimming, and half way down, a woman stopped me and said, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Swimming.’ ‘We don’t share lanes in this town.’ The woman telling the story was so affronted, and then she changed the subject and moved on to her troubles with finding a house. I kept expecting the woman from the swimming pool to turn up again in her story, as a real estate agent perhaps or the neighbour, but the story went on and on about other things in the town and NOTHING. Eventually, she mentioned going to a hairdresser and I said, ‘Please be the hairdresser.’ Of course Mr Dahlia asked me what the heck I was talking about, and I had to explain that I’d been eavesdropping a whole conversation and the woman in the pool never appeared again. So disappointing! 🙂

Statue of Sir Paul Edmund de Strzelecki, local explorer

After three days of healthy and hearty exercise on the slopes, with the added benefit of not using our phones and therefore having an enforced break from work, we had only one day left in our adventure. We had a late lunch, then went for a walk along the edge of the lake. The lake was created in the 1950s when the Snowy Mountains Power Scheme was built, and the old town of Jindabyne was flooded and a new town built on the edge of the lake. The last few years of drought meant the lake level had dropped to the point where the tallest peak in the old town was visible in the lake as a small island of rocks.

Photo of the lake – all the sand should be underwater.

Getting away from our house and work for a week was so good for our mental health, and while it wasn’t Italy, it was still something different and an experience to treasure.

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