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Learning to Love Your Own Backyard

As coronavirus restrictions continue around the globe, access to living space is shrinking as the world gets smaller and more localised. Whether it's your town, your suburb, or your property, people have been forced to lower their horizons and spend time in the confines of their own backyard. Current restrictions are designed to place limits on novel experiences and minimise social contacts in order to control COVID-19. While this situation is incredibly challenging on many levels, it also creates opportunities to explore the smaller spaces that lie just beyond your door.

Depending on where you live, the world is undeniably smaller and less connected in 2020. International travel is a distant memory and future dream, and interstate travel remains difficult or restricted for many. Instead of catching a flight to Rome or New York, we are being asked to take domestic holidays and enjoy the wonders of our own backyard. While a trans-Tasman bubble between Australia and New Zealand is still on the agenda, it's likely to be months away.

Despite recent outbreaks, Aussies and Kiwis are in a better position than most, with COVID-19 numbers relatively low and lots of great places to visit close to home. Domestic tourism is thriving in New Zealand, and hotel bookings on Australia's Gold Coast are at 75% capacity despite a complete lack of Victorians. According to recent research from comparison site Finder, up to 1.5 million Aussies are looking to change their holiday plans from Indonesia to New Zealand, with many others likely to holiday interstate or in regional areas close to home.

Along with domestic holidays, COVID-19 is helping people to enjoy their own backyard on a daily basis. Instead of visiting parks and shopping centres in far-flung suburbs, people are being asked to exercise and shop close to where they live. Perhaps you've discovered a nearby park that you'd never visited before, or perhaps a new cycle track to the shops, or maybe even a special quiet place to sit in the sun and watch the world go by. It doesn't matter where you reside in the world, people are being forced to stay still and take stock from the place they know as 'home'.

For many people, learning to love your own backyard has developed a very literal meaning. COVID-19 restrictions are not just about social distancing, they're also about physical isolation and staying home whenever possible. Learning to work and entertain yourself from the comfort of your abode is undeniably challenging, but it also gives you a chance to spend quality time with the people and spaces that define who you are. Whether you have a 5-bedroom house in the suburbs or an inner-city apartment, COVID-19 gives us all a unique opportunity to redefine what's important and fall back in love with our own backyard.