Virat Kohli and his touring India team start their quarantine after landing in Sydney


They’re here.

Aussie cricket can finally exhale, after Virat Kohli led his Indian teammates off the plane at Sydney airport to officially save the $300 million summer.

While most considered it a formality that the Indians would tour, cricket officials have had to jump through a mountain of hoops to get the world’s highest profile team into the country and their arrival means the bumper international season should be able to start without incident later this month.

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Aussie superstars David Warner, Steve Smith and Pat Cummins joined India as the other bubble boys hitting town, returning from the IPL to also begin their two-week quarantine period in the same Sydney Olympic Park hotel as the Indians.

Kohli will spend more time in the Olympic precinct than many Olympians did when they visited Sydney 20 years ago, with the athletes only permitted to leave their individual rooms for designated training sessions which are expected to take place at another bio-secure venue at Blacktown International Sports Park.

Unlike the last time he was here two years ago, Kohli was not accompanied by his wife Anushka Sharma.

She is now heavily pregnant and heading home from Dubai to India to prepare for the arrival of the couple’s first child, which will take Kohli away from Australia after the end of the limited overs series and first Test.

Only a limited number of Indian family members were allowed into the country by the Australian Government.

The likes of Warner, Smith, Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood and Glenn Maxwell have been overseas since late August and desperate for the quarantine to be over so they can see their wives, partners, and in Warner’s case – his young girls.

King Kohli gets royal quarantine treatment

Virat Kohli could be about to spend his next two weeks of Australian quarantine in Brad Fittler’s penthouse suite.

Following Wednesday night’s State of Origin, the NSW Blues are due to check out of their Pullman Hotel home base at Sydney Olympic Park on Thursday morning, at which time the facility will be immediately locked down for the arrival of Kohli’s Team India.

The Indians and Australia’s IPL superstars, including David Warner, Steve Smith, Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa, are due to touch down in Sydney on their private jet in the late afternoon on Thursday.

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They’ll then get a police escort from the airport, down Parramatta Road straight to the Pullman, where they’ll spend every waking moment over the next two weeks – with the exception of scheduled training sessions – confined to their rooms.

The hotel will be completely locked down to the public, with no other guests staying except the cricketers.

Fittler was Zampa’s sporting hero, but King Kohli will be getting the pick of the rooms, and given the tight turnaround – will be hoping the bio-security deep clean the hotel will undertake on Thursday manages to get rid of any deep heat and strapping tape left over from Origin II.

“We work within each sporting organisation’s code, to their rules and environment, and within government regulations to deliver COVID-safe world-class accommodation solutions,” said the CEO of Accor Pacific, which runs the Pullman, Simon McGrath.

“Over time we have built specific intellectual property that allows us to construct taskforces which rapidly deploy teams to put together safe precincts to facilitate the success of Australian sporting events.”

Indian and Australian cricketers will be permitted to train out at Blacktown International Sports Park during their quarantine.

There was a timely lesson for players about the strictness of quarantine on Thursday, with the New Zealand Government banning the West Indies from training anymore after players were busted compromising the bio-security bubble by sharing food and socialising in hallways of their Christchurch hotel.

NSW Health also demands the families of Indian players flying in to Sydney with the team to adhere to the bio-security arrangements.

Across the road from the Pullman, is the WBBL bubble set up at the Novotel Hotel.

Cricket Australia has set up video game, table tennis and basketball facilities for their girls, but Indian and Australian stars will be confined to their rooms as they are flying back in from overseas.

Australia’s ODI series against India begins the day after the players are released from quarantine, with Australia’s non-IPL players to enter camp on November 22 and train separately on the outside, although within their own bubble.



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Mitch Asser went in search of something greater in life and he found it — in a $40k van touring Australia’s east coast


Mitch Asser bought his first house at 19 because he was “told to” but, when that lifestyle did not feel right, he sold up and a decade later has been making more than $100,000 a year while living out of a van.

“I had a car and [house] — the perceived lifestyle that we’re told is supposed to make us happy but I just felt trapped,” the 30-year-old said.

At 16, Mr Asser left school in Newcastle in New South Wales and embarked on an apprenticeship as a power line worker earning “quite decent money”.

“I bought a house when I was 19 because that’s what I was told to do, but … I found myself drinking on weekends and suppressing my emotions because I wasn’t truly happy in my life,” he said.

Choosing the path less travelled

At 23, Mr Asser sold his house, car and belongings and followed an intuitive “whisper” to search for something greater.

The sharp change in direction got some loved ones offside.

“Other people in my family were really disappointed … I did definitely lose a few friends.”

From the inside of the back of a van, the doors open to a water view at sunrise.
“After the first week it felt quite normal, to be honest,” Mr Asser says of van life.(Supplied: Mitch Asser)

Mr Asser travelled the world for six years but when he returned to Australia he did not want to fall back into a life of bricks and mortar.

After watching a YouTube video of a couple who lived in a van that resembled an apartment he was “blown away” and bought a refurbished van for $40,000 and hit the road.

“The first two or three nights were a little bit nerve-wracking because you’re in this small space.”

A van to rival a small city apartment

Ms Asser’s van has hot water, a shower, a composting toilet, solar panels, a kitchen and a bed.

“It’s everything that you’ve got in a small apartment,” he said.

The only adjustments Mr Asser needed to make were to extend the length of the bed and increase the power capacity with external battery packs.

Additional power is a necessity for running his digital marketing business, which brings in more than $100,000 a year.

Man standing at a laptop inside the back of a van. The back doors to the van open out to a water view.
Mr Asser says when building his digital business he forgot the pleasure of watching a daily sunrise and sunset.(Supplied: Mitch Asser)

Mr Asser has travelled from southern New South Wales to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and spent months in some locations to get a feel for the people and place.

Nomadic lifestyle costs $1,500 a month

He says, aside from needing to find a reliable water supply, one of the biggest challenges of life on the road is uncertainty.

“Sometimes it’s uncertain if you’re going to have enough solar power to power everything,” Mr Asser said.

“I’ve had to overcome that by spending more time in caravan parks where I am able to just relax that little bit more.”

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Uncertainty is a challenge Mr Asser contends with more often during the coronavirus pandemic, but the benefits of his drifting lifestyle — that comes at a cost of up to $1,500 a month — he says are worth it.

“My core value is being adventurous and it really feels that while I’m being adventurous I also still feel like I have a home at the same time,” he said.

“Australia just has so many amazing, beautiful places to visit.

“Whether it’s places to park along the beach, or the rivers, and open up the back doors and you see the most spectacular views, or going into the hinterland and find some lookouts and opening the van up and just looking out over the valleys right through to the ocean.

Man sits on the floor of a van chopping up fruit.
Mr Asser admits he prefers to eat at local restaurants than cooking but this has been difficult during the pandemic.(Supplied: Mitch Asser)

Despite the romance and freedom of life on the road, ultimately Mr Asser hopes to one day find a permanent place to call home.

“Eventually I do want to settle down somewhere,” he said.

“I really want to make sure that it’s a place that I love with all my heart so that I know that I can be happy there.

“I always think if I’m on my deathbed, and I think back to my life, would I have wanted to take this leap and try something new and if the answer is ‘yes’, then I just do it.”



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