Things to do, watch, and learn in self-isolation or quarantine

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by Sarah Halfpenny

It’s been a month since the rumbles about the severity of COVID-19 began to grow louder, but in those few weeks the concept of time has become fluid. Days merge into each other as we navigate this new world of self-isolation or quarantine that has now been mandated for all Australians.

Thankfully we live in an era where technology means we can stay connected and inspired in a vast number of ways, and there are always traditional hobbies and activities to help pass the time while we’re confined to our homes.

Here are a few ideas to keep you occupied:

Things to do:

  • Get some fresh air and have a picnic in your own back yard complete with picnic basket and rug.
  • Plant some seeds in a planter box or pot – it’s the perfect time for carrots, lettuce, onions and most herbs. Find a handy gardening calendar here.
  • Take a photograph a day of a particular subject – it might be yourself or a tree in the garden – then look back on the collection of images in a few months’ time and see how things have changed.
  • Have an online trivia night with friends via Zoom – allocate one person per week as the host and everyone else as the players. There are some great questions to be found here
  • Read books shortlisted for the Stella Prize, an annual Australian literary award that champions female Australian authors – the announcement of the 2020 winner will also be broadcast live at 8pm (AEST) on Tuesday 14 April!
  • Consult Google maps and take a virtual outing to an area you’ve always wanted to visit. Drop pins in places to create a tour that you can take in real life once restrictions are lifted.
  • Puzzles are a hot item at the moment – support an Australian-owned store like Hobbyco but you’d better be quick as they sell out fast!
  • Remember making models as a kid – well you can still do it now and Metro Hobbies have a huge range to choose from that can be shipped to your door for hours of therapeutic concentration.
  • Stay fit with a 10-minute chair workout designed specifically for seniors
  • Every time you think of something you’d like to do but can’t due to restrictions, write it on a piece of paper and put it in a jar. This then becomes your ‘things to do’ list once the COVID-19 pandemic is over!
  • Hand make birthday and Christmas cards in advance and prepare lists of gift ideas so you’re all set for big occasions once they can be celebrated again.

Things to watch:

–      Check out the live webcams of zoos across the country for your daily dose of cuteness. Check out the live stream from Taronga Zoo and Zoos Victoria (which covers Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary).

  • Tune in weekly to the Sydney Opera House website for their new digital program that brings their stages to your sofa.
  • The Melbourne International Comedy Festival would normally have been on right now but instead they’ve taken a 2-hour special online for everyone to watch for free!
  • Melbourne Symphony Orchestra invites music lovers to their pre-recorded concerts, showing free on their YouTube channel on Thursday nights.
  • Every Friday night a new musical from Andrew Lloyd Webber will be released online to watch for free for 48-hours – get in quick if you love his work!
  • If the Bard is more your style, watch free productions from Shakespeare’s Globe from the renowned Globe Theatre on their YouTube channel.
  • Pass some time looking at a fascinating collection of over 70 old photos of celebrities (including Harrison Ford, Kirk Douglas, Mia Farrow and Clint Eastwood) in their homes on IMDB. While you’re on the website, delve into all things cinematic and create your own lists of movies to watch or favourite movies.
  • The National Film Board of Canada have collected 66 Oscar-nominated and award-winning short films and put them on their YouTube channel for everyone to enjoy.
  • Head to Ozflix, the movie-streaming platform like no other because it features all-Australian content! So if there’s an Aussie classic you want to watch, chances are you’ll find it there and be supporting Australian filmmakers in the process.

 Things to learn:

  • Try your hand at preserving fruit and vegetables – Nourished Kitchen and Fresh Preserving have some great tips and recipes.
  • Australian legend Maggie Beer is posting one recipe a day with her ‘Cooking With Maggie’ series – the 15-minute videos can be found on her Facebook
  • TAFE NSW are currently offering 21 fee-free online short courses for NSW residents including computing skills.

–      Pottery is a skill for all ages, and now it’s coming to your kitchen table thanks to Clay Sydney who will send you a block of clay via courier with an instruction pack and tools, then host special webinar classes.

  • Learn some new moves with the Sydney Dance Company’s Virtual Studio – for $28 a week you can take unlimited classes in all different styles of dance such as ballet, jazz and tap, or try a one-off lesson for $12 to see if you like it.
  • The Australian Ballet is offering free bite-sized lessons via their Instagram account to keep you active and supple.
  • Drop-by Drawing classes are being held virtually thanks to the National Gallery of Victoria and are led by professional artists. All you need to participate is a writing utensil, paper and something around the house to sketch.
  • There’s plenty of art knowledge to be gained if you visit the website Google Arts and Culture including being able to explore the collections from museums and galleries around the world!


  1. The idea of trivia questions are really very good. During quarantine we can groom our self by taking different quiz questions related to history, sports, science and all your favorite niche. I found a useful website http://triviaquestions4u.com/ which contain too many trivia questions

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