TWO South Gippslanders who have been providing one of the reference points for locals during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelly Van Den Berg and her sister Tracey Lewis, are into day 11 of their 14-day quarantine after ‘escaping’ from Morocco last month.
And just as the restrictions are set to ease in the state on Monday, they’ll be walking free from their confinement in the Pan Pacific Hotel at Southbank in Melbourne.
“I’m just looking forward to going for a walk or a ride down our road back at home,” said Kelly of remote Budgeree near Mirboo North this week.
“I’m really looking forward to enjoying a Gippsland winter.”
It’s not much to ask but it’s a world away from a north African summer where the pair had been enduring a strict lockdown with little prospect of a way home and fears about an inadequate health system just two weeks ago.
“We can leave anytime on Monday. There’s 400 people here under quarantine so they don’t want everyone getting picked up here. We get a taxi to a destination of our choice and get picked up there.
“Tracey is just looking forward to seeing the family. She’ll be able to resume her job (in childcare) when she gets home, but you know, just seeing the kids and supporting them.”
She’ll find that not a lot has changed at home in Korumburra, which should nonetheless be reassuring.
“The food has been pretty good, edible and tasty. They’ve got 400 to feed so it’s been fairly mass produced, things like pasta, soup, curries that sort of thing but nice and plenty of it.
“For breakfast you get a bag with cereal, porridge, a roll, juice, SPC fruit, tea and coffee; more than we can eat really.
“There’s cheese and bickies.
“We’re going out for a walk today which will be nice.”
Kelly has been providing regular reports for her friends on Facebook, noting that her daily routine includes online yoga, an exercise program including at least 5000 steps daily, reading, drawing and painting, researching subjects online and… not watching their first movie until after dinner!
But she’s now looking forward to seeing her partner Chris and their new kitten.
“When the restrictions ease, Chris and I are looking forward to some bush walking, getting out into the fresh air.
“Horse-riding of course, but it’ll just be good to get home.”