‘Playing the saxophone made lockdown bearable!’

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Saxophone playing grey nomad
With the caravan park all but empty, Lisa has discovered a passion for the saxophone

When Australia’s first round of travel restrictions were eased, full-time grey nomad Lisa M was thrilled that she could finally ‘escape’ three months of isolation in Queensland and head interstate to visit her son. Unfortunately for Lisa the state she was heading to was Victoria … and no sooner had she arrived there than the Covid situation deteriorated dramatically and she found herself ‘stuck’ all over again.

Lisa is immunocompromised so is vulnerable to the virus and, as a solo traveller, is also heavily impacted by isolation.

Happily, she is also an incredibly positive person and has been determined to look on the bright side of life. For the past few months, she has been stranded at a caravan park in the Yarra Ranges which – although over an hour from Melbourne and surrounded by mountains – still falls within the ‘Greater Melbourne Metropolitan area’ and is subject to ongoing strict Stage 4 lockdown restrictions.

“I have to say that if you’re going to be locked down anywhere, I honestly can’t think of a better place!” said Lisa. “It’s heavenly here! The scenery is spectacular, everyone has been amazingly friendly and reassuring, and I am surrounded by gorgeous walking trails.”

For most of this lockdown, Lisa has only been allowed outside for an hour a day to exercise, although this has just been extended to two hours.

“We are not even allowed to go and visit each other within the van park and we have to wear a mask anytime we step outside,” she said. “I have been saying that solitude isn’t so bad when you choose it, but having it inflicted upon you sucks!”

Lisa has kept herself occupied by doing lots of little jobs around her vintage caravan such as polishing the old corroded aluminium window frames and fly screens, and sewing masks. However, her main occupation has been playing her saxophone.

“It went from a once-in-a-blue-moon hobby to a full-on obsession!” said Lisa. “My goal was to learn to play 50 songs during lockdown … and I am now up to 75!”

Lisa plays up to five hours a day from Monday to Friday, and says having the caravan park practically to herself means she doesn’t have to worry too much about the noise.

“I resist playing on the weekends though to give the dam construction workers staying here some quiet time on their days off,” she said. “Playing music makes me feel really happy and I am so thankful I have had that to occupy my mind and keep my spirits up.”

So, with Victoria’s virus numbers on the way down, what are Lisa’s plans if and when she is free to travel again?

“I’m honestly trying not to think too much about that right now as making any kinds of plans this year has proven to be rather futile so far!” she said. “I am just trying to go with the flow, make the most of what I have and where I am right now, and I will cross that ‘where to next?’ bridge when the roads aren’t blocked off.”

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