Sydney Backpackers Blog COVID-19 Tales
Wow what a year 2020 has turned out to be so far!
For me, 2020 started with a burst of optimism as I left the sunny shores of the US for a one year gap year abroad. I packed up my life into one large bag, said my farewells, and jumped on the long haul flight to Indonesia for a short travel stint before arriving in Australia in late January.
My arrival in Australia was fairly uneventful. Everything started off pretty much as normal and I certainly didn’t notice any signs that life as I knew it was about to change dramatically around the globe. My new Aussie life started in a social flurry spent exploring Sydney, meeting people, and finding my feet with a job at Mad Monkey Coogee Beach and a restaurant in the city.
It was only after I’d just started to settle in that I became aware of Coronavirus and what was happening abroad as I kept hearing it mentioned more and more. I wondered what this was going to mean for my time in Australia but life continued and my first few months were not really affected. Social distancing measures were only implemented by the Australian government in mid-March so I was pretty happy with that!
And then it began… COVID-19 had hit Australia and Sydney was a “hotspot”.
Restaurants started closing, loads of people became unemployed, beaches were closed, grocery stores were blocking every second check out, public transportation was empty, gyms closed and travel to other countries was banned.
Like so many others my job in the city was affected by COVID-19 closures so I decided to make the most of the situation and continue to live and work for accommodation at Mad Monkey Hostel. The previous flurry of backpackers at the hostel slowed with lots of people choosing to head home to their respective countries and others like me decided to stay and continue their Australian experience. It was a strange time as we made our choices as best we could and faced our fears.
Then life across the globe effectively stood still.
A majority of Australia was closed and most people were not leaving their houses for anything other than essential services or food. The whole world was bored at home, trying to keep busy and not go insane without social contact. But at Mad Monkey Coogee Beach we were living across from the ocean and exploring new things every day. We didn’t get “bored” like the rest.
All we had to keep us happy was workout bands, sunglasses, sunscreen, towels, and smiles but it was all we needed. During quarantine time our days consisted of working out outside, watching some classic Netflix, checking out the local area, and having fun and socialising with the other guests.
We became super close with the other Mad Monkey guests during the Coronavirus standstill. All-day and all night we spent together with the 20 of us, chatting about our future plans, getting to know each other’s personalities, laughing and joking. Many a night was spent together with drinks, chats, or games – keeping our spirits high. Our main concerns were about how we were going to make money but we worked together to help each other.
Backpackers Farmwork in Australia
There were 9 of us who eventually ended up deciding to continue our adventures together by heading north to complete our farm work. All up we were One Greek, two English, one Irish, two Argentinians, one Uruguayan, and two Americans so we were an eclectic bunch!
We went into 14 days of isolation in Queensland with the 9 of us together – taking turns cooking and cleaning and creating authentic meals from our home countries. Isolation was delicious! (Well in most cases anyway lol). As hard as it was not being able to leave our house, we actually had loads of fun.
I’m now in Far North Queensland after spontaneously buying a car and continuing my trip north with the others with the aim to find some farm work. While the work options are unknown, I’m totally positive and have my fellow Monkeys to keep me excited about the future. So far my gap year has definitely not been what I expected but I actually couldn’t have asked for anything more. My twenty Mad Monkeys have made it unforgettable and I couldn’t be happier to have met my Aussie family. Now fingers crossed I can get my second-year visa and come back to Coogee soon for a Mad Monkey reunion!
MAD MONKEY COOGEE BEACH
186 Arden St, Coogee NSW 2034