Eildon Place in Duffy is no stranger to massive upheaval. It was heavily hit in the 2003 bushfires.
Many of the same residents remain, including Melissa and Ric Hingee, who are maintaining community feeling in their street in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, just as they did in the wake of the bushfires. The Hingees lost their own house in the 2003 firestorm, Ric had built it right at the beginning, when Duffy was being developed, in the early 1970s. They were always going to rebuild and stay in their beloved street. And now, as they face another crisis, they are ensuring no one in their street gets left behind.
In self-isolation, the neighbours are still finding a way to come together, while maintaining social distancing and hygiene considerations.
Melissa last weekend set up "Cafe Eildon" outside their home where neighbours could take some time at the end of the day to step outside, sit together, have a coffee or a wine, and talk. All while maintaining a safe distance from each other.
"I only got the idea because we're at the end of the place, so there's no through traffic," Melissa said.
"And, of course, we've been holed-up and there'll be a lot more 'holing-up'.
"I made this very amateur-ish, ghastly sign, where I spray-painted 'Cafe Eildon' on the back of a corflute.
"Then I went around to each household and stood outside with the sign and asked them if they were interested in coming. And the hilarious thing was, everyone was interested.
"Two of the households brought their own chairs. I put out some of our old camping chairs. Everyone brings their own thermos or bottle of wine and cups or glasses and there's no sharing.
"There's none of this 'bring-a-plate' business. If you bring a plate, you have to hog it yourself, which is not very social, but necessary."
They are now meeting in the afternoons, taking advantage of the glorious autumn weather.
"We talked about family matters, we talked about the teachers, we talked about shopping...Actually, nobody talked about toilet paper, I think," Melissa said.
Melissa said everyone was in that "older demographic" and not only having to self-isolate but being restricted from seeing their own children and grand-children.
"It's kind of a role reversal," Melissa said. "I feel like the teenager and it is my daughter telling me not to go out."
Their meetings at Cafe Eildon have been a salve in these difficult times. In a way, the self-isolation is bringing them closer together.
"The interesting thing is, usually, we only do a bit of socialising, at Christmas, but nothing during the year," Melissa said.
"We give each other the odd wave and if we do see each other, we talk. But it's not regular contact. Our kids have grown up and moved away, it's different. But when we do get together, it's really very pleasant."
Ric Hingee said the neighbours were also keeping an eye on each other, especially the very old and very frail and making sure they had all the right supplies and food and providing little touches like exchanging a good book.
Melissa said it remained to be seen what happened next.
"We don't know what's going to happen next week, because things keep getting tougher," she said.
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