UPDATE: The difference a few hours makes! I posted up the blog story below a few hours ago. But a new Covid incursion has just been announced this afternoon – and it’s now masks on in all indoor venues (apart from the home) in Perth, WA, from 6pm tonight as an all out contact tracing operation gets underway to stop the spread. No lockdowns yet within the State, but people deemed as possible contacts are being ordered to self quarantine.
We don’t have the mask mandate in our region south of Perth, but with half of the city emptying for festive/summer holidays in our area, I expect it will be masks on soon!
Unfortunately, the person who arrived from Queensland before our borders tightened up has been in Western Australia since December 12 and has been to crowded places such as cinemas and nightclubs. So not such a Covid free Xmas week for me after-all. I’m leaving the story up anyway for you to read.
As Omicron, the new variant of Covid, rampages across the world and tough measures including new lockdowns are reintroduced in some countries, I am very privileged to be enjoying a covid free Xmas week in Western Australia.
We are not in lockdown within our State – I haven’t seen anyone masked since last February when a Covid scare led to a short lockdown over a week. Since February, we have had no lockdowns.
In this Covid plagued world, Western Australia is a Shangri-La – free of any Covid infection spread in our community.
The price we’ve paid to achieve this has been to lock ourselves into our State, and lock out the rest of the world – including our fellow Australian States where the new variant is rapidly increasing as they open their borders. We have become a ‘hermit kingdom’.
At times in the past two years, travel was possible between us and some Australian States – and even New Zealand – with strict quarantine conditions and special permission passes. But that’s all out the window now with the new variant, and we have shut our State borders tight again.
I’m not boasting here about our Covid free status. I deeply appreciate our unique position, largely achieved because of our remoteness. Perth, our State capital, is one of the most remote big cities cities on Earth, with the nearest rival (Adelaide) more than 2,000 kilometres away.
Our Covid free community seems like a Christmas miracle – we have had near misses in the last two years and a lot of luck in remaining a Covid free community.
I’m fully aware, that with an incursion that quickly spreads, our blissful environment can end at any time.
So I’m savouring the opportunity to be celebrating Christmas this week in a Covid free environment that only requires me to scan in my presence in public buildings such as supermarkets and theatres.
It is extra special because the reality is that our Covid free existence is nearing its end with our borders scheduled to open to the rest of Australia and to the world in February as we reach 90 per cent double vaccinated. Our Covid free party is almost over.
It was always going to happen – we knew it would eventually. So, for now – while I can – I will celebrate and enjoy our community Covid free Christmas, New Year and summer in the traditional Aussie way.
Christmas in Australia is at the heart of our main holiday season. In the past – pre Covid – many people headed off to celebrate Christmas with family interstate or overseas. Many Western Australians in recent years before Covid headed overseas to go snow skiing in Japan during the Christmas/New Year period. Tokyo is just a ten hour direct flight. This is not possible now – so already the highways are chockers with traffic heading to popular Western Australian beachside holiday towns.
Swimming, surfing, fishing, eating, barbecues, get togethers with friends and family – it’s all the order of the day during our Western Australian Festive season.
Many stay at home for Christmas Day, and then head off on holiday on Boxing Day.
Christmas in Western Australia this week is going to be a hot one! The weather bureau has forecast 42 celsius on Christmas Day for the State capital Perth – that’s nearly 108 F – the hottest Christmas day in Perth for more than 50 years!
It will be a slightly cooler 35 c where I live in the south of the State. Luckily, I’m on the coast, so hopefully there will be cool summer breezes.
This will mean I will be up very early to get some exercise in with a walk to the beach in the cool morning air before the day warms up. Lots of other people will be doing the same – early morning walking, swimming, and walking the dog! And if the wind is right, my hubby will be out of the house before dawn to fish off the beach or coastal rocks.
We can get chilly Aussie Christmas days, but generally Christmas – at the peak of our summer – is warm – which is how we like it.
Roasted ham and turkey will be on my Christmas table, along with garlic cream potatoes and fancy salads with Asian and Mediterranean influences. A mix of old and new. Many Australians still follow the Britain tradition when it comes to a Xmas meal – but often the turkey and ham are cooked on the barbecue – accompanied or replaced by a stunning seafood course – crayfish (lobster) is a hot ticket item on the Australian Christmas table. When the weather is hot, ham and turkey are often cooked on Xmas Eve and served cold with salads.
English style Xmas Puddings can be still found on Australian Christmas tables, but we tend to go for more ‘cool’ deserts like pavlovas, trifles, and cheesecakes to finish off our Christmas meal. I make a Christmas ice cream – this year packed with rocky road chocolate, turkish delight, and nuts.
Australia has a very multicultural population, with people from many different cultures. And we have embraced that. Young Australians – even old ones like me – are as familiar with using chopsticks as they are knives and forks. This variety from cuisines around the world is now reflected on many Australian Christmas tables. Today – two days before Christmas – I’m dishing up a Japanese curry, full of garlic and ginger and many other spices. Yesterday, I enjoyed a great dish of Tteokbokki – rice cakes in a sweet chilli sauce – at our local Korean restaurant with family in a festive season meal.
Because of our hot summer weather, Christmas Day usually involves an early swim and an evening swim – down at the beach or in a pool. Surfers, of course, will be out early to catch a Christmas wave. And fishers will be out with their fishing rods in the early morning cool.
As a kid, I didn’t live near a good beach – so it was a cool shower with the garden hose or play time in a plastic children’s pool.
Christmas is a time for families and friends, as it is throughout the world – and in Western Australia we are still able to gather with them – either at our Christmas table or at get togethers in the few weeks leading up to Christmas. Last night I enjoyed a Christmas gathering with all my neighbours in our small street. We came together for drinks and share plates – sausage rolls, dips and fresh summer fruit platters are popular in festive season gatherings!
Breakfast becomes a special meal in the Festive Season – cooked on the bq andusually eaten outdoors with special Christmas treats.
The festive Christmas/New Year season also involves a lot of picnics and barbecues in Western Australia – by the beach if possible. Boxing Day is a great day for picnics using all the Christmas Day food left overs. And platters of summer fruits and other delicious offerings usually add to the table.
This week, because of the extreme heat in Western Australia, barbecues will be restricted to gas or electric. It’s a total fire ban week, because of the high risk of wildfires in our bush. So no wood fired barbecues or pizza ovens. And no lawn mowing with anything other than an electric mower. Well, no self respecting Aussie is going to be mowing their lawn on Christmas day anyway!
Christmas is also a time when a lot of us, loaded down with all the Christmas food and treats, get out for a good walk! We spray for mosquitoes, and often have to put on a fly net – they are both abundant at this time of the year. But we Aussies get out and about in the summer sun and cool of the evenings, despite them!
Christmas 2021 will be one to remember. Christmas 2022 may be very different.
I wish all my readers and followers a very happy Christmas this week. I wish that you all find joy in the festive season, and that we all find Covid solutions in 2022!