How to have a great Victorian summer after … everything

How to have a great Victorian summer after … everything


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After more than 30,000 Victorians missed out on Christmas Day and with tens of thousands of cases of COVID-19 popping up each day, it could be easy to fall into a slump about the start of another pandemic-plagued year.

But pull yourself away from doomscrolling headlines and head outside, says a leading psychologist, as this summer could be one of the most enjoyable, meaningful and spontaneous.

The Costin family are having an idyllic time compared to their 2020 holiday nightmare.

The Costin family picking fruit at Payne’s Orchard this week. After COVID blew up their holiday plans last summer, this summer they are keeping things low-risk.Credit:Justin McManus

Last year the Bacchus Marsh family drove north to Queensland just after Christmas to visit family, but had the entire trip derailed by border restrictions.

“As soon as we arrived in Brisbane, Victoria closed the border with only 24 hours to get back, so we ended up being locked out of the state [Victoria] for 17 days,” said dad Nathan Costin.

Ideas for a COVID-safe Victorian summer


  • Take out a boat on the Yarra River – a rowboat or kayak from the Fairfield Boat House or a motorised boat from Southbank (two companies GoBoat and On A Boat). 
  • Head out snorkelling in Half Moon Bay
  • Hit the surf at a coastal beach or try Melbourne’s Urbnsurf park in Tullamarine.


  • Take the family out of town to pick berries at a pick your own fruit farm
  • Book in for a country trail ride for an afternoon on horseback 
  • For a spontaneous camping trip find available spots in Victoria’s national parks, or free campsites with no booking required via Wikicamps 


  • There are at least 10 outdoor cinemas in and around the city.
  • There are dozens of open-air markets to choose from – including the Queen Victoria Market summer night market.
  • Head out of town to one of many country pubs boasting a great beer garden.

This year the family are keeping things local and as COVID-safe as possible. They’ve swapped a trip to Queensland for a quiet family getaway down the coast, and are opting for outdoor activities close to home – including fruit picking at Payne’s Orchards in Bacchus Marsh where they spoke to The Sunday Age this week.

“We’re definitely not going to leave Victoria but there’s enough here and my wife and I have been really intentional to give our money to small businesses around our local areas because they’re the ones who really suffered,” Mr Costin said.

“It’s something fun for the kids – showing them where our food comes from and it’s an outdoor activity where you don’t have to wear a mask”.

The key to a great summer is focusing on what you can control by opting for activities that are less likely to be cancelled – those that are outdoors or can be done spontaneously, according to Australian Psychological Society president Tamara Cavenett.

Outdoor activities are fun and can keep the spontaneity in summer. Credit:Paul Jeffers

“There is so, so much about Australia and being outdoors that’s really worthwhile,” she said.

Ms Cavenett said we now know much more about how to control the virus, we have high vaccination rates and the most severe restrictions on movement and seeing loved ones are now behind us.

“Like how everyone got really creative in lockdown, now it’s just about getting really creative with living with the new normal.

“It’s a beautiful time of year. We’re going to go through this over the next few months trying to settle in [to a new normal] … we have so many options. We have wonderful food, we have wonderful ways of celebrating and just use the Australian weather to really make the most of it.”

In the city, the Henderson family, from Sydney, spent a few hours meandering up and down the Yarra River on a motorised GoBoat this week.

“We wanted to take the boat on the Yarra. It was a great way we could do it ourselves and not be around other people,” said mum Yianoula.

The Henderson family, James and Yianoula and kids Beatrice,11, and Freddy, 8, aren’t letting rising case numbers ruin their summer.Credit:Wayne Taylor

“It was a great family activity together, particularly through the botanical gardens and spotting the swans on the river with their cygnets.”

The Hendersons aren’t letting the surging cases numbers get in the way of their time down south – so far the holiday has included a day at The Ashes, a trip to the Chanel exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria and watching the five-hour Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage performance at the Princess Theatre.

“We take all the precautions and follow all the rules,” said dad James.

Ms Cavenett said it was healthy to “unplug” from constant conversations around COVID and case numbers and use the summer to make some new memories forgone during the past two years.

“I think it’s now time to just make sure that you’re taking care of yourself and enjoying those moments,” she said.

“Yes, outdoors and yes with smaller groups but still making those moments special because, at the end of the day, we just want to be around those we love.”

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