Alumni stories

A COVID-19 travel story

16 April 2020

Anna Butcher | ARLP 13

Don’t be complacent, this is serious.  EVERYBODY STAY HOME.   Wash your hands.

Obey the health directives.  This is really important for ALL of us.  Covid-19 spreads between people. It needs people to incubate and multiply.  People need to STAY AWAY from each other. We ALL need to CHANGE and do so IMMEDIATELY to contain the spread of this virus. 

We were like everyone else and a little complacent, after all it was in northern Italy and we wondered how serious this was really going to be.  Then it started to spread and parts of northern Italy went into lockdown.  Carnevale was suspended.  Carnevale is to the Italians what Royal Show week is to us Aussies.  This was getting SERIOUS.

We were bombarded in the media by misleading anecdotes and biased information, unscientific information, misinformation and missing information.

I remember those dodgy maps, in the Kimberley and how we got lost. We had limited resources and no support mechanisms, but we did speak Italian.

We needed FACTS.  Dr Norman Swan was an invaluable source as was The New Scientist.  With facts you can make informed decisions, when all you feel is confusion, fear and anger.

No more kissing and hugging or shaking hands, no touching anything, no more visits to bars, coffee shops and restaurants.  This IS Italian culture, but we needed to stay safe.  We ate breakfast at home; packed our own lunch and we cooked dinner each night.  Meals were the same each day, more varied and substantial than in the Kimberley.  8km walks were the norm; it was about 10C so only the diehards were out.  We shopped for provisions once a week. It was strategic and organized. We carried hand sanitizer and sanitized our hands before we went into shops and after we came out. We washed our hands when we got home. Remember; don’t touch your face.

Then the museums closed, the schools closed, the bars, coffee shops, all non-essential services closed.  Then we went to Holland… and we went through it all again. We stayed in an apartment close to our daughter.  It was bizarre being on the same side of the world as her; so close and yet so far. We kept away as we didn’t know if we had it. Now that we are back in Australia we are going through it for a third time.

It is important to eat well, sleep well and exercise.  Get some sunlight each day and use the OFF button on the TV. We stayed in contact with family and friends with WhatsApp video or Facetime.  Stay informed with facts.  Do something constructive with your time, there are many jobs that we didn’t have time to do.  Now you have time. Don’t take things personally.


We left Italy on 10 March. We left Holland on 17 March and we arrived in Perth on 18 March.  When the flight home is one of the highlights of your holiday, it has been a rubbish holiday!

The social, economic, emotional and psychological cost of this is inestimable.

Bad doesn’t last forever, just as good doesn’t last forever.