Rachel and Daniel Weeks were prepared for isolation long before Australia’s coronavirus restrictions came into place, and it had nothing to do with the disease.
The couple has spent the past two months on a far-flung island in the middle of the Bass Strait and they say the timing could not have been better.
It was about four years ago that Daniel spotted a social media post calling for volunteers to take up a post on Deal Island.
Known as Tasmania’s northern-most national park, access to the island about halfway between Wilsons Promontory in Victoria and Flinders Island north of Tasmania is limited to those who come by sea.
The charter plane airport was closed because it was too dangerous.
To volunteer on the island seemed a far-fetched dream at times for them, as the two have full-time jobs and children at home.
But Daniel could not let go of the idea, and so he and Rachel put in an application.
Three years later, the Adelaide-based couple found themselves carrying out their social isolation at the edge of the world.
“We thought there was probably never a good time to do it so we just sort of bit the bullet and did it,” said Rachel.
“Turns out it was actually the perfect time to do it.”
Rachel and Daniel arrived on Deal Island on March 3 and whilst COVID-19 was flooding the news, Australia had yet to put in place its strict restrictions.
“There was certainly no talk of any sort of lockdowns,” Rachel said.
“It all seemed to happen within about a week of us arriving.
The couple had been preparing for isolation for about four months, but they couldn’t have predicted that the rest of Australia would go into isolation too.
“The things that we thought we’d miss out on have all come to a halt, so we’re not really missing out on anything,” Rachel said.
“Because everybody is going through isolation at home, all the social media posts, people posting recipes for bread and things like that, we’ve actually found quite handy.
She said whilst they were worried about family and friends back home, isolating on the island was a far better option.
“We just can’t believe how lucky we are because we’ve got miles and miles of walking tracks,” she said.
“We can go hiking, we can go down to the beach, we can have barbeques on the beach whenever the weather allows.”
But it is not all picnics and walks.
During their three months on the island, the couple must maintain the historic buildings and walking tracks.
“The lighthouse was built in the late 1840s and it’s the highest lighthouse in the southern hemisphere. It’s no longer running, but there’s all beautiful ruins around that,” Rachel said.
“There’s quite a few buildings that we just have to maintain and do any repairs that we can do.”
The only thing that has changed is that the island is receiving far fewer kayakers and yachties.
“We’re probably more isolated than we expected, so as a result we have lots of scone mix, which we haven’t used,” laughed Rachel.
“We were told you could trade with the yachties if you baked them scones.”
As for the island, they’ve fallen in love with it.
“It’s a pretty amazing feeling to know that there’s just no one. No one else but you and the elements and the wildlife,” she said.
“We definitely consider ourselves very lucky to be sitting out the isolation here.
“We couldn’t have picked a better time in the end to do it.”