New South Wales reaches more than 500 cases of COVID-19 with 97 new infections By Sarah Thomas

Figures published by the health department showed that as of 8:00pm on Saturday there were 533 positive cases.

NSW Health said several new diagnoses of COVID-19 had occurred among backpackers in the Bondi area.

It is warning that some new cases in Bondi are linked to two parties last weekend.

People who attended the Boogie Wonderland party at the Bucket List bar in Bondi and another event at Club 77 in Darlinghurst on March 15 are urged to be alert for symptoms.

If symptoms develop they should seek testing and tell the medical service that they attended one of the parties.

A childcare worker is also among the latest confirmed cases.

The employee worked at Smeaton Grange Young Academics Child Care Centre.

All staff and children who attended the centre between March 2 and 16 are being contacted and told to self-isolate.

The centre will be closed until March 30.

Two more cases have also emerged from a Sydney Church of Christ service on March 8 at Ryde Civic Centre, bringing the total to nine out of a congregation of 300.

NSW has of 8:00pm yesterday had 52,663 cases tested with 52,130 excluded.

Out of the 533 cases, 251 were acquired overseas, 131 were acquired through contact with a confirmed case, 46 came from unidentified contact and 105 are under investigation.

There have also been five cruise ship voyages linked to COVID-19 cases that have docked in Sydney this month: two trips on the Voyage of the Seas, and the Ovation of the Seas, the Ruby Princess and Celebrity Solstice.

All passengers and crew have been asked to self-isolate.

The latest rise in cases comes as authorities struggle to maintain social distancing, particularly across Sydney’s beaches including Bondi Beach which was closed yesterday.

Due to high numbers of people gathering the following beaches have also been closed: Manly (south end), Tamarama, Maroubra, Bronte, Coogee, Clovelly, Dee Why, Freshwater, Long Reef and Palm Beach.

The Northern Beaches Council warned that more public areas would be closed “if people don’t follow the rules”.

Yesterday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard insisted people heed advice on social distancing amid the rising number of infections.

He said cases had doubled in the past week and the problem was still “over the horizon”.

“Save yourself and save your family. Listen to the messages that are coming out, not just from Government officials but from doctors.”

A ban on travel to Lord Howe Island was also announced yesterday and came into effect at 5:00am today in a bid to keep the virus away from the small community of 347 people.

The borders are closed to all except residents, health workers and other essential service workers.

COVID-19 Assessment Clinic at Wollongong Hospital

 COVID-19 Assessment Clinic at Wollongong Hospital.

The district’s public health director Curtis Gregory said the clinics will enable many people to be assessed without having to present to an emergency department.

“The clinic has been set up to help us respond to COVID-19, and channel patients away from the ED and other parts of the hospital,” he said.

“We are now in the targeted action phase (of our pandemic plan) and it’s focused on how we handle people coming into the system in the most efficient way so they can be tested and treated as quickly as possible.”

Mr Gregory said people did not require a GP referral to undergo testing at the clinic, but advised them to call ahead to minimise wait times.

People who had returned from overseas in the last 14 days, and most importantly, were showing fever and/or respiratory symptoms including cough, shortness of breath or sore throat were encouraged to attend the clinic.

“Close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases are also within the criteria for such testing,” he said.

The clinic is located at the back of Lawson House on the Wollongong Hospital campus. Entry to the clinic is via the dedicated parking and drop-off zone off Loftus Street, which is clearly sign posted.

The clinics will be staffed by specialist nursing and infection control staff and will operate from 8.30am to 5pm, 7 days a week. To book a time, phone 4222 5078.

The Wollongong COVID-19 Assessment Clinic started operating on Monday morning, with similar clinics to be established at Shellharbour and Shoalhaven Hospitals as required.

While the clinics are in operation, Wollongong’s Heart Health Centre will be temporarily relocated to Level 1 of Lawson House.

As part of its plan to deal with the threat of COVID-19, the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District has also increased staffing district wide.

“We’re trying to flatten the curve – there’s a peak and we’re trying to reduce that peak, to reduce the effect on the health system,” Mr Gregory said.

He urged the public to remain alert to COVID-19 symptoms. The most up-to-date facts and advice on COVID-19 was available on the NSW Health website.

Criteria for COVID-19 Testing Clinics

  • Returned from overseas in the last 14 days AND showing acute respiratory symptoms (e.g. cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) and/or fever
  • Close contact of a person with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis

The best way to protect against COVID-19 is the same as any respiratory infection such as the flu:

  • Always practise good hygiene
  • Wash your hands often. Wash for at least 20 seconds with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or a flexed elbow
  • Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Stay home from work or school if you are sick

We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe here.

Natural Burial

Shoalhaven Council has approved  Natural Burial Portion at the Cambewarra (Good Dog) Cemetery

Address7 W Cambewarra Rd, North Nowra NSW 2541

Natural Burial

Although not currently a common practice in Australia, there is a growing interest in natural burials. Natural burial is a process by which the body of a deceased person is interred in the soil in a manner that does not inhibit decomposition and allows the body to recycle naturally. It is seen as an alternative to contemporary Western burial methods.  Subject to State and Local Government rulings, natural burials may take place on both private land and in any cemetery that will accommodate this technique.

Prior research is required by the person electing a natural burial as not all local government authorities allow this style of burial.  Currently there are no natural burial site facilities in the Illawarra. Natural burial facilities exist in the Shoalhaven and further information can be found at

A brief overview

  • Every Natural Burial must comply with the Public Health Regulation (Disposal of Bodies) 2002 (Regulation) under the Public Health Act of NSW.
  • The body is be prepared without chemical preservatives or disinfectants such as embalming fluid that may destroy the microbial decomposers active in breaking the body down.
  • The deceased may be buried in a biodegradable coffin, casket, or shroud.
  • The grave does not use a burial vault or outer burial container that prohibits the body’s contact with soil.
  • The grave should be dug to a depth shallow enough to allow microbial activity similar to that found in composting.
  • Often burials take place with no obvious signs, i.e. headstone or plaques, and family members are given location details of the burial sites.

What is natural burial?

A natural burial attempts to return a body to the earth in as natural a way as possible. This generally involves a rejection of embalming processes, cremation and caskets or coffins that won’t biodegrade with time and often takes place in green spaces, such as wildflower meadows, protected woodland and park land.

Some natural burial sites will allow graves to be marked while others do not permit any identifying features whatsoever, in effect turning the whole site into a memorial.


What are the advantages of a natural burial?

Depending on your personal perspective on death, there can be a number of benefits and advantages to natural burials. First and foremost, they are a far more environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional burial.

As both embalming and the use of traditional coffins and caskets significantly slows natural decomposition, a traditional burial can have a lasting impact on the immediate environment. Natural burials, on the other hand, reject these processes in order to return the body to the earth in as natural a way as possible and to help it become part of the natural life cycle by returning the body to the very soil from which everything grows.

Natural burials can also be considerably less expensive than traditional burials and often play an important role in conservation efforts. When spaces are set up as natural burial grounds, they are protected from development and have a long-term future as a wild space in which nature is allowed to thrive.


For those who would prefer not to be consumed by vulture nor spore, there’s a more traditional option. Green burial looks pretty much like a normal burial, accept for a few important differences. No embalming fluids or toxic chemicals of any kind can be used. The grave is often dug by hand (either by the green burial ground staff or, if they choose, the loved ones themselves). There is no cement plot. Only biodegradable caskets, such as wicker ones, can be used, or the body is simply placed in an unbleached cloth shroud. This allows the corpse to decompose naturally, returning its sustenance to the Earth. Many green burial grounds also act as wildlife refuges, creating safe spaces for animals and native plant life—families can choose from a variety of live, wild grasses and flowers to adorn the grave.

Aside from being environmentally friendly, this is a cheaper option than traditional burial considering the price tags on caskets, embalming, etc. While prices around the country vary, according to Undertaking LA—a mortuary that promotes green burial—the average funeral in Los Angeles is over $8000 not including the burial plot, whereas they offer green burial for under $7000 including the plot itself.

Uta’s March 2020 Update

A few days ago my blogger friend Judith said: “Quarantine and self-isolation are words that chill me. I am one of those people who are out and about most days. The thought of being confined to the house scares me.”

Here is what I answered: I reckon self-isolation can be a good thing if you want to read and write more. I am sad that at present I cannot hug my loved ones. Self-isolation means, they cannot visit me at my home. I am with Peter, my husband, who is suffering from bladder cancer and a heart condition. When we need new supplies, they’ll be left at the door. It is a blessing though that we can still see all our children on the phone! Here in the Illawarra is perfect summer weather right now, and this is very enjoyable indeed. 🙂

These Movies I find interesting

There are several good movies Peter and I have been watching recently online. And there are some other films from this year’s Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale) that also do look quite interesting to me.

Set in the 1930s, ‘High Ground’ is inspired by true events. It goes back some 12 years to a massacre of an Indigenous tribe in Northern Australia. It says: “. . . the film explores the nature of loyalty and the ability to distinguish freely between right and wrong, in opposition to the dogmas of the age in which you live.”

“. . .  a father and daughter struggling with his dementia.”

This tale is set in present-day Berlin. A refugee is illegally crossing by boat from Africa to Europe.

The above three movies were shown at the Berlin Festival.

The following two movies I watched with Peter online. We both liked them very much!

81 year old Mr Stein (Pierre) gets a computer, and his life changes!

Pierre has heart trouble and often gets back pain. His daughter comes in to look after his needs. So there are some similarities to the way my 84 year old husband lives. The movie is set in Paris, which we loved! Alas, the computer gives Pierre a new lease of life . . .

There is something else in this movie that I find of special interest, namely how one of the characters in the movie struggles to become a writer, and how success beckons by interpreting the events in his own life and writing about it!

It is a love story even though the marriage breaks up!

This is a very interesting story about the break up of a marriage in America. I think the husband likes everything about his wife, and he very much loves their little son. But to the great disappointment and heartache of the wife, the husband is not exactly faithful anymore. Both have demanding jobs. They do not want to live together anymore. He works in New York, she works in Los Angeles. In the end they come out of a very expensive divorce  still being good friends and having good family relationships!


I want to copy here, a write-up about this very interesting father/daughter relationship in ‘The Roads not taken’.

Javier Bardem and Elle Fanning shine as a father and daughter struggling with his dementia

The Roads Not Taken



Dir/scr: Sally Potter. UK. 2020. 85mins

The game we all play of wondering where we’d be if we’d taken different forks in life’s journey provides the narrative bedrock of Sally Potter’s new film, which pairs Javier Bardem and Elle Fanning as a dementia sufferer and his journalist daughter having a bad day in New York. But two bravura performances can’t disguise the thinness of a script that exposes just how uninteresting this ‘sliding doors’ game can be. The Roads Not Taken redeems itself, partly, through the compassion and sensitivity with which it deals with the mind-ravaging illness at its core.

 Sensitive, nuanced performances

High production values, including some fine, caressing camerawork by DoP Robbie Ryan, and the draw of the two leads (ably abetted by a couple of extended cameos from Salma Hayek and Laura Linney) will help The Road Not Taken find an audience on a world tour that begins when Bleecker Street release it in selected theatres Stateside starting on 13 March. It’s an awkward fit between the arthouse and commercial melodrama, and an out of competition slot may have served it better in Berlin. Skewing towards older viewers, Potter’s latest may turn out to lack box-office staying power.

Adapting its title from Robert Frost’s much-quoted poem ‘The Road Not Taken’, the film follows the lead of Still Alice in trying to convey a degenerative mental disorder (in this case frontotemporal dementia) from the inside. But The Roads Not Taken does more than adopt the point of view of Bardem’s Leo, who at the start of the film is seen staring into space in his unadorned Brooklyn apartment while his carer Xenia (Branka Katic) rings the doorbell and his daughter Molly (Fanning) desperately attempts to reach him by phone. It goes further, entering the mind of a man who outsiders (including a brusque optometrist) consider to be “not all there”.

Over the course of the film’s day, we watch as a loving but distressed Molly, wrangles her father to the dentist and to that optometrist, while simultaneously dealing with a work crisis over the phone, What should be a simple task becomes an ordeal punctuated by little incidents that befall the inarticulate, confused Leo – he wets himself, bangs his head, hugs a stranger’s dog in the supermarket. What Molly is not seeing, but we are, is where Leo goes when he’s not in the here and now. Today, it’s two places; a Greek island and some unspecified part of rural Mexico. We soon realise that these sequences spliced into the New York present are not flashbacks, but little imagined stories he’s playing on some sort of cerebral projector; stories about who he might have become if he had taken two of those other roads way back then.

Alas, this laudable attempt to show how intensely the light can still burn in the mind of a person who seems to be dimming is compromised by the overwrought melodrama of the Mexican story, in which Leo imagines what would have happened if he had stayed in his native country with his first love, the fiery Dolores (Salma Hayek), and the sheer weakness of the Greek strand, a nothing of a tale that sees a melancholy Leo meeting a young woman (Milena Tscarntke) who reminds him of the daughter he abandoned years before to pursue a career as a novelist. Leo’s imagination seems to tend to clichés – Mexican rooms done out in red ochres and sunflower yellows, a blue and white Greek beachside taverna just ready to be Instagrammed – and these alternative outcomes he drifts us off to are far less compelling, in the end, than the father and daughter story that is playing out in the real world.

With their sensitive, nuanced performances, Fanning and Bardem both lift a script that, in the hand of less able actors, would have risked coming across as a grotesquely sentimental. Ryan’s gentle handheld camera often homes in on their faces, blurring the background as if to convey the loneliness of each character’s ordeal, before pulling back to frame the two sharing, for example, a rare moment of mutual laughter. A string, keyboard and percussion soundtrack composed by Potter herself strikes an unexpectedly jaunty note at times, in a film that, for all its dark subject matter, is suffused by sunlight.

Production companies: Bleecker Street, Hanway Films, BFI, BBC Films

International sales: Hanway Films,

Producer: Christopher Sheppard

Production design: Carlos Conti

Editing: Emilie Orsini, Sally Potter, Jason Rayton

Cinematography: Robbie Ryan

Music: Sally Potter

Main cast: Javier Bardem, Elle Fanning, Branka Katic, Milena Tscharntke, Laura Linney, Salma Hayek


All the videos and write-ups to these movies you can find here:

Diary: Climate Emergency

I wonder how many Australians still feel that we are in a ‘climate emergency’?

To my mind this climate emergency is ongoing. 

I have the feeling that our politicians treat us mostly as though we were children. They try to keep us in the dark as much as possible. But I think even children should not be treated like this. When children notice, they have been conned, they do feel terrible. Most children  notice eventually that they have been lied to. I do not believe that this makes them feel better.

I realize of course that there are quite a few adults who want to put  off facing the truth. These adults do not seem to mind a few lies just to keep them going. I keep thinking about global warming. It seems to me. to have to put up with warming of 2C, is something that is more or less already a given and requires enormous adjustments all over the world. We could at least aim to not let it go further than 2C. For that we desperately need leadership of corporations and governments!