I always laugh a little when I tell people that I have been self-isolating long before it was cool; this time, though, it is truer than ever. It's almost like the entire world has decided all of a sudden that they need to live like me: behind closed doors, barely getting out to see other people, sinking deeper and deeper into the depths of the Internet. At this point, however, it still feels like the whole thing is going to blow over in a few months, tops, and all the restrictions for the interstate travel shall be lifted even sooner than that.

Until then, I have to wait and see, and for now I will set my camp on the quiet Murrumbidgee River. This beautiful spot is situated about 20 km off the town called Hay, and it is completely empty (the spot, of course, not the town), which is exactly the way I like it. Also, there is a fair bit of drizzle by the time I arrive, which produces a rather spectacular rainbow by the end of the day. A good omen, I say!

Hello, Murrumbidgee.Hello, Murrumbidgee.

Reflections in puddles.Reflections in puddles.

Hello, rainbow.Hello, rainbow.

Bye, day!Bye, day!

Days begin to slowly roll on in blissful solitude. Autumn is settling in, and it starts to get a little bit cold in the mornings, and I finally have a chance to try out the diesel heater that I have inside the trailer. It works beautifully, barely eating any fuel and giving me plenty of warmth on a chilly damp morning.

In the wee hours of the morning.In the wee hours of the morning.

Local wildflowers.Local wildflowers.

Perfect stillness.Perfect stillness.

More perfect stillness.More perfect stillness.

As days turn into weeks, I am more and more pleased with my choice of the spot for my self-isolation. Only occasional people come by during weekends, most of them just to get their fishing boats on water, and barely any setting up tents for the night. My only permanent neighbours are a small family of lizards that live in a tree in front of my trailer, and a rather shy (but quite big) goanna who visits occasionally. These neighbours are very quiet and mind their own business, which is exactly what makes them perfect; and the surrounding beautiful scenery gives me plenty to do with my camera and (occasionally) tripod.

My little camping buddies.My little camping buddies.

My big camping buddy: Wolfgang the Goanna.My big camping buddy: Wolfgang the Goanna.

Look at him go!Look at him go!

At dusk.At dusk.

I use this opportunity to further polish my skills at astrophotography. Nights are clear for the most part, and the moon is not bothering me, and the Milky Way rises at just the right time and angle with its brightest and most striking portion exactly where I want it. I also experiment for the first time with taking pictures of star trails, and after a couple of false starts they turn out surprisingly decent. As do a few panoramic shots of the Milky Way stretching arch-wise across the deep starry sky.

At night.At night.

A starswirl.A starswirl.

Milky Way, unobstructed.Milky Way, unobstructed.

Of course, sunrises and sunsets also keep me busy every so often. The river slowly meanders through the wide plains that surround Hay, creating lots of pools of still water with dead trees sticking out of them, giving home to a great many birds and fish. There's plenty of room to play with various angles and compositions; and, of course, no sunrise or sunset is created the same, and the ever-changing display of colours and clouds in the east and the west is the best entertainment ever.

Good sunsets keep on coming.Good sunsets keep on coming.

Delicious colours!Delicious colours!

A slightly cloudy night is not too bad either.A slightly cloudy night is not too bad either.

On a quiet morning.On a quiet morning.

Golden light is pretty awesome.Golden light is pretty awesome.

The arch.The arch.

Some rather exotic-looking clouds.Some rather exotic-looking clouds.

More star trails.More star trails.

My only neighbours.My only neighbours.

Thus April slowly ends, and May begins. There are still no end of Covid restrictions in sight; the country is still battling through its first wave of plague. The fact that I can't cut my hair anywhere is getting a little annoying, but the grocery and bottle shops are thankfully still open—even if with sad empty shelves where toilet paper, hand wash, pasta, and instant noodles used to be. I discover that one of the local servos has free showers, which helps me a great deal to conserve my own water in the tanks of the trailer. And there is also a dump point in town for my portable toilet, which practically completes my small list of requirements for a camping-friendly town. Very well done, Hay!

'Tis the mushroom season now.'Tis the mushroom season now.

Eat it, Alice! Eat it!Eat it, Alice! Eat it!

Reflections are underrated.Reflections are underrated.

Moon is visiting.Moon is visiting.

Winter is inevitably coming, however. There are more and more foggy mornings each day, and it's getting so cold during the night that the camera lens gets covered in mist, which puts an end to lengthy night sky shootings, such as star trails and time lapses. Moon also returns, and I try and use it to light the last of my star trail shots, which is a fine example of making lemonade out of proverbial lemons that life dishes out to you sometimes.

A moonlit starswirl.A moonlit starswirl.

A rather foggy morning.A rather foggy morning.

Awoooooo!..Awoooooo!..

There is also less and less sunlight every day, and I have to use my generator once in a while: a life-saving purchase, indeed! Small incidents and meetings break my self-sufficient solitude only occasionally. On 20th, the water level in the river suddenly drops about a metre down: they must be doing some irrigation works somewhere. On 22th, an unfortunate fisherman can't get his boat out of the water, because his car gets a bit bogged in the mud; I play a good Samaritan and assist him on a small recovery procedure with the help of my MaxTrax traction pads (yet another fortuitous purchase). And on 25th, two policemen suddenly pay me a visit and ask me very friendly if everything's alright and if I get harassed by other people; but I suspect that it was the people who live on a property some 500 metres away sent them here, perhaps annoyed by the ever-present sight of my trailer amidst the trees in the distance.

A little stray rainbow as seen in the wild.A little stray rainbow as seen in the wild.

Fire!Fire!

Water!Water!

Milky Way, x2.Milky Way, x2.

Magellanic Clouds.Magellanic Clouds.

I also finally give in to temptation and buy myself a drone (ordered online and delivered to the Hay's post office): not for shooting video, but just to play with compositions that are otherwise inaccessible to me. It's a lovely little toy, and I do manage to get some nice-looking shots with it; unfortunately, I have to be very conscious of the birds of prey that frequent the area, and the drone once nearly gets attacked in the sky by a very angry kite.

Life by the river.Life by the river.

Gloomy, but quiet.Gloomy, but quiet.

Bye-bye.Bye-bye.

And just like that, the Covid restriction season is finally over in New South Wales, and it's about time I wrap up my two-month sojourn on the Murrumbidgee River. Thinking about possible destinations in the meantime, I finally set my sights back on the East Coast, and on 30th of May I leave the river bank in the morning and head towards Sydney. Time to take some things from storage, put some there in return, service my car, catch up with friends, and then... probably off towards the ocean somewhere. There's plenty of small national parks in the southern portion of the state, and I am sure that at least a few of them would be a great change of scenery for me.

Bye, river! Bye, dead trees in the water! It was wonderful to spend a nice quiet autumn in your company, but the Pacific Ocean beckons me now. And, well, to have all the barbershops finally open is also a massive bonus.

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