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Living Lightly column

The art of covid-19 travel

By Chris McGorlick

As days get longer, wattle blooms, and the thought of spring teases amid the icy grips of winter, I start to feel the need to move. No, not star-jumps. Rather to bust out, throw off the old routine, seek adventure. Usually this would involve seeking a far-flung, distant, or exotic location, and spending some time soaking up some ‘other-ness’.

Right now, though, with COVID-19 still impacting our lives and with a mind to the ecological cost of fossil-fuelled travel, crossing borders – let alone oceans – just isn’t on the cards.

Which has led me to question exactly what it is I’m looking for when I travel, and whether I might find it closer to home…

The best travel stories always drip with cultural ‘otherness’. Staying in a foreign family’s household, visiting an ancient cultural site, seeing a wild beast in its habitat, shopping in a market, participating in ceremony.

Perhaps my desire for otherness, could be satisfied with a new perspective. Maybe I can find the spirit of adventure hiding in plain sight on my doorstep?

A friend told me recently that moving to the other side of our town, Yackandandah, reshaped her experience of place. That her old routines had been replaced with new vantages, opportunities and daily rhythms.

Recently I rode my bike for the first time through Wodonga. Despite years of living nearby, and innumerable drives along High Street, I saw the city from a new perspective and it felt completely new and different.

There are dozens of pathways to otherness locally; cycling roads never before ventured; hiking at night, camping in a local forest, staying in a nearby town without the car, canoeing down the river, walking across town via back streets.

The internet, of course, can open a portal to other worlds from the confines of home to satisfy the migratory urge. A different friend recently shared a Youtube channel hosting short videos sharing the view from windows around the world. My guilty pleasure of recent days has been “The Life of…” videos by Li Ziqi, sharing the beauty of rural life in China.

In terms of bridging distance, “travelling” beyond our own doorsteps with the lightest of footprints and bringing different cultures and worldviews closer to us at a time when physically distance is the norm, we’ve never had more options available to us.

Where and how will you “travel” next?