Life in Lockdown Blog | Goldfields Library Corporation

Life in Lockdown Blog 

Please scroll through to see some wonderful contributions to our LIfe in Lockdown blog.

If you'd like to contribute, please send us an email.

More about the Life in Lockdown project.

Use the navigation bar below to scroll through the slideshow.

previous pauseresume next

 Woodend Facebook group shares gardening love through seed packs

Macedon Ranges Seed Savers

by Kylie Swain

I started a gardening facebook page in November last year and its really taken off. I then went on the start up Macedon Ranges Seed Savers. Where we got out 150 seed starter packs on the first lockdown :) 

I have managed to keep the page a positive place where we share photos of our gardens and help each other out. Also swapping plants seeds etc. 

We have gone back to traditional swapping food, plants and seeds and it has really taken off. 

We held a virtual garden show, we had 28 entries and over 500 entries.  Which was really positive for us in lockdown. 

Those with a paid membership to the Herald Sun can read an article about Kylie's venture here.

Kylie is also featured in episode 2 of the Meet Me at the Library podcast. Listen here.

A Snowgirl - by Mihaela

Woodend Kindergarten

Children share their COVID19 experiences.

(scroll for more images)

I went for walks by Elodie

Daddy and me going on a bike ride out in country. By Ever

I'm getting on my bike. Mum is going to push me. My bike has training wheels. By Matthew

Me, my mum and my sister. By Annalise

Dad, Candiece, Leo. By Leo

By Archer.

Mummy and me in the garden. By Annie

I dug a big hole. By Henry

A penguin, mummy, me and daddy. By Jax.

A red river to make things really colourful. By Charlotte

Me and dad. By Jackson

I played with the toy car. I played with it because I was a good boy.

Me, my brother and mum. By Zaine.

Me with my dogs and it's snowing. By Sofia.

I don't really like lockdown, but sometimes I really do love it. By Lucca.

Having to leave my Melbourne Sharehouse made me connect with my parents in a much more adult relationship

postcard Noah from Woodend

postcard - Nicola Glover

My 4 grancdhildren living in 4 different countries zooming each other every week.

Emma Johnson postcard

Lockdown was an opportunity to spend more time with our family - without rushing to get to places!

postcard back

Shae postcard

Shae postcard back

Playing transformers in lockdown

Penny postcard




Elmore Kindergarten

Children share their lockdown experiences.

(scroll for more images)



















we couldn't go to playgrounds. I was sad because we couldn't go to playgrounds.

Spring Gully Kindergarten

Children share their lockdown experiences.

(scroll for more images)

This is me and Ryan

We don't have to wear masks at the bush where people can't find us

We weren't using masks

Little mouse in the sunshine and rainbow

This is a picture of the world upside down

Playgrounds are now open. We can go to our friends house, only one house. we can have sleepovers at one house now.

I saw rainbows before Coronavirus

I'm on the swing with my brother

We couldn't go on swings

We could go to the shops

We would be able to go to playgrounds and fireworks

Swings at the playground

Before Coronavirus we got to go to the beach. You coul dvisit people's houses. You could have lunch with people there and you could have a sleepover.

Horse with a mask on. And a germ


fabric postcard with birds and flowers

Playing with scraps - Viv's Covid postcards

by Vivien Newton

These postcards are created from my small tub of scraps and strips created in teh late 1980s.

Above - Brenda's Spring Surprise Birthday card

(scroll for more)

blue fabric formed into square frames  Blue and green fabric formed into a triangle

Greek Island dreams - a 'wish I was' holiday postcard   

Essence of Mountain trees - for my sister who lives in Wandiligong, near Bright.

Blue fabric formed into books

Wedding Anniversary card for my friends who live blue and books.

Fabric formed into a book shelf

Judy's Birthday bookshelf

sunflower postcard made from French Provincial fabric

flowers on a red background

Two Birthday cards from French Provincial fabric. The sunflower for my niece and the lavender and olives for the friend who bought the fabric in France, gave it to me for my birthday and had the matching table cloth on her kitchen table when I delivered the birthday present.

back of postcard including handmade stamp of bird

All the cards get a handmade stamp and handwritten message.


by Beryl Marshall, November 2020


Stuck at home for weeks, nowhere to go

I began to feel sad, tears started to flow

Was it the hassles with my Bendigo Family?

Who lately had been speaking to me badly

But NO, it is my far away sister, her family and love

That on my past regular visits they gave me so much of

I miss their dogs greeting me at their door

Oh so excited, and happy to see me once more

Their Facebook post of the two cats strolling down the driveway

No wonder I feel so sad, when I have to stay away

Tears still falling, I thought "watch a movie on TV"

But no, there was the Premier, more bad news to see

Then I remembered, the COVID "older helpline"

I'll call them, they will help me feel fine

It was 6.02pm, their message said "hours 9am-6pm"

Too late by 2 minutes, I'd just missed them

Ah, the irony of it all, I had to laugh anyway

That did the trick, the blues didn't stay.


by G Gillespie, April 2020


1. Covid-19 has come to town.

It’s given us quite a scare!

Of our public health, safety and daily lives,

We must be vigilant and aware. 


2. Washing our hand often during the day,

Personal isolation – is now the new normal.

The many thigs we did before,

Are now limited, restricted and formal. 


3. Wear gloves and a mask to the shops,

For only the things you need.

Take a list, be quick in and back home.

A very big change indeed. 


4. School is out, but no holidays.

Home schooling has become the trend.

Communicate online, and “be patient”.

We must see this through til the end.


5. Our grandparents too, must stay spate

A wave through the window will do.

A call on the phone, or Zoom or Skype,

Will have to keep us smiling through. 


6. The ANZAC Day parade has been cancelled.

It may give some pause for regret.

But from our driveways at dawn, we’ll remember,

And alone, or in pairs repeat, “Let We Forget”!


7. Our athletes, outdoors ventures and sporting codes

Have really taken a wack!

But team spirit, striving and adventure will never die!

Do worry – we’ll be back!


8. We’re glad we now have broad band,

For many are working from home.

Desperately keeping the wheels turning,

And trying to pay the rent, mortgage and loan.


9. Our economy is seeming to suffer

In this unprecedented time.

But many new plans are in place now, and

With consideration and compassion, we’ll be fine. 


10. Every-one with a job is “essential”.

Many people still go out to work each day.

The drivers, the builders, the farmers, police,

The posties, and the workers in the loading bay.


11. And then there are those in Health Care,

“THE HEROES” we all say.

They are our family members and loved ones – 

But we have to stay away.


12. For this enemy is a virus,

Stealthy and unseen.

We have to keep the medical staff well and safe,

Protected by Full Hygiene.


13. In other countries around the world,

The figures are very bleak.

Each person is a treasured soul – 

But thousands are passing each week. 


14. The families are sad; there are no funerals

The way we used to know.

Send our hugs, blow kisses from a distance.

In small groups, saying prayers as they go. 


15. The size of the funeral isn’t the measure,

Of all your life and your worth.

The love and joy you’ve given to others,

Will be remembered from your very birth.


16. Queen Elizabeth II is 94 now,

She remembers World War II and the pain,

So a special message she sent us,

Keep calm, carry on, and we’ll meet again. 


17. At Easter the streets were silent,

The churches were empty too.

A few Bishops broadcast the good news,

But in our lounge room on TV we had to view.


18. The Cathedral in Milan was majestic.

A solitary figure stood on the stair.

The angelic voice of Andrea Bocelli rose to heaven,

With ‘Amazing Grace’ for hope, and our prayer. 



19. The World is a different place now.

It can never be the same.

We are writing new chapters to lead us,

New measures and guidelines to frame. 


20. For we have good hope for our future.

We’ll steadily work our way through.

Doing the things that are required.

So keep love, faith and hope and be true. 


An ekphrastic poem inspired by Mari B-Li Donni’s installation ‘Isolation-the fine line' (2020) (next slide)

By Michael Leach







                                                                   over      there










   on an i



                 O    so












                            mind                                     elsewhere    




                    red                     flo  -  wers







by    a stone cold












at           rest


          a match


















                                 2             talk             2  





                                            still some-

1 who


                  some      -      times


          calls          U











                                                           OK           ?

Isolation- the fine line

Isolation- the fine line

by Mari B-Li Donni

Isolation-the fine line installation was created as part of the 2020/21 Mental Health and Well being series. This installation depicts elements of the self as being disjointed and separated through isolation in particular during the current Covid19 lockdown. The accompanying poem was written for my exhibition ‘Remnants of a Winter’s Past’ 2018 but revamped for this installation.


Isolation-the fine line 

Thoughts, thoughts and thoughts again

Many thoughts go through the brain 

When in hell and when in pain 

Glimpses of light and then of rain 

R U OK?? 

You're not to blame 

Alas, time to assess the game 

‘Tis the fine line, and think again


2018 (edited 2020)

This work was inspired by missing my grandson, Hunter, during lockdown, coupled with grieving my parents who both died late last year. The poem also brought out the larger repercussions Coronavirus has had on our communities and humanness, especially after the devastating bushfires of last summer. I attempt to reconnect with a collective consciousness of our human family, isolation, difference and growth via the metaphor of a jungle garden. I also pay tribute to how writing (and writers) can capture these valuable experiences. 

I hope you will consider it for publication in the Life in Lockdown project.


For Hunter

by Tru Dowling, 2020
18 months . . .weeks . . .days . . . 
on this earth – already a lifetime 
in him, an undiscovered world 
I will write about – this space, 
his giant steps 
through my jungle garden,
larger than plants draping 
his path, on the nature strip
as he runs towards 
my car, (the only thing between
him and I and the road).
The earth is folding over
me as if a shroud of linen
carefully prepared then shoved
in storage. Underground. The plants 
grow wilder. Spring rain whiffs of
verdant decay, a walk
though my limbs grow 
heavy with stagnancy. I see him
by video now, rolling 
on the floor, climbing over couches, tripping
in his back yard puddles.
Confined to our hearths, last summer’s
infernos drag their ash and smouldering
shadows. They creep up our walls and into 
our guts and hearts and heads.
We are hermits in the jungle 
of their barren lands. Eliot’s insidious 
visits haunt – ‘Because I know I shall not know’ i
‘Under the brown fog of a winter dawn . . .’ ii how long –
Eight months . . .weeks . . .days . . . ‘So many.
I had not thought death had undone so many’. iii
We grow into our thoughts
which are others which are others,
which are a long
way into the jungle 
and the jungle.
Yet I linger in this spring breeze, bristled with half lost 
memories, a new animal.  A horse penned 
in a paddock, a mouse named Grief
scuffling about the undergrowth 
weary of Plague, the rumours of escape. 
We navigate the edges and crevices 
of our confinement, differences stuck 
in the sludge of our sameness. Notes  
like a harmony reverb from my chest, these pages
a jungle of ink, ache, absence,
space squeezed from the shape of these words
just as his are beginning to form – ‘owell’,
the first last word he utters 
in the last visit we shared, when I held his small warm weight
for the first time in months . . .weeks . . .days (on this earth).

Ash Wednesday 1933: T. S. Eliot, p. 73
ii The Wasteland 1922, 1 The Burial of the Dead: T. S. Eliot, p. 42
iii The Wasteland 1922, 1 The Burial of the Dead: T. S. Eliot, p. 43

Belinda's recreation of Picasso's Portrait of Jacqueline

Belinda's recreation of Picasso's Portrait of Jacqueline

My friend Kirsty shared an art challenge from a Californian gallery and said “You could probably do all of these.” I took that as a challenge, but rather than mimic the ones already recreated, I set about making my own set of recreations, using only what I had at home during lockdown.

Medium- dress ups, face paint, photography.

Grounded by Bev Green


by Bev Green

This piece of art is an acrylic, not my usual expression of art as I normally am out and about taking photographs. During Lockdown capturing environment has been hard, we downsized from 11 acres to the suburbs and so even less ability to wander and capture my world. Frustration led to going back to the things I loved as a child, drawing and doodling. I decided to give acrylics a go and created my own ‘environment’ and creating a vision of where I my one day wander to.

I call this piece  ‘GROUNDED’ a representation of earths colors, land I miss wandering, and of course being grounded in lockdown.

If you cannot go to the land, bring the land to you.

Angela Morrissey - Cityscape at Night II

Cityscape at Night II

by Angela Morrissey

This artwork has been painted in an Expressionist style. Expressionism is an artistic and literary movement originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century, which sought to express emotions rather than to represent external reality: characterised by the use of symbolism and of exaggeration and distortion. With this composition I have blurred the imagery in order to create a distorted night scene which is how I see the world at night due to having a rare eye disease called Keratoconus. Having Keratoconus is like seeing the world through a windscreen on a rainy day. Everything is blurred, distorted and grey.

Life in lockdown has been hard on me as I cannot use public transport. I have Type 2 Diabetes and if I get COVID-19 then it could prove to be fatal as I have a history of Pneumonia and if you get COVID-19 you might develop Pneumonia! I cannot afford to get sick. So, no riding buses or catching taxis for me. I have to stay at home.

The cityscape that I have painted represents the empty streets since public transport has been reduced in some areas and there are curfews and people haven’t been able to drive their cars at certain times. I wanted to capture the eerie atmosphere of this “new normal.” Whatever that means!

postcard from Kris

I pledge to continue writing in my diary that I began in lockdown

Ian Dodd - Ebony revealed on stand

Ebony Revealed

by Ian Dodd

This is made from black Serpentine stone and stands about 45cm high on a 25cm circular base. The concept for this work is based on the beauty that lies just below the surface and relates to all things in should never judge a book by it's cover.

(Scroll for more)

Ian Dodd - Fluid Motion

Fluid Motion

by Ian Dodd

This is made from green Soapstone and is approximately 30cm x 22cm x 10cm. This represents the continuous flow of time and tide resulting in waves crashing on the shore.

Miss Rose by Ian Dodd

Miss Rose

by Ian Dodd

This is made from New Guinea Rosewood hence the name 'Miss Rose' and stands at 1.0m x 20cm x 20cm. I've had this block of rosewood for about 10 years or more then suddenly inspiration struck and this is the result. I always wanted to be able to use the full block as one sculpture (original size 1.1m x 25cm x 29cm) and so was prepared to wait for the right design to dawn on me.


About Ian: I am new to Bendigo having settled in Epsom last January (just before Covid) I am now a fully retired ex-sign writer and have been sculpting, painting and drawing part-time for about 15 years. I have been fortunate enough to have sold all that I have produced to date and winning a few sculpture / art prizes along the way. Since moving here I have created a little studio at home where I can while away many hours of pure joy.

Postcard - Michelle

Postcards to the Future

by students from Alice Miller School

Crochet blanket by Ruth Hyland

Carousel Blanket

by Ruth Hyland

Pattern designed and created by Sue Pinner. I fell in love with the design and purchased the yarn years ago, and finally during lockdown l had the time to actually make it!

postcard - Keira

In a quiet corner of the Street poem

by Mary Kerlin

(Scroll for more)

The black singlet

The long dirt road

The morning is cold

Virginia McKenzie clay sculpture girl

Clay Sculptures

by Virginia McKenzie

Medium: Air dry clay

(Scroll for more images)

Virginia McKenzie clay sculpture dog

Virginia McKenzie clay sculpture dog 2

Many firsts mark a special day

by Sharon Greenaway

This day means a lot of firsts for us in our home ever since COVID19 entered our vocabulary.

Number one saw me doing something crazy: I cleared my current art project off the kitchen table.

Not since the beginning of this COVID19 era have I even given much thought to cleaning the spare bathroom. Never mind worrying about moving my tiny pieces of paper, photographs, glue, craft knives, cutting board, scissors, pencils, rulers and card off the table and putting it back into the studio.

It was a necessary first though, as we had to get the table ready for our first dinner guests for months.

I use the studio space during the day for sewing, creating, thinking and my current arts focus - miniature-book-making; but at night I enjoy the company, warmth and television the locale of the dining table offers.

It has only been my husband Bill and I for the last ten weeks eating our evening meals on trays in front of the television. Who needed a clear dinner table?

The second first is also the first (of many, we hope) visit from our week-old grandson. He comes here with his big brother and parents to help celebrate Bill’s birthday. 

The third first is kind of weird as I find myself now married to an aged pensioner! I don’t think I look old enough but there you go!

Stretching this all just a little further we are enjoying a fourth first when the seven family members share the meal together, including our Melbourne-based son. This is the first time we are all together (albeit via technology) since COVID19 began.

I had better go and get the corned beef, carrots and onions on as I have given Bill strict instructions not to enter the kitchen to help on his special day; otherwise he would already have put the meat on.

This is the final first for the day as Bill always wants to help with cooking, many times chasing me out of the kitchen; it is the first in many years of a family meal cooked entirely by me. 

I pledge to focus on the little things

I pledge to go out on more drawing field trips with my son...

Robber Bear

Robber Bear - The Great Toilet Paper Heist

Bendigo Bear Hunt, March 2020

Are the eyes enough?

Are the eyes enough?

By Shae H

I pledge to focus on the positive

I pledge to finish my book

Trace Balla Surrender your weight to a strong and steady tree

Masked Shrek at Bendigo Library

Masked Shrek at Bendigo Library

My favourite memories of remote learning

Remote Learning

by Linda McNeil

(scroll for more images)

Linda McNeil little boy gardening     LInda McNeil little boy playing music

Linda McNeil home experiments

Linda McNeil kids games

Linda McNeil dog eating out of potty

LInda McNeil dinosaur drawing

Linda McNeil kids writing

Linda McNeil boys with horse

Linda McNeil Harcourt Apple Cider

Linda McNeil sunset

Leeola wearing patchwork plague doctor mask.

Patchwork Plague Doctor Mask

by Leeola Muller

I’m one of the very fortunate people who not only is still working, but the library I work in is still open, the only one in the state as far as we know. 

Our meetings are conducted via video link of course and most of our clients are remotely learning. We do still have students coming in to use the WiFi and computers and ask for help with their studies. 

At our last ‘town hall’ staff meeting we were asked to send photos of the masks we had made. Being a little bit odd I made something slightly different - a patchwork plague doctor mask.  Patchwork and quilting was a hobby I had when my children were small. It has been a lot of fun reprising an old hobby and I hope to continue and get some UFOs finished off. 

I do hope our libraries can reopen soon. The public is certainly missing them and the staff are missing everyone. 

I pledge to spend more time fixing up our garde. Turns out I quite like it

Trace Balla - Remember to look up...

Chapel in the fog

Iso walk - Chapel in the fog

by Shae H

Susan McMinn - The Italian Doctor

The Italian Doctor

by Susan McMinn

I have created some new work inspired by the imagery found online inciting narrative around the human response to the current pandemic. Much of this imagery and associated narrative remind me of the stories written by the Soldiers surrounding their struggles during WW1, that I studied during my PhD. This particular image, The Italian Doctor, comes from an article where Italian doctors endure the heartbreaking final moments of dozens of coronavirus patients, as they plead to see their loved ones, before they succumb to the deadly virus.  

Graphite Drawing, digital painting.

(scroll for more images)
Suisan McMinn - Public Transport

Susan McMinn - The Italian Doctor II

Susan McMinn - Homeless 

Susan McMinn - The Mask

painting of ocean and mountains

Strange times indeed

By Colin Robinson

(scroll for more images)

Strange times indeed poem. As I sit here reading another feed. The lure of the outdoors forever there. As out the window I often share. Trying to tap into what I am grateful for. As my waistline expands more and more. Out I go for an essential task. Trying to negotiate that bloody mask. Always thinking of the greater good. And planning things I knew I could. Family and friends never fade away. Which lifts me up throughout the sky. Long walks are needed in the fresh air. As I meet new neighbours here and there. Resilience is forever seen. As we think of what might have been. We will rise above this invisible beast. To one day enjoy the family feast. AS we launch into the delights of spring. All we have to do is 'the right thing'.

painting of the ocean

I pledge to grow more vegetables

children watching online storytime

Children watching online storytime

(scroll for more images)

children watching online storytime

baby watching online storytime

Issy Kerr - Bear Hunt porch

Bear Hunt

by Issy Kerr

When the first lockdown hit, I had no idea how I was going to cope.  This year I finally had 1 child at school, 1 at Kinder, and only 1 left at home – a freedom that had been a long time coming.  It was short lived though, as we didn’t even make it through Term 1 before everyone was back at home, full time, no breaks, no outlets.

I saw the idea for the Bear Hunt through a Facebook friend in Melbourne, and I realised how simple yet fantastic it was.  My kids would happily stay inside all day, they generally need a good reason to leave the house, so this was the perfect way to get them out and moving, but to make it fun for them.  As soon as I started the Facebook page, it went crazy – so many people were in the exact same boat as our family – struggling to know how to fill the hours and keep their kids entertained.

Not long after starting the Facebook group, the list grew to over 100 people.  The more people that knew about it, the larger it grew, and soon whole suburbs were filled with Teddies.  Teddies were in windows, on street signs, and one lady even set up a different scene every day for her teddy – it was an amazing community response.

(scroll for more images)

Bear Hunt street sign

Bear Hunt backyard under umbrella

TI pledge to keep using wee-wipes

I pledge to fully appreciate the chatter, banter and laughter I share with my colleagues! My computer just doesn't cut it...

I pledge to spend more time with my grandparents

I pledge to express gratitude for acts of generosity

The home

by Sven Svendelson

There was never an option.
To live was to be on place
Get most of what I needed
Then a choice to leave
A searching for self, for the individual
A lonesome undertaking
Wallowing in the shadow
A loved one with their back to you
Subtle pain ensued
A whisper on the wind
A delicate touch
Longing for what has been lost
We are all sick now…or later
The Great Separators
We are here, the land is not
She’s been sick for a long time,
Patiently waiting for reason
Forgiving our short-sightedness
Gently giving warnings
The rain falls more quietly
The sun burns with anger
The ground cracks in defiance
The river blooms green
This is the beginning
Let’s take it back,
That which used to mean something
The home

I pledge to keep finding joy in the small things

Chris Donnelly

Written by Marion Yates

“At first, to be honest I probably didn’t even want to do it because I was terrified of the environment, having so little experience even just with old age, let alone dementia. But I love it now and I will continue to do it, as long as I have the time.”

“I’m fine in a room full of drunken dickheads. But a bunch of older people requiring a very different kind of attention is just something I’d had no experience with.”

“I get a lot out of it. It took me a while because I was so nervous every time I was in there. I don’t know them, and they don’t know me. It is a weird interaction. But it’s a good thing to be exposed to. Old age; it’s coming for us all.”

Chris started volunteering with Castlemaine Health supporting their library service to residents before the current public health crisis. Now he has found himself working on the coal face during the pandemic. The people he helps, and cares for, are among the highest risk group in our community.

Recently, he’s been asked to fulfill a role completely unimagined before the times of Carona.

“As of today, residents in the aged care unit are allowed to have guests again. They need someone on the door taking people’s temperatures, checking that they’ve had a flu shot, and running through a standard bunch of questions, like: “Are you sick? No? Good.”

Chris has a wry, self deprecating humour that comes through when he speaks about the contribution he makes to community life. But despite this the meaning he finds in quietly helping people is apparent.

“It’s a nice thing to be involved in, particularly at the moment where you’re otherwise doing nothing. To go and facilitate people being able to see their elderly parents.”

“It’s the first time in 7 or 8 weeks a lot of them have seen their kids. Without the attachment with the outside world it’s an incredibly dark world in many ways. But the staff are incredible. People who work in that world, I will eternally be impressed by.”

I can’t help but think of my sister and her husband who both work in a local nursing home kitchen. It strikes me that Covid 19 has brought the societal value of roles like the ones Chris and my sister fulfill, into sharp focus. A profound part of their seemingly mundane work is the human connection they’re offering to the residents living in these institutional spaces. And never more so than during an extended public health lock down.

Chris is a local Jack of Many Trades, among those most recently in his work repertoire are: Removalist, Band and Bar tender, TV show Runner, Pub Home Delivery Driver, and Librarian!

Chris works as a casual at Castlemaine Library where he got his start volunteering with the Home Library Program, which led him to volunteering at the hospital facilitating the use of the Castlemaine Library collection for their aged care residents.

“Annie, who spearheads the library service at the hospital, told Jess she could use a hand with the selection and delivery of Goldfields Library resources. I became that hand.”

But despite his diverse capacities, Chris is one of the many casual workers locally, whose lives and incomes have been upended by the pandemic.

“On the whole I’ve been pretty happy to just to hang out at home until recently. Everything is pretty precarious financially and housing wise. Most of our friends are in the same boat. I don’t know you just get on with it don’t you? You don’t have much choice.”

Chris talks about how difficult it has been to get a foot in the door of permanent employment locally, and about the unexpected support he’s received from Goldfields Libraries who have continued to pay their casual employees throughout the public health shut downs which resulted in so many suddenly losing their jobs overnight.

“I was staggered. It was amazing to me that they were doing that for casuals. The timing was very important because there was no Job Keeper payment yet. We relied on that income for the first month.”

“It's nice to have a CEO regularly telling casuals that their jobs still exist. It took me a long time to get an in, and I’ve very much valued being told that that door is still open."

Chris talks about one of the Castlemaine Health aged care residents he visits regularly.

“I’d been told he was a bit difficult. “Sorry he’s very up and down. He likes the Monarchy, and he likes Navy vessels, and that’s it. ” And then I started talking to him and realised “You’re not what I’ve been told at all.””

“I’ve really enjoyed being able to take what I was told about this person, and then through chatting to him and looking at what he had around in his room, realising this is someone who is far more interesting than just liking the Monarchy and boats.”

“I started bringing him weird stuff and just seeing how he’d go with it. We started watching Warhol stuff from the 60’s. Like, really cool stuff. Or even just books on Street Art, which is very, very different to Renaissance painting. And seeing how it goes and just sort of relating as humans.”

I proceed to embarrass Chris by sharing my observation about his capacity for genuine sensitivity and patience in this role he’s started out with so much trepidation about. After being given a couple of dot points about who a person is, he’s gone in there with a curiosity and gentleness, and just listened and connected with him.

“He’s a really sweet, curious old fella. And we’ve formed quite a good relationship.”

ISO, 2020

By Marianne Muecke

The kitchen cupboards are gleaming,
the floors are shining too,
the carpets have been vaccumed.
In ISO there's “time just to do”!

The windows are clear and sparkling,
the shower's been steam-cleaned, like new,
The linen cupboard's sorted.

The garden's getting a weeding,
some transplanting and feeding too,
some mowing and whipper snippering.
In ISO it helps us RENEW.

Instead of coffee and cafes,
instead of theatre and concerts too,
instead of cinemas and holidays.
In ISO we WISH we could do.

Time for reading and reflecting,
time for texting, maybe writing too,
time for resting, even sleeping.
In ISO that's what one CAN do!

Social distancing from the grandkids,
Social distancing from from dear friends too,
Social distancing from external activities.
In ISO it's what ALL MUST to do.

Using What's App, Messenger, Skype,
lets us chat and see each other too,
Zoom classes for fitness and well-being.

Employment has taken a nose-dive,
Super and bank balances too,

Our systems are having a shake-up,
Many're “working from home”; that's new,
Zooming to work via one's computer;
it's the “new normal” thing to do. 

Our Leaders must be given due credit,
They're trying a stimulus, true.
In ISO we've “flattened the curve.”
For ALL Aussies due credit is due.

Black cockatoos in bushes

Black Cockatoos

By John Kelly

Am enjoying poetic company.

The Sun is with me, trustingly.

Black Cockatoos snap twigs, at ease 

The pace is slack, careful, and bleak.

And so I move, a Covid warrior, meek;

To thank the Lord for the peace I seek.

I pledge to sill make mum and dad take me for daily walks

Trace Balla

Trace Balla

Written by Marion Yates

“The Library is in my book!” 

Trace holds up an illustration from her most recently published book “Landing with wings”, and I immediately recognise our ionic circulation desk, and Castlemaine Library manager, Jess Saunders' luscious red hair!

“Libraries have always been somewhere where I have felt very safe. It’s a nurturing place for me and a place for exploring. And these days it’s a place where I get to share, through my work. It's giving back, which is lovely. Just this week I made some little films for kids activities for Goldfields Libraries.”

Trace, like many working in the creative industries has been hugely impacted by the current public health measures. She lost about 20 beautifully planned book launch events at schools, libraries and festivals within 3 days, representing a large portion of her year’s income.

“Because I had all the books for the launches, a lot of locals came and bought them at a little table at my back gate. But I had to send a lot of copies back. I’ll get lending rights if people go to the library and borrow my books. But they can’t do that now. It would be so great if people can buy my books online.”

Nature connection is a common theme throughout Trace’s books, and is central to her self care practices. We talked about how lucky we are to be living close to the bush, particularly at the moment, and how difficult it must be for people living in confined spaces who are isolated at the moment, and don’t have access to human touch or nature.

Trace has made what she calls a community heart space in her neighbourhood; a shared space where people can go for some impromptu nature therapy and a sense of togetherness, even though they are physically separated.

“The trees are in a sort of circle. Early on we had a dance and a sing with less than ten of us, but we can’t do that anymore. So, I’ve put string between the trees, and people are going there on their own and hanging things, feathers, god’s eyes, and just growing it. When I’m down there I sing something, and I know other people are singing something. I’m doing my gratitudes and my prayers down there.”

“I'd encourage people to do that in their neighbourhood, and when you go there, you’ll feel you’re not alone.”

“Hugging those trees is absolutely crucial for me. Laying with my belly on the earth.”

Listening to Trace speak, I’m inspired to do just that. The ceremonial practices of our First Nations people also come to mind; how central such spaces for community and spiritual connection have been and still are within their culture.

Trace’s positivity is profound and generous. She is just coming to the end of 14 days in isolation herself, her adult son having returned from a high risk environment. The two of them have been living at opposite ends of the house.

“I haven’t touched anyone in over three weeks.” She says smiling and stroking her cheeks and hugging herself warmly.

“People say to me when they read my books “I really felt like I went to that place.” I feel that is a bit of a calling for me at the moment; just to help the people struggling with being stuck inside. That’s the greatest thing I can do for the suffering at the moment.”

“I’m really trying to be aware of the language I’m using around this. I’m not saying social distancing or social isolation. I’m saying spacious connection. It's subtle. But it does make a difference how you frame something. We’re being spacious to help keep each other safe.”

“Solitude is a good thing. Loneliness is a hard thing.”

“In the morning I look in the mirror and I say “we’re gonna get through this.”

Sansom's Corner Fish & Chips

Good Friday in Macedon Ranges

by Rebecca Rowlands

On Good Friday (10th of April 2020), I went out for a walk in Gisborne… I took the photo below whilst I walked down Hamilton Street around 11am. It’s possibly the first time I’ve ever seen Hamilton street without a single car or person on it. I also took photos of the 3 Fish & Chip shops in Gisborne, as I knew that they’d be gearing up for a VERY busy night that night, as everyone would be staying at home and not away on Easter holidays!!

Apparently, later at around 6pm, Hamilton St was full of cars with people waiting for their fish and chips! Some had waited around 1 hour & 45 minutes for their orders. 

The next day, on the Gisborne Community. Group (Victoria, Australia) Facebook page, I posted the 3 photos of the fish & chips shops and thanked them publicly for feeding the whole community. It was well received :)

View more of Rebecca’s work here.

(Scroll for more images)

Gisborne Fish & Chips

Doonies Diner

Hamilton St Gisborne Good Friday 2020

I pledge to nurture the good things in my life

Alex Kelly

Alex Kelly

Written by Marion Yates

“Everyone is experiencing this differently. Families with young children, people separated from family, people who are living alone. Just the act of listening to each other and seeing each other in our experience stops people from feeling alone.” 

Alex is talking about the weekly Zoom check in’s happening in her neighbourhood to help overcome the isolating impacts of the public health social distancing measures.

She and I are also meeting via Zoom. Her baby, Quinn, is rolling around on her lap and the floor, popping in and out of view, constantly moving. He squeals and does some happy babbling about his bigger brother’s bookshelf he’s found nearby. I see him pull himself up to a wobbly stand and beam at me, the strange lady on the screen, then he’s gone again. Life in the times of Corona.

Alex has been central to setting up a local neighbourhood group in Castlemaine, the West End Resilience Network, which aims to facilitate connection and support between neighbours through digital mediums as well as in real world spaces.

The West End group uses WhatsApp chat, and has set up an email account and a shared phone which is answered via a roster system, providing an opportunity for those not on the internet to connect with their neighbours.

“I have done a lot of international work and I use Zoom a lot. I could talk to anyone anywhere right now, but I’m finding a lot of comfort in talking to people who are in proximity, even though I can’t see them [in person].”

The first meeting of the West End group was organised towards the end of the bushfire emergency of last summer. After a letterbox drop of 480 houses, around 60 people from surrounding streets gathered at the West End Hall.

“It was a bit of a shot in the dark, there were 4 or 5 of us that had talked about it and then did the flyering for the first meeting. It was bit like hosting a party where you’re not sure if anyone’s going to turn up. And then they did!”

“We did this really cute activity where we made a human map, where we stood up and walked around the room and located ourselves based on our street, and street number, so we could meet our nearest neighbours.”

“We don’t often have a reason to meet people on our street. Unless someone throws a Christmas party or there’s a fire and everyone comes out in their dressing gowns. There can be shyness. Often once we’ve had a catalyst to meet then you’ll sustain the relationships.”

Not long after the first meeting, there was a seed propagating workshop and a visit to a group member’s garden.

“We have a whole lot of seedlings that are almost ready to go now. So with this seedlings shortage now we were ahead on that!”

Alex wanted to get involved or set up a local group when she moved to Castlemaine with her young family, to meet her neighbours and make new connections. But she could not have foreseen what was going to happen shortly after the group was established, and how immediately valuable the network would become on a local level during the Covid 19 pandemic.

The group is grounded in various resilience frameworks which look at the ways small local networks can be prepared and work towards being self sustaining in times of crisis, particularly in terms of local food systems. Alex talks about how the recent catastrophic bushfires heightened local people’s interest in these kinds of supportive networks in their own community.

But as much as the West End group is about disaster preparedness, it is evident that a very personal day to day care is occurring, which may be common enough between neighbours, but which is being nurtured and encouraged through the structure of the group.

“One of the couples who are really involved in the group now, they’ve been on the street for 30 years and they didn’t know their neighbours! And they’re loving it!”

“There are often people who know about gardening, and cooking, and looking after the land, and looking after country. Indigenous leadership is everywhere on this continent. The things that we’re talking about are innately human. Human beings are innately cooperative and generous and want to give and care. We just live in a society that tells us otherwise.”

Alex has made connections with various other neighbourhood networks across our region which have either evolved or strengthened during the current public health crisis. These local groups are supporting each other as well as the people in their own neighbourhoods.

“The hope is that these networks sustain us both in times of crisis and abundance. Our group started before Covid 19 and we’ll continue after Covid 19.”

”We’re looking after each, swapping goods that some people who are more vulnerable might need right now. But also we’re building relationships and trust that will serve us all over time. We’re building a stronger community.”

“A neighbour has set up a foodbank on her veranda. I love going down there with my older son. Yesterday we went down there and dropped off some tomatoes and basil, and picked up some seeds, and bumped into some other families while we were down there.”

“Another lovely thing that happened this week was a ceramicist put out clay packs for the children. My son was so excited that something was left out for him. Which felt good for her as well as the families benefiting.”

“There’s probably untold layers of things going on [through the network] that are really important. I think when we can congregate again there will be a lot of emotion and care and trust between each other.”

Letter to my pre-Covid self

By Barbara P

Dear self,

You took a lot of things for granted before we all got this wake-up warning of an illness which isn't choosy about who or where it takes hold.
When you last saw your sons in Melbourne for a start. Living in country Victoria has made it safer from the Co-Vid virus but it also isolated us from the visits on weekends or during holidays when we could all catch up.

Now we use computers which is better than nothing but Internet isn't always reliable here and often faces are blurry or indistinct.

You miss your friends especially Marion who you share lots of love and laughter with.  You miss going out for dinner and just meeting up for a coffee.

You miss sleeping in Box Hill and nights together in front of T.V chatting and looking at stupid stuff on Facebook. Especially you miss hugs and face to face company.

So you will try to cultivate the garden and you enjoy that.  There's no excuse not to have time to be creative!
Make sure you have the time to keep up with friends on the phone and tell people they are important in your life.
It could end quickly as we have seen all around the world.

Remember your silly drawings.  They usually make you laugh.

Look at nature, it is doing it's best now with less pollution from traffic on roads and the sky.
People are seeing sights they had forgotten such as the tops of mountains.

Most importantly remember to appreciate your social times because during Co-Vid 19 they won't happen as much.  You will have to cue 1.5 meters apart to enter shops and limited numbers will be allowed inside.  Restaurants will only serve take-away and Pubs will close.

You might be drinking too much and getting fat so remember about indulging and bulging!

Look after your pets and your mental health!

Good Luck during this pandemic Barbara.

Zoom Kinder

Zoom Kinder

by Jess Harrison

"My son really enjoyed kinder via Zoom. Not quite as good at the IRL (in real life) version but still lots of songs, stories and sharing time."

I pledge to continue to nurture my garden to encourage antive birds any neighbours bees

Yahtzee online

Online Yahtzee tournament

by Nicki Renfrey

"During Lockdown we set up a round robin Yahtzee tournament with our friends – we used House Party to play (before we really knew what Zoom was) and were able to maintain a social connection through that."

(Scroll down for more images)


Winners are grinners

Melissa Laragy-Walker

Melissa Laragy-Walker

Written by Marion Yates

“Even though I’m 50, I feel like a 16 year old. I don’t want to die. I want to live until I’m 100. When I got the flu I thought I was going to die. It was the scariest experience of my life.”

Melissa is one of the high risk people living with complex health issues in our community. As a person with disabilities she faces huge added challenges during this public health crisis. She has had a virus with symptoms similar to those of Covid-19 throughout the entire shut down period.

“I have this thing and I just couldn’t kick it. My 17 year old daughter went into the GP for an unrelated reason, and she came out and said “Mum you have to go to a Carona clinic tonight.” I thought “Oh. OK. they’ve got my daughter to tell me.””

“We went to the drive through testing station at the Lyttleton St clinic. And that was fine. But really late that night I got scared. Because I knew that it was the second week where it all goes wrong. I don’t generate fevers because my immune system is so surpressed. My immune system doesn’t fight. So, I could be ravaged by an illness and not know. And I thought if I’ve got this, I’m in trouble.”

Melissa is a staunch character. She speaks frankly about the challenges of living with relentless pain and complex debilitating symptoms, as well as the side effects of medications which themselves significantly impact functioning. She would not describe herself as such, but she is clearly a strong and vocal advocate for people living with disability in our community.

Simple tasks like grocery shopping have always been extremely arduous for Melissa, but now the busy local supermarket has become a frightening environment for her to navigate.

“I just think about the IGA as a hot spot for the virus. I was petrified to go in there. I was going down there at 8 o’clock at night to avoid the crowds.”

“Shopping is one of the hardest things I do. Because it just takes so much energy. I’m slower. They had special provision for the elderly only, with special opening hours.”

Home delivery of groceries doesn’t suit Melissa as she likes to be as self-sufficient as possible. But she has found the public health safety procedures put in place by supermarkets during the pandemic haven’t worked well for people with disabilities.

Melissa refers to local online discussions early in the pandemic about the issue of empty supermarket shelves during the stock piling frenzy.

“Everyone comes up with these ideas that they think will be great. And often they won’t help. Everything everyone was talking about made me in more danger. All the conversations were about what would suit well people. Limiting to one of each item per person means people end up going to the supermarket every day. It was more busy not less. And that was the time I thought I could be screwed.”

“All I could think was there are people who are bed ridden and house bound who can’t get food. They could be dying in their beds.”

Melissa has not been eligible for extra in home community supports because she has a job which she is on extended sick leave from.

“Finally found out I could get NDIS. I got a new worker who rang me up. She's been amazing. She works for one of the Agencies that help you apply for NDIS. It’s crazy. I’m not stupid. And I can’t do it. Because of my disbility I get really overwhelmed. I used to be a really organised person and now I can’t remember what day it is or what I’m supposed to do.”

Melissa and I are both big local social media forum participants. I first met Melissa online after appreciating her wry humour and thoughtful contributions to discussion about various local issues. As a person with very limited mobility, Melissa finds the local online groups a useful way to keep in touch with what’s going on in the community, and to have immediate social contact without having to go out.

“I never get upset. I’m usually giggling when I’m posting. But some of the online chatter and the media around the pandemic has pissed me off.”

“The whole conversation throughout this pandemic is that it only effects the old and the immune suppressed. So, they’re the ones that are going to die. And then there are people demanding to know “Why are we in lockdown?”. I heard that at least 50 times a day. It’s a constant message.”

“It’s because they live in a country where they’re not going to be effected by it. They're not at risk. It is a medical privilege.”

“I felt like through this pandemic that I am disposable. And I feel that people are speaking for me. They’re really caring lovely people who are doing the speaking, but they’ve got not clues about the reality of living with a disability.”

“I started getting attacked and ridiculed online. Because I would not stop. I’m not going to perpetuate harmful attitudes by saying nothing. But when I speak about my experiences people think I’m looking for sympathy.”

We’ve all heard some of the dehumanising messaging about at risk groups through various media channels. Yet there is a risk that while noticing how problematic it might be, we become desensitized to the impact it is having on those same people.

Melissa’s perspective is a wake up call. There have been times that I have been that well meaning voice speaking for people with disabilities, commenting about the lack of support during the pandemic, rather than listening carefully first.

I’ve learned a lot from Melissa. She apologizes for occasionally for “carrying on”. I tell her that I think what she is doing is incredibly brave, and important. Boldly articulating her experience.


Foster Cat

Foster Cat

by Jennifer Mitchell

"These photos of our foster cat taken during lockdown seem to tell a more general story of lockdown life - from the early days spent under the doona or peering out from behind the couch through to the excitement of new and entertaining at home activities, some wistful moments, backyard fun in the sun and the comfort of togetherness."

under the doon  foster cat

foster cat playing  foster cat outside

foster cat playing  foster cat cuddling

foster cat looking out raining window  foster cat laying on chair

The Stickland Family

The Driveway Project

By Sandy Scheltema

The Driveway Project aims to document life during these unprecedented times of social distancing due to the Corona Virus. It is a way to document history in Trentham and surrounds during this time of staying at home, and a way of helping families feel connected with others in the community. 

Participants are asked to come out in their driveway as a family unit with items that represent what they have been doing in lockdown, and the photographer is documenting them outside their residence.

If you live in Trentham or nearby and want to be involved please contact Sandy 

More information on The driveway Project here.

The project has been funded by a Hepburn Shire Council COVID 19 Community Support Grant.

(Scroll for more images)

Lincoln, Anita, Sullivan, Clancy, Alice and Maggie

Brigid and Stuart ScheltemaAlice and Margaret

Sally and Peter Scheltema

Scott, Eva, George & Lily


Karen and Michael

Pam and Ian

Annie, Susan, Hannah, Amelie

Sarah, Brad, Angus


Corona Complexity

By Barbara Petrie

When Frizz got home it was nearly two in the afternoon.  The house smelt of stale beer so she opened the windows and left the back door open. 

The lounge room wasn’t too bad.  Bo had cleared most of the mess before he flaked out.   There were a few chip remnants and some ash near the back entrance.   Stale beer permeated so she opened the kitchen window and sighed.

The back yard was in disarray.  Some of her bushes were broken and the path to the clothesline had butts and spilt red wine patches here and there.  At least they took it outside she thought.

She dragged out the hose and sprayed the path.  She’d get Bo to rake all the butts up and buy her a few new shrubs…and some new pots for them.   

Bo appeared in the back yard. 

This Corona thing is starting to look serious.  They reckon its killed hundreds in China and its spread around with travellers who weren’t quarantined.

Bloody Hell, every year we have a new flu of some kind.  Frizz shrugged.

Yes, Emma was telling me about it.  Some of her friends are saying it’s become a Pandemic and a lot of specialists she knows says it affects respiratory areas causing death.  There aren’t enough respirators to go around and no cures!

I hope it doesn’t spread here in Australia.  Frizz thought about Emma working in a Hospital.  She had an image of her being bombarded with germs and bringing them home to the twins.

It’s a real worry.  One of the cruise ships, the Ruby Princess came back and people had the virus on board.  But they still let them off and now they’ve infected others who’ve spread it further.  Bo’s forehead creased.

Panic buying has started in the shops.

Well, we’ve plenty of dunny rolls.  I bought up knowing we’d need more with the blokes coming over.

Good thinking love.

We’ll be right for a while.

But elsewhere people were listening to media and gossip.  Panic buying had begun making toilet rolls and sanitiser shortages and other products started to vanish too. Tinned foods, fresh.  All kinds of soap and detergents.  Toilet cleaners, tissues. Elderly people couldn’t get the things they needed.

Disarray and fear ran through communities quicker than wind in a storm.

People were advised to keep a safe distance from each other and cases of sickness started to increase.

I can’t believe this.  I needed tissues and toilet paper, a few groceries and long-, life milk.  Emma came in, the back door banging leaving the twins in their stroller in the back yard.

I could only get one packet of two rolls.  Half the other stuff I needed just wasn’t there!

Oh, hi love.  You can take some of ours, I bought a forty eight pack last week before Bo’s party.

Thanks Mum, maybe I’ll take just two.

This panic buying is crazy!

I’ll just get the boys.

Right. I’m putting the kettle on.  Do you need a hand out there?

Thanks Mum.  You can grab Jacob.

Frizz happily put the kettle back.

It’s lucky I’m a nurse, said Emma.  I have a card which allows me to drive about and I can ferry the boys around.  The childcare centre has closed so I’ll be relying on you more Mum, I’m sorry to say. 

You know it’s a pleasure dear.  Anytime.

Well, you have Dad to look after too.

He’s bearable, just.  Frizz smiled and wiped at her fringe.  You can cut my hair for me.  I bet the hairdresser isn’t open now.

The last I heard you can make an appointment for a maximum of a half hour bur I don’t know if that’s still the case.

Ok, mum.  Your on.  

Bo was worried.  He was still snivelling after his bug and sometimes he woke after having a sore throat.  That was probably from snoring he told himself.  But what if he’d caught something from someone else?  

Can we get tested at the hospital?

Dad you don’t need to do that do you?

Well, remember that bug I had not long ago and I’m not entirely well from it you know. 

That was a flu Dad.  You’re just a bit run down.  See your G.P if you think you need to.

I will and I’ll see if I can get tested.

Well I’d better too.  I’d probably have it if you did.

Frizz put channel 24 on and watched with fear as the shots from Los Angeles appeared.  It was in lock down and thousands were infected.

Images of Ambulances with covered stretchers and masked white dressed medics hurrying across the screen.  The death toll across the planet was mounting.  It was mysterious and frightening.

God what a time to have babies thought Emma.  She stroked their soft cheeks and smiled sadly down as they were playing on the floor.

Lucky, I breast feed them but not lucky to be single and still needing financial help from their Dad.

She knew her mum and dad were safe.  They were just being over cautious, as usual.

Just wait a little while dad.  I think they’ll begin testing soon if they suspect an outbreak.  I know we’ve had deaths in Australia but mostly in New South Wales.

And they’ve been linked to travellers and the cruise ships.

Well Eric’s travelled recently.

That was three months ago love.

Well this thing started in China.  In the wet markets.  Eric didn’t go to China.  He went to Bali, to look for love.

He didn’t find it either.  The ugly bastard.

Emma laughed.  Still fighting with him Dad.

Yeah, he was a pain in the arse last Friday.  Drunk and nasty as usual.  Bo sat down and the chair gasped airily.

I’m going for a walk soon to see about getting some movement.   

Just keep a safe distance from others Bo.  That’s what they’re saying.  1.5 metres to be exact.

Alright then, where’s me tape measure?

Ha, ha Dad.  Just be careful.

You can try to get more loo paper then.  You guys used a few.

When are you going?

After lunch.  I’ll make a toasted cheese sanger.  Anyone else want one?

Yes please.  I will. Said Frizz.  

Me too and the boys can have some pureed apple.  I have some right here.

Emma rummaged in the baby bag and produced some home made food in jars.  Then she picked up a boy and sat him in the high chair that she once used as a baby.  

One of Frizz’s better hordes.  It was white, wooden and sturdy with a slide out tray and leather straps.

After Emma fed the babies she scrolled through her phone.  She saw in Mexico they were turning off ventilators for people over 60.

  A Doctor was crying and saying they were losing all their parents and their wise elders. There weren’t enough ventilators to save the young.  It was nightmarish.

She looked at her parents and was frightened to imagine how it could possibly have gone this far.  It was here too.  One of the families in the state had caught it and others in aged care were getting it.

Eighty- four people had died and the numbers were increasing.  It was like science fiction.  Bacteria smaller than ants eyeballs lying in white spaces in the atmosphere taking out unsuspecting humans.  There was no doubt about it.  Nature was awesome and  destructive if left unchecked.

How could it happen and who could we blame?

She wondered if children could ever go back to school.  Would anything ever be the same?

I pledge to keep taking slow walks with my son

Social distancing

Social Distancing

by Sue Murray

(scroll for more images)

thank you letter to the cat

working from home

Bendigo LIbrary closed

Lonely Bendigo Library

by Brenda Skinner

Bendigo Library during closures. May, 2020.

(Scroll for more images)






Ginny Thomas

Ginny Thomas

Written by Marion Yates

Ginny started sewing 6 years ago. She decided if she wanted to learn to sew, she should know the machine, so she taught herself at home via Youtube videos. Then she started rescuing sewing machines from the local tip and repairing them. 

“I fell in love with the machines! I now repair, service and collect sewing machines. I rescued a lot of secondhand machines and then thought I could use these to teach migrant women to sew.”

Ginny now works for the Bendigo Chapter of nonprofit organisation Sisterworks Inc doing just that; supporting women migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, mostly from the local Afghan, Sudanese and Karen communities.

“My parents are Chinese; second World War migrants to Singapore. I was born in Malaysia. I grew up reading in the papers about Vietnamese refugees arriving in Malaysia. I have empathy for people having lost their homes through war.”

“I train migrant women to empower them through work. I would like to give Sisterworks a big plug. We need volunteers to work with and engage migrant women in the region.”

Three years ago, Ginny got involved with the local grassroots sewing group Boomerang Bags Castlemaine and surrounds, who volunteer their time to sew cloth shopping bags for the community to use and return, all for free.

“The whole community embraced it fully. Lots and lots of fabric donation! It was like the French Resistance! We were all running around, dropping things, picking up things. It is still happening!”

During the current public health crisis Ginny has turned her sewing passion towards helping health workers as well as high risk individuals living in the local community. Her home sewing space has turned into a mini production line with a huge heart. Given the nationwide shortage of Personal Protective Equipment, she is teaching the Bendigo Sisterworks women to sew homemade masks and gowns to help reduce the risk people on the front line are facing.

“My boss just rang to ask me about the possibility of training our migrant sisters to pump out 500 masks for health workers!”

The local Boomerang Bags chapter along with other local crafters are also part of a grassroots network responding to calls from health services as well as at risk individuals. There’s a whole network of crafters making homemade masks and gowns to literally help save people’s lives.

These homemade masks are not rated for full protection from Covid 19 in public or health care settings, however they have been shown to provide good barrier protection from large air born droplets, and for people absent mindedly touching their faces!

Ginny and her family are big users of the Castlemaine Library, for study, work, research, and a welcoming safe community space.

“When we first moved here 10 years ago and did not have internet, no air con and limited heating, the library was our second home. My kids were voracious readers when they were younger! The library has become our family meeting place, as we live out of Castlemaine.

“And our first local Boomerang Bags sewing get together was in the library.”

“The Castlemaine community drew me in. It is a very supportive community and I am so, so lucky I am living here with a huge number of people who share my values. It is huge to be part of a community that cares! For a long, long time, I felt that I was a square peg in a round hole. Now I am just enjoying being me.”

I pledge to appreciate the time I have with my grandchildren even more!

by Anonymous

I became electro-sensitive about four years ago after a smart meter, unbeknownst to me, was installed on an outside wall, directly behind where my head was in bed.

A week later I started experiencing symptoms including ringing in my ears, nausea, headaches, dizziness, irritability, brain-fog, flashing lights before my eyes and a debilitating buzzing feeling throughout my body.

A month later I was so ill I could hardly get through a birthday party without experiencing these worsening symptoms as well as others that made life very difficult such as uncontrolled urination.  Two months later and I could not get out of bed to go to work.  Three months later, with my hair falling out in clumps, I was sleeping outside in the back yard in a tent; it was the only place that seemed to give me some sort of respite from whatever was making me sick.

In utter desperation, I bought a small minivan and left Melbourne, my husband, our home, pets, verdant food-garden and my career in academia, and commenced a solitary existence; camping in state and national parks, mainly around the Goldfields area as I have friends and family in that region.  The longer I stayed away from places with wireless radiation, the better I felt.  Gradually my health improved, enabling me to make brief forays back to Melbourne to see my family, shop and do ‘normal’ things.  Retreating to the forest to sleep in my van at nights allowed my body to recover from whatever radiation insults it had received during the day.

Whilst on my peripatetic wanderings, I would communicate with friends and family by typing my sms messages, hitting send, then after taking the phone off flight mode and turning on the wireless function, walking away to let it update.  Local libraries provided me with a lifeline, being my main means of sending/receiving emails. They also provided me with a never-ending supply of books, reading being one of the few activities available to me.  Living as a virtual recluse in the forest, even the inane chit-chat that came with dropping in at libraries was valued.

Being based in a van, especially in Victoria’s cold winters, proved challenging.  I began house-sitting for friends, and friends of friends, to obtain some respite.  Even so, potential jobs had to be thoroughly researched before I could commit to a house-sit.  Factors such as whether the WiFi could be turned off, and the distance from the bedroom to the smart meter, were of crucial importance.

Things were looking good in February 2020.  I had been living in my van on a friend’s property on the outskirts of a small country town, caretaking and looking after the animals, whilst the owner was at work in Melbourne during the week.  I had a solid bank of house-sits lined up for five months, which would take me through central Victoria’s chilly winter.  Little did I know that COVID-19 would soon bring these plans to a grinding halt.

Just after Victoria’s Labour day long weekend in early March, in a matter of days, every one of my house-sits was cancelled.  Nobody was going to be departing for their courses, workshops or holidays.

Quite a few of my house-sit friends were very kind, and offered to have me stay with them, even though they were not going away.  “You can still stay in the spare room” they said, “it would be lovely to have you anyway” I was told.  This was so kind of them, and I nearly cried at their compassion.  But alas, after thinking about it, I realised it would not be workable.

I explained to them what I would do in the past, after being left in charge of the house.  The first step was to go around and switch off all wireless signal-emitting devices; computers, TVs, air conditioning units, cordless phones, the lot.  The next step was to go around and turn off and unplug nearly everything from electrical sockets; lamps, digital clocks, stereo systems, until only essentials such as the fridge and the washing machine were left on.  The final step, for whichever bedroom I was in, was to move the bed into the middle of the room, away from wall sockets.  Sometimes even all these precautions were not enough and I would end up spending nights out in my van.  But at least I had a warm and dry place to inhabit during the day.

Clearly, if I were to insist on these measures, there was no way that my house-sit friends would be able to live a normal life, with me as a houseguest!

However, the situation quickly became even worse.  I was in the nearby library, talking to the librarian, who assured me that she had not had any word of libraries being closed down.  I was going to get some books but decided I would do it the next day.  I left the library at 3pm; by 5pm the doors were shut and a notice was up, stating that the library was closed for the foreseeable future.  My lifeline had vanished, overnight.  Ready access to emails was gone.  The books that I was looking forward to reading were unobtainable.  There was nowhere to retreat to and read when it got unbearably cold and wet during winter.

I began to pack my things to ‘go bush’ again, thinking that I might be able to escape the cold which was about to descend in April by travelling north, to warmer climes.  I was too late.  State borders had already started closing.  National and state parks, even caravan parks, were now off-limits, and people would be up for steep fines if found travelling too far from ‘home’.

The people who owned the land that I had been caretaking earlier in the year kindly offered me the use of a caravan on their property.  This I gladly accepted only to find out, with the first downpour, that it was far from watertight.  Two months later, moss was beginning to grow inside the caravan walls.  I realised that this was also not a healthy place to be, even if only to read a book on a cold day.  Finally, a neighbour offered to rent me her Airbnb granny flat.  Serendipitously, it is a one-room steel-clad unit with a corrugated iron roof.  Wireless signals do not seem to penetrate it.  Even so I have had to move the bed into the middle of the small room and switch off all the power points at night.

Hibernating in the flat has been a godsend, not only from this very wet Victorian winter, but also to steer clear of the COVIDSafe app.  With so many more phones now Bluetooth-activated, the radiation from someone’s device in the supermarket, even from two metres away, can mean that I end up with a splitting headache.  But at least people don’t look at me as if I am crazy when I move away from them, as they assume that I am simply socially distancing!

Government-mandated isolation can be especially lonely for people with electro-sensitivities and lack of access to safe technology.  Friends and family have been organising Zoom and Skype conferences to catch up; they wonder why I don’t attend.

As bad as the shutdown was, the easing of restrictions has also not been good for me.  Although things are re-opening and most people are starting to get back to normal, none of my housesitting has resumed as overseas travel is still out.  And now my landlady is signalling that she will soon wish to put her flat back on the Airbnb market; she can make more money via Airbnb than what I can pay in monthly rent.  In the meantime, national and state parks are opening up – but only for those who have a caravan or camper van with an onsite toilet and shower.  My little van has neither.

So again, I am stuck in a grey area, not able to go anywhere, and perhaps with nowhere to stay, and with radiation increasing by the day….”

Lockdown chicken by Dave Munro

Chook Sonnet

By Dave Munro

The brown hens march in scruffy procession
each afternoon, twice around the farmhouse
and the garden three times in succession,
checking all’s well before to the hen house

they wander, and so retire for the night.
Topics deep and wide they ponder, clucking
admiration at each other’s erudite
commentary as they wander, rucking

the red earth as they go, searching for bugs
and other tasty snacks that catch their eye.
Dinosaur minds from before ancient floods
drive their thoughts; they fear eagles in the sky.

Are we so different? As we all scurry
to and fro, round our lives all a hurry.

Don't be teary, be cheery!

Eaglehawk North Primary School

Students share their COVID19 experiences via Life in Lockdown postcards.

(scroll for more images)

I pledge to be infinitely more patient with myself and my daughters

Ronnie Moule

Ronnie Moule

Written by Marion Yates

I have known Ronnie for 14 years. She is my GP, but she is much more than that! There are many layers to Ronnie’s story, but I wanted to try to uncover some of the human story of this extraordinary and generous community care giver during the Covid 19 pandemic.

We talk about many things, often in my consultations; while she’s taking my blood pressure, or filling in my patient file, we’ll have rapid fire conversations about everything from the profound nature of the feminine and what it is to be a woman within societal structures, to the experience of the fight-flight response in a pandemic.

Ronnie talks about her own responses to the public health crisis as a frontline health care worker with a mix of laser sharp analysis and curiosity.

“My thinking is different in that fight-flight response state. My usual way is more a sitting and being-with state. This was quite a fantastic charged space to be thinking within. That was pretty fascinating!”

“Four of the six positive tests in Mount Alexander Shire, were done at the Mostyn Street Clinic [where Ronnie’s practice is based]. The first case of Covid 19 in Castlemaine, that was my patient.”

”So, that heightened thinking came in very early on for us, when all we could see was what was happening in the world, in places like Italy and New York, and the extraordinary case and mortality statistics.”

“I was in hypomania; that finely focused thinking, and highly energised state, where you’re assessing every situation and logistical problem on the fly, in the context of this risk. It was very linear thinking, which was strange for me because I usually take more of a broader view. It’s an unusual state to be in.”

“It was a question of here we are now managing with six positive cases. And then that thinking of what happens if 20% of the population were tested positive? For us that would mean 1000 positive tests coming through our clinic. And how would we manage that volume? And so, in addition to the processes we had to put in place, there was a whole extra plan to manage the contingencies.”

The Mostyn Street Clinic put a range of processes in place early on, including the closure of the front door and redirection of patients to the back ramp where all patients could have temperature checks and be triaged as to whether they could come into the building. They also set up, and continue to conduct, a drive through test station in their car park.

“We ran reception on the back ramp for 1-2 weeks. The car park was the waiting area. Some consultations were done in the car park, or clinic garden. We have been doing all swabs in patient’s cars – they drive in, we have a telephone consultation, then full PPE, wind down the window, swab, wind up the window and drive out.”

“That first case - I remember that particular conversation - they were in the car looking forward talking and I was standing about two meters behind them just clarifying things before the swab. “I want you to talk that way, and I’m going to stand over here, so the droplets are going that way.” The physicality of it was interesting in the moment. The awareness of where my hands go, where I stand.”

I’m familiar with the heightened fight-flight state Ronnie described - the power of the response to threat, whether perceived or real. It’s something we’ve all experienced in some way or another in our lives. I ask Ronnie if she felt fear at the onset of the pandemic.

“There was a fear that if one goes down we all go down. I think it was 10% -15% of cases overseas were healthcare workers. I didn’t feel that I would be a mortality statistic. But you never quite know the answer to that question though. There was always a bit of fear. But that was placed aside, and not at the front of my thinking.”

“What was fascinating was that the hospital was exceptionally quiet. We were super, super, super busy at the clinic, the busiest I’ve ever seen in General Practice. And then everyone fled. No one went to the hospital. And then elective surgery was canceled. And so, there was this staffed quietness, sort waiting, waiting, and wondering.

“And there was this feeling: I don’t know how big this is going to get.”

“But the storm actually hasn’t come. It will be interesting to see what does come. Certainly, there has been a bit of an increase in Victoria recently. It’s hard to know whether the tracing and quarantine of people effected will prevent a bigger outbreak.”


Ronnie talks with her body: hands, shoulders, chest and face. She is a big thinker, and she articulates her thoughts with great clarity, but it is through her body that she gives fullness to what she is expressing. Her gesticulation is abundant and delightful - even on Zoom!

“I think coming down from that hypomanic state, that always feels a bit vulnerable. But with that comes insight which I really love. I’m quite practiced at sitting in my vulnerability and it’s something that I do like to honour, and I tend not to retreat from that.”

“Something I’ve realized is my dip came during the Telehealth period. I did consults like this [crossed arms, leaning back, terse expression]. And I realized how nourished I am with face to face meetings with patients, and how nourished I am talking like this [gesticulates abundantly!]. And how much I missed that. I think we can feel like we’re in a service industry and forget how much we’re receiving in that process, and I think that was really highlighted for me.”

I relate, working in a service industry as a Librarian! I have missed in person connection with our community during the closures. I also relate to the hypomania and the crash, the huge drive and energy followed by withdrawal. I ask Ronnie what her sense is about people’s mental health during the public health shutdowns, and how she’s looked after herself.

“There’s an enormous need for connection. We're a bit desperate for touch and for connection in the same physical space as each other.”

“And for some there is anxiety about the reopening. We know how to lock down, and sit still, and only go to supermarket once a week. But how do we step out? And what does our community look like? Have we had amazing insights? Or are we going to slot back into how it was before, and will we be satisfied with that or not?”

“Self-care is really important to me. I do remember having a day where I lay on the window seat and I read a book all day. I did go to the secondhand bookstore and buy 4 books in case I got put into quarantine. I was stockpiling books!”

“And dancing is foundational for me, to shift the stress in my body. The local 5 Rhythms group has been continuing online via Zoom. I’ve also be doing some Feldenkrais online; moments of dropping into myself and presence with myself. There’s something really slow and still about Feldenkrais, which has been a good balance to the crazy, crazy.”


Ronnie is a highly skilled and capable doctor, she has a robustness about her, and incredible strength and determination, but what makes her extraordinary in my view is the fullness of the humanity she brings to her model of care.

Much of Ronnie’s General Practice is centred around provision of birthing services in our region. It’s not an over statement to describe her legacy of care of local birthing mothers and babies over two decades as legendary, as well as profoundly nourishing of this community.

“It’s a really extraordinary experience of being a woman [as a female GP obstetrician]; being present with women giving birth, when they’re more [uniquely] woman than anything else in their lives; where there’s no comparison to the structures we live within, and the outward masculine environment. To be stepping into that over, and over, and over again, is extraordinary.”

“In some ways it’s receiving love over, and over again. Being present at this moment of love is extraordinary.”

I see what Ronnie does as bold, love centred care, within a medical system which is largely intentionally devoid of emotion.

Ronnie attended me and my son after his birth 12 years ago, when I became seriously unwell. She came into that sacred post birth space, in our home, where we had all been traumatised and destablised by my illness, with a calmness, love, and strength which helped to center us as a family and held us through some very dark and frightening weeks and months.

“It nourishes me so deeply” Ronnie’s face is filled with emotion. There are tears in her eyes.

“There’s something really profound about caring for people over time, that you’ve had such intimate, respectful, honest being with.”

“How do we do that in healthcare? How do we keep that?”

Shannon Ingleton Superman

The Ingleton Family during lockdown

By Shannon Ingleton

Lots of cooking, craft, planting, neighbourhood walks, science experiments and (mostly!) fun times together!

(scroll for more images)

Bin outing

children painting  bear hunt

eggshell painting

Fire pit

George and Matilda

jumping in puddles  online connecting

Let We Forget


By Margaret Mitchell

Since Covid 19 changed life for me
I am no longer fancy free
I must choose with care what I can do
Where I may go, I must watch too
I put myself in holiday mode,
Knit and read and walk the road.
Can’t Zoom, Skype and things like that
So on the phone I chat and chat
I really miss my hugs so dear
And guess I might for  many a year
For those days gone by we will surely yearn
The way they were may not return
But hopefully by learning lessons
The “new normal” will receive our blessings
Coronavirus BEGONE!

Lisa Gormley journal entry

Journal entry

by Lisa Gormley

"I've been walking almost everyday, been starting to record things in a nature journal (something I'd like to discuss with the library when the time is right). I'm going to share here a photo from my journal, as my early morning walks are in darkness and I've been marveling at the stars and planets, moon, sounds, light, temperature. I've taken notice more since I've been working from home because I have gained back some of my day, and I spend it in nature."