Corona Town (2020)

Images around Melbourne during the COVID-19 Pandemic

These 2020 images are mostly taken around Melbourne - Australia's home of the second deadly COVID-19 wave and the double lockdown. All images are © copyright Robert Morgan

All images were taken while complying with movement restrictions in place at the time.

On the Beach 2020

A 1959 film about the end of the world (after a nuclear war) was shot in Melbourne. It was called On the Beach and was based on the 1957 novel of the same name by Nevil Shute. The film starred Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner and Fred Astaire. I recall one scene was shot on the front steps of the State Library in Swanston Street. I was reminded of the film when I saw this gentleman alone, washing down the paving and seats outside the library, which by early April 2020 was closed as part of measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 virus.

On 4th March we saw these tourists in Georgetown, Penang (Malaysia) after they got off an enormous cruise ship for a tour around town. We later wondered if they made it home safely (as the world went crazy about 10 days later) and how the trishaw drivers are coping, now there are no tourists.

Mop and bucket in Aisle 13 !

Arriving back in Melbourne on 5th March we (like so many) wondered why there had been panic buying of toilet paper, given the virus is respiratory, not gastric.

9th March in Townsville, northern Queensland. The start of the last quiet week, before the COVID-19 storm hit us all and took over the world.

News headlines full of coronavirus stories, while flying home from Adelaide, S.A., 12th March. Ten days later, non-essential services closed down; work from home if you can.

Late March, while the weather was still warm and before tougher Stage 3 restrictions on gathering started, a suburban family practices 'social distancing' when the children visit.

Stage 3: DeGraves Street in central Melbourne. The centre strip here is usually full with tables and umbrellas, and seats occupied by patrons of the adjacent cafes, day and evening.

Bourke Street Mall, 8.55 am on the first Friday in April

Royal Arcade at Bourke Street. Too late for the Sale at Myer - it's closed.

Royal Arcade - empty, with all the shops closed

A tram stop in Elizabeth Street: is this Tourism Victoria's latest campaign?

No queues at the Hopetoun Tea Rooms, Block Arcade

The Barbers of Bulleen. Haircuts permitted under Stage 3.

The Kino Cinemas, Collins Place closed

One week before Easter. This famous chocolate shop usually has queues out the door at this time of year. This year, it's open but empty.

A local camera club print exhibition opened at a gallery on 15th March after much hard work by many members. A week later it had to close down. Like the people in the image, it was chopped in half (Image of the exhibition being dismantled).

Lift your chances with elevator etiquette

Even the cars in the car parks are practicing 'social distancing' !

Collins Street, central Melbourne at 8.00 am (peak hour) on the first Friday in April. You know it's Melbourne because of the 'odd' arrangement in the central city where right turn traffic has to turn from the left lane - except that there is no traffic.

"Can anyone hear me? Can anyone hear me? Can anyone hear me? Can . . . "

John N. seeks answer from the silent universe. Well, silent in one direction, anyway.

The trials and tribulations of meeting by Zoom.

Going down !

By mid-April petrol prices were down by over 30c/litre compared with the start of the year. And they dropped another 3c/litre the day after this image.

Don't be an Easter bunny. 10th - 13th April.

An almost empty shopping centre on the Saturday of the Easter weekend.

23rd April. Again, the price went down another 2c/litre the following day.

Central Melbourne. It took a virus for this sensible idea to happen.

5th May. Giving it away!

13th May. The party's over: the first whiff of eased gathering restrictions (today) and surprise, surprise!

A queue in a shopping centre car park, waiting to be tested for the virus, late May.

Social distancing in a cafe, 4th July. We didn't know it would be the last weekend before lockdowns were reimposed to contain the second wave of the virus, with cafes shut again.

Avalon Airport, south west of Melbourne: Qantas and Jetstar aircraft still lined up and parked on 8th July

By mid-July, with the second Stage 3 lockdown in place in Greater Melbourne and Mitchell Shire from 9th July, life was getting a little boring - time for some humour!

Mask (and photo!) by Lucy C.

Approaching a police checkpoint on the boundary of Greater Melbourne

Sign of the times, July in Melbourne

I'm obviously not that old until I can have the big party !

Stage 4 Lockdown

On 2nd August greater Melbourne went into Stage 4 lockdown and the rest of Victoria went back to Stage 3.

In Melbourne most shops closed 'for 6 weeks' (which ended up being 13 weeks). For 11 weeks we were restricted to a 5 km radius of our home, to get food and essential supplies and for exercise. Must work from home.

When on 18th August police said the government rules are that we can't DRIVE to an exercise point within our 5 km limit, the reaction from a weary public was 'robust'. That 'Can't drive' rule was gone by the next day.

Timing is everything. On 20th August a truck rolled over on the Bulleen Road bridge over the Eastern Freeway. I decided to drive to near it and take my exercise on the bridge.

The Perimeter Project

With exercise permitted within a 5 km radius of home during Stage 4 restrictions, it was time to explore the variety of photographic opportunities around this invisible perimeter. The Stage 4 lockdown went on for far longer the 6 weeks. The 5 km limit changed to a curious 25 km radius on 19th October. These images were taken between 9th September and 1st October. They are not a record of lockdown activities; rather they were an attempt to try different photographic topics within a set space (even if 'traffic' appears to be a predominant theme).

Bell Street at Darebin Creek, the limit of my 5 km radius: the bus can continue on over the creek, but I'm not allowed to.

I can't wait until November arrives ! Greensborough Road, Yallambie - where the same idiots as usual are in charge of variable message signs.

Burnt out Beamer (at a spare parts yard)

Electricity pylon in Lower Plenty

Spring arrives in West Heidelberg

Rain falling on the Plenty River, Lower Plenty

The Elm Avenue, Ruffey Lake Park, Doncaster

Fitzsimons Lane roundabout, Templestowe

Man on bridge just within 5 km radius, social distancing from shadow on freeway just outside 5 km radius

Elm buds, Ruffey Lake Park

Riding in the rain: the Main Yarra Trail at Willsmere Park, East Kew

What happens when you accept the cheapest quote for traffic signs. Others escape through my 5 km perimeter line, down the entry ramp at Tram Road.

Fitzsimons Lane roundabout in the evening

Oscar flies high, Outer Circle Trail, East Kew

The Eastern Freeway from Belford Road bridge, East Kew

The location where 'Oscar flies high' has an interesting history. This park is on the site of the railway goods yard at East Kew on the former Outer Circle Railway line. This line (built only to support land speculation) opened in 1891 and closed for passenger traffic in 1893. East Kew station, located a little further west (on the west side of Normanby Road) never reopened. The line from Riversdale Station to Deepdene reopened for passengers in 1900 and closed in 1927. Goods traffic continued through from Riversdale to this goods yard at East Kew until 1943.

Yippee, we've been given an extra hour in the evening to put the bins out. The curfew (which initially started at 8 pm) went from 2nd August to 28th September.

Union Road / Belmore Road roundabout in Balwyn.

The Union Road / Belmore Road roundabout was originally built with just one circulating lane, by the City of Camberwell in 1951, making it quite probably the oldest roundabout in Melbourne. Back then there was a limited number of intersection traffic signals and everywhere else the 'give way to the right rule' applied (Seriously - you'd be on an arterial road and when a car came out of a side street on your right, onto that arterial road, the law gave it right of way over you; it was a constant game of duck and dodge, checking if there was an oncoming vehicle that would cover for you, so you needn't give way. No wonder we had such an appalling road toll). Roundabouts worked perfectly (by default) under the give way to the right rule. However it was not until the mid 1970s, when application of the give way to the right rule started to be superseded by the wholesale implementation of Give Way signs and Stop signs (initially along arterial roads, then later everywhere), that the use of roundabouts exploded.

Alphington railway station

Doncaster Shoppingtown in the afternoon

Eucalyptus web: a very old gum tree in Westerfolds Park, Templestowe

Looking for the positives in Balwyn during lockdown

The footbridge over Darebin Creek at Darebin Parklands, Alphington/Ivanhoe

Coming out of Lockdown No. 2

A 'Ring of Steel' was created around greater Melbourne. It lasted four months, till 9th November. No one was allowed to leave without a valid, specified reason - and you needed to carry a travel permit (unless you went through at 'copper cuppa time').

Public gatherings (still within the 5 km radius) were eased in from 28th September. Up to five people from two households could meet in a public place. Wear a mask, keep 1.5 m apart. Well, a car park is a public place!

On 19th October up to 10 people could meet in a public place (now with a 25 km radius). Hairdressers open again. Melbourne went crazy, with people out picnicking to meet friends and relatives. Warringal Parklands, October 23rd.


The Emporium. Shops still shut, 24th October.

It would only be a few more days . . .

Traders getting fed up, 24th October

Limited restaurant numbers inside and out. We don't care if we're outside in the cold. It's daylight saving, the sun's still up (just) and we're out dining! 7th November.

On 26th October, no new COVID-19 cases were recorded in Victoria for the first time since June. On 28th October shops and restaurants reopened.

By 1st December, with over a month without a case of COVID-19 in Victoria, the border with Queensland opened for the first time since March. I was previously up there just before it closed and now back up there a week after it opened. Welcome to sunny Brisbane!

How odd to be getting on planes again. Onward to Rockhampton, where it was like the pandemic had never happened. 8th December.

Welcoming 2021 with fireworks, Launceston, Tas.

As the sun sets slowly in the west and we say Aloha to 2020 - and I conclude this gallery of COVID-19 happenings centred on Melbourne - the diary (at right), still on sale on the first day of 2021, sums up the situation nicely.

Like all years, 2020 was a year of possibilities, though who would have thought at the start of the year it would be possible for a pandemic to grip the world and close much of it down. Who would have thought Australia would escape better than most places , or that Melbourne would have a second lockdown? As a few COVID-19 cases flare in Sydney and escape to Melbourne at the end of 2020, we can see that 2021 will be another year of possibilities. But let's hope 2021 is not - like 2020 was - 75% off.

Diary for sale at Launceston Airport, 1st January 2021

Melbourne's CBD, with West Gate Bridge in the foreground, 1st January 2021.

POSTSCRIPT: Melbourne (and all Victoria) had its third lockdown, at Stage 4 level, for five days from Sat 13th February to Wed 17th February 2021, to stop an outbreak. It worked. On 22nd February the first vaccinations occurred in Victoria. On 26th February restrictions were eased even further than at the end of 2020. That big birthday party went ahead on 27th February !