January 8th – Launceston – Lavender farm and COVID lockdown

Normal start to the morning, breaky with the gang and the normal laughs, however it was on the way back to the room when we sported a news flash on the TV next to the foyer – Brisbane was going into a 3 day lockdown due to a positive case of the COVID UK strain who had been out in the community.

Finding out about the Brisbane lockdown

We were all like, phew, we had made it out in time and were all good. Little did we know that this was going to play havoc for us in Tasmania…..

Continued on with our plans, all met in the foyer and headed on to the Lavender Farm – was already around 10:30 by the time we left.
For this drive, we arranged the cars by the gender, girls in one and boys in the other – done for no apparent reason, but it came in handy towards the later part of the day.

Drive to the Bridestowe Lavender farm was uneventful, we reached there in about 45 minutes. At the last corner before arriving the farms, the first glimpse of the lavender covered plains were visible – wow, this was amazing, entire plains all painted PURPLE by the Lavender.

Had not realised there was an entry charge for all NON-Tasmanians, paid that and entered the Bridestowe farm.

We were greeted with amazing landscapes and out came all the camera’s clicking away 😉

Bridestowe Lavender Farm

There was a larger farm further back, but first we wanted to grab a quick bite, kids and ladies were getting peckish.
To the lavender cafe – with the menu being very limited for us, we opted for the Lavender Scones and Lavender Chai Teas.

Lavender Scones

Post the light snack and some shopping at the lavender boutique, we headed to the Lavender Plains. It is amazing to just stroll these plains and absorb the natural beauty.

Around 1 we finished the walks and pics, time to try the Lavender Ice Cream – WOW, you so have to try it. A tip – do not try the flavoured ones, just the plain LAVENDER is the best!!

It was just post 1pm we started all getting SMS’s alerts from the Tasmanian Government warning us that we could not enter Tasmania if we had been in Greater Brisbane from the 2nd of January.
Well, we were already in Tassie so that did not apply to us!! Still it made everyone a bit nervous. Me and Vik were still confident that as per the SMS we were ok and convinced all to simply carry on.

Next stop was the Wineyard in Tamar Valley. Back into the cars, and headed to the Tamar Wineyard. All the way the three of us were discussing what could happen next and Doc was convinced it was only a matter of time before we would be required to isolate since Tassie Government was targeting the message to anyone who was in Brisbane from the 2nd of January !!

Got to the Stoney Rise Wineyard, it was a very picturesque hillside Wineyard.

Stoneyrise Wineyard before we got rejected due to COVID lockdown in Brisbane

Doc was leading the pack and entered the Wineyard – getting in and scanning the COVID QR code, the very first message that flashed on his screen “are you from GREATER BRISBANE !!!”. At that very moment we all get another SMS from Tassie Government stating exactly what Doc said may happen, anyone who had been in Greater Brisbane since the 2nd of Jan and who were in Tasmania had to ISOLATE :(… Oh no, that was a bummer.
The lady behind the counter asked us the same and said she could not let us in. Fair enough, cannot really blame her, after all it was our QLD Government that declared the GREATER BRISBANE a hot spot.

Now it was plan B – well it was time for us to make plan B!! Back to the cars and on to our phones!!!

We were headed back to Launceston, and the plan was to get to a COVID testing centre to prove we were all negative, hoping the government would let us then go about our travels.
The drive was still a good 30 minutes away.
Doc meanwhile was trying to get through to the Tassie Health services hotline that was included in the SMS – and he was on hold for a looooooong time.

We got to the COVID testing centre at around 3:15pm, there was a bit of a queue, were were the third car sticking outside the testing yard. At around 3:25pm, the person directing all the cars comes to us and lets us know that we need to come tomorrow, this centre was closing at 3:30pm and we have no way of getting in today. Turns out there were no other testing centres here at all :(. We tried our best to convince him to let us through – all to no avail.

All this while Doc was on hold with the Tassie health services, finally he gets through just as we are pulling out of the testing centre. They inform us that the COVID test for us would make no difference, negative or positive – we all would have to isolate for 14 days, and also we could leave for Brisbane today as long as we did not go places and kept isolated till our flight!
That made things very clear for us.
Next was a call to Flight centre, got the 12 of us booked on the Virgin flight that evening – we were lucky we got seats – the plane was filling up fast. Flight centre also did inform us that we were going to get a refund of all the unused Hotels and Cruise bookings & the return flights would be credited- so a small bit of good news in all this mess.

Got to the hotel and as instructed by the Tassie Health person, we had to now wear masks to enter the hotel and keep to ourselves. Everyone into their rooms to quickly pack up. It must have been the fastest packup we all did. In less than 15 mins we were back in the cars and luggage loaded.

Arrived at the airport with an hour before the checkin counters opened. Parked the cars at the rental returns bay and sat around munching on the chips that Meeta had bought earlier and some snacks that Doc’s mum made for all to share – thank you Pushpa kaki :)…… we sat and just replayed what a day it had been :(.

why did Greater Brisbane had to be declared a HOT SPOT 😦

Checkin process was quick, seemed like a lot of Queenslanders impacted by this issue were heading back, the flight was full.

In the departure lounge, it was time to get some food for everyone, flight was at 7:50pm and food on domestic flights were crap – and yes I am talking about buying onboard, it is so sub-par.

The two food outlets at the airport were nice, and we were able to get a good snack for all.

Flight left on time, and arrived in Brisbane just before 10:30pm. Farewelled all parties and then to the carpark to collect my car. First stop was mum’s home, she had prepped some food for us.

It had been one hell of a roller coaster today, this morning we were enjoying the lavender farm and its amazing ice cream and now we were back in Brisbane – holiday over. Wow, this is life in the COVID times.

So instead of getting upset at what we could not do, I look at the glass half full and see what we were able to achieve:
– I appreciate the 3 days that we got to see and enjoy Launceston & its sights and the good times we all shared
– and feeling blessed that we got to attend all of Dada’s last rituals that commenced the following week and be fully there

Till next time……..

About dharmeshkalyan

Have always loved travelling and will continue to pursue this love. Favourite Travel quotes: “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine
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