THE region’s annual grape harvest is usually a cause for celebration for those who contribute the raw material to some of the nation’s finest wines as well as those whose work gets the fruit off the vines, but this year even it hasn’t failed to be touched by the coronavirus pandemic.
A good example of that are Swedish backpackers Cassandra Rosman and Arthur Krogh.
The couple spent this week picking grapes at Jack and Lois Doeven’s Drumborg property, but an email from the Swedish embassy has forced a quick change of plans, which will see them leave for home tomorrow.
“It said that (the government) has planes they arranged through Qatar and we could buy tickets at a cheaper price than normal,” Mr Krogh said.
“They are leaving until April 15. We didn’t have much time to think about it, so we bought the tickets last weekend.”
They also followed recommendations from both our government and the Australian government to go back home.
Comfort also played a part.
“The problem here after they closed all the campsites we haven’t had anywhere to live except on the farm,” Mr Krogh said.
“For us it will be kind of nice going back even to have a proper shower and bed.”
They leave Melbourne tomorrow and will transit through Qatar before landing in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark.
“Denmark and Sweden have an agreement so we can go over from there,” Mr Krogh said.
That is via a road between the two countries which are separated by sea. A tunnel emerges in the middle of the sea to a bridge which will take the couple back to their home city of Malmo.
They have been keeping an eye on developments in Sweden from afar – their families are fine and working as normal, helping the couple to get back home.
“Even though they have more cases than here, everything is open as normal,” Mr Krogh said.
“The do recommend closing and you can’t have bigger gatherings.”
But despite the comfort, they are sad to be leaving Australia.
“We planned to be here for about nine months,” Ms Rosman said.
The couple landed in Melbourne in late-January and toured as far north as the Sunshine Coast and across to Adelaide, before spending the past two or three weeks working locally, including grape picking in Hamilton before moving on to Drumborg.
On arrival in Australia they bought a van which they converted into a campervan.
They have paid to put the vehicle in a storage facility for a year.
“We plan to come back as soon as possible,” Mr Krogh said.
“Hopefully we will be back here (Drumborg) to pick grapes next year.”