The 14 days of quarantine

Senior copywriter Robert Cartlidge is excitedly moving from Sydney to Brisbane to be part of the nextThursday team. But before he makes it into the office, there’s this little thing called hotel quarantine he has to get through! Here’s his journey.


One of my reasons for coming up to Brisbane was to experience more new.

I believe new experiences are the Lego pieces of brilliant ideas, and the more pieces you have to play with, the more wonderful creations you can smash together.

So, I try to act like a collector of these invaluable building blocks. And like any geeky collector, I’d do anything to get my hands on the most limited, rare, or Snyder-cut of them all.

Which means, Brisbane and all its newness (to me) it is!

Some of the new things I’m looking forward to are: forgetting how to use winter clothes, being in a state that has more than zero roller coasters, and people you just met not caring which school you went to. 

I’m known to collect actual Lego, too.


After an almost two-month wait since applying to enter Brisbane, I’m finally here!

Well, almost, as I’m in the Gold Coast for hotel quarantine. But that’s a lot more Brisbane than my parents’ home in Chatswood, where I’ve been couch surfing awaiting the call-up.

My last post was all about being hungry for new experiences. And, well, I got them! However – they were NOT the kind I was craving.

The first was getting a flat tyre on the way to the airport and almost missing the plane. 

The second was at the border, where a police officer told me there was an error in my application and that I’d be sent back to Sydney immediately. (Luckily, I sorted this out thanks to everything I learned watching Border Security: Australia’s Front Line.) The third was discovering coffee, not sand, would be covering all my clothes, after a poorly packed jar of Nescafé detonated in my suitcase. (I counted way more than the proclaimed 43 beans in one trouser pocket alone.)

Yet like all happenings I didn’t think I wanted anything to do with at the time, I’m already grateful they’re part of my collection of experiences to play around with and build from whenever I fancy. And “misadventures” usually make for better stories anyway!

So, two weeks locked in a hotel room? Bring it on! And I’ll do my best to share all the new, interesting, or weird I experience along the way.

Ominous welcome


I got lucky with my government-issued hotel room.

As compared with hotel rooms at my usual travel budget (I rather put my money towards outside activities), this place is massive and doesn’t come with a laminated sign pleading with me not to clean my work boots using the towels.

Very posh!

It’s also on the corner, so it has a wraparound balcony which I feel will be vital for sanity maintenance.

My home for two weeks

I can see one beach, three tennis courts, eight pools and nine holes of putt-putt golf.

On the downside, I can also see people enjoying all these things. With the main problem being, I’m not one of them! And I LOVE putt-putt golf.

Oh well – one day!

(Or rather, make that twelve days.)


Dinner has evolved into entertainment despite not coming with much of a show.

With every meal, a handbell rings, the delivery person runs away faster than light, then I mask up and open my door to find a brown paper bag full of hope.

It’s all very exciting!

But some things are way less exciting than they sound. Like “continental breakfast”. It’s a brilliant bit of copywriting as what you really get is the less sweet-sounding “slice of toast and an apple popper”.

Continental breakfast

Day four

I’m also lucky that my room comes with a selection of chairs. As I’m rarely successful sitting down to relax at the end of the day, let alone starting my day sitting down and never getting back up.

So, to keep things interesting, I’ve taken maximum advantage of all the chairs provided by placing them in different locations around the room, so I can change up my view and trick my brain into thinking I’m getting about.

I have my morning chair, which is alongside the right window and gets a great view of the beach. Then I move to my afternoon chair, which is in front of the left side window and gets a great look at everything happening on the shopping strip below. Then when the sun goes down, I let rip and sit outside in my evening chair, which allows me to take in both views – AT THE SAME TIME!

Nothing is too good for me in here.

My morning chair
My afternoon chair
My evening chair
day five

Today I’ve decided to be a tourist. (A super lazy one who doesn’t actually go anywhere. But, still, a tourist!)

As I’ve never been to Broadbeach, so I really wanted to get a better look around from more angles than the one I’m fixed at 24/7.

So, I fired up Google Maps and went for a virtual walk via Street View.

I discovered there were way more restaurants underneath me that I couldn’t see (again, slightly frustrating to be so close yet so far), along with a beautiful carousel from the 1800s.

However, I should have been able to see this carousel from my balcony…

This gave me some panic that I’d finally cracked, yet instead of seeing things, I was not seeing things. To my relief (yet also disappointment as I love vintage amusement park rides), the carousel was scrapped a few years back and Google Maps have been slow to update.

So that means I’m not mad… yet!

Good news.

Give up your secrets!
My private “beach”.
DAY six

Today I discovered a spa makes for a rather poor beach.

Tired of looking at crystal clear waves rolling in on one the loveliest beaches I’ve ever seen, I thought maybe I could have the “great value” version of a day at the beach by splashing about in the spa.

(And yes, I’m super lucky to have a spa bath in my cell.)

Yet, I may have made some mistakes. Firstly, the ocean is never 40 degrees. So instead of burning on the sand, I was cooking in the water.

Second was clothing. Wearing shorts and a rashie into the bath felt weird. And the sun cream created a disturbing oil slick on the surface.

The third was forgetting I was pretending to be at the beach and washing my hair. That totally ruined the illusion, so I was done.

Maybe I’ll have more luck recreating a putt-putt course?

day seven

Concentration is becoming a serious problem.

day eight

Today I had a real-life human come and visit me. In fact, two of them! It was surreal seeing people up close again, rather than at a distance from my balcony. And even better, these humans spoke to me. What a treat!

What wasn’t a treat was having one of them shove a stick up my nose and wind it around.

But that was a price I was more than happy to pay for some human contact. Even humans that looked more like Star Trek props with all their PPE gear.

It’s odd how much you miss the day-to-day interactions with people that you usually don’t give a second thought to, or worse – feel like are an annoyance.

From this day forth, I promise to never order McDonald’s from the automated touch screen ever again. I will walk up to that counter and make my order with a side of proper chat!

(I may even go so far as to stop crossing the road when I see someone I went to school with!)

My direct line to the outside world. And a Mega Drive controller.
My companion lorikeets.
day nine 

Today was even more rewarding than yesterday, as instead of humans visiting me from my door to stick things up my nose, I had rainbow lorikeets visit me from my balcony window to share a meal!

These two little guys have possibly made my entire stay:

It’s amazing how something like this can temporarily melt away all the anxiety of being stuck inside a room for nine days. As for a few minutes, I couldn’t think of anything except just how great these birds were.

And luckily, this morning’s breakfast wasn’t continental, so I had some fruit to try to feed them with.

The next bit totally took away all thoughts of self, as they ate it out of my hands!

This was peak quarantining, and I may write a letter to Queensland Health suggesting everybody stuck in here gets a companion lorikeet or two.

(I’m already trying to work out how to ask them if they want to come to Brisbane with me.)

day ten

Here’s some of the ways I’ve thought I could try to escape today:

Through this locked door. Maybe I’m in an Escape Room and I can solve a puzzle that will let me out?

Crawling out from this vent, just like John McClane in my favourite Christmas documentary, Die Hard.

And finally, I was thinking I could order an airplane escape slide from eBay to hang over my balcony. This gets bonus points for also getting me straight into the pool below.

day eleven

My physical health has taken a bit of a self-imposed hit in here.

It’s odd, as I have all the time in the world, but I want to spend NONE of that time doing exercise. 

While on the outside, it was one of my favourite things to do. Actually, I lie, it was one of my favourite things to do only AFTER I had done it. But I was always motivated to get started despite the inconvenience of pain.

But in here, I’ve found it a struggle to get down on the floor, push myself off the floor, and repeat.

It seems the more time you’re given to do very little, the less you want to do.

So being busy is another thing I’ll try to appreciate when I’m released. As being busy seems to be the best motivation I can get to keep the momentum up to move on to the next thing.

In the meantime, I’ll drop and give myself 20 push-ups. As after eleven days, I’ve definitively discovered they will not push themselves.

My designated push-up area.
day twelve

It’s starting to feel like I’m really going to get to leave this room one day.

It’s funny how quickly this locked-in lifestyle becomes the norm, to the point of feeling like this is how things have always been.

So, as I prepare for my exit in several days, I’m wondering how I can get a refresher on how to do the whole freedom thing? As I’m a bit concerned that I’ve forgotten how to human.

I’m guessing I could practice over the phone with hotel reception. And try to squeeze in some conversation practice between asking them for more coffee packets, milk and garbage bags? 

(In fact, another thing you experience in here is just how much rubbish you accumulate in a day. Often, I have two full bags full of trash at the end of the day. Which makes me think if I put myself out in a third, nobody would think the wiser, and I’d make an early exit!)

Another thing that is going to take some getting used to is the change in perspective. As for the past twelve days, I’ve been seeing everything from up high. So, it’s going to be unusual going back to street level. Guessing I could train for that transition by doing some more walking tours on Street View?

I might ask the lorikeets what they think.

Have I always eaten like this? (Probably, I do like schnitzels.)
day thirteen

Today the fire alarm carefully decided to go off at around 3 am.

This was somewhat confusing at first, and I thought maybe it was some sort of COVID-19 alarm and that a trace amount of the virus was detected in the building.

But nope, after calling reception, I learned that somebody somehow managed to burn some toast in a hotel that doesn’t provide rooms with toasters.

My best guess is they left an iron unattended on a slice of bread?

This inspired me to attempt my own hotel rations hack and create a quarantine cocktail to help me get through this early start.

The ingredients were: Instant coffee granules. Milo. Instant coffee granules. Instant coffee granules. Hot chocolate powder.

I then added hot water and stirred with an English breakfast teabag.

After my first sip I realised I should have just ironed some bread. (Maybe it needed more instant coffee?)

My daily coffee rations.
day fourteen

The day I wasn’t sure would ever come is here.

I’m finally getting set free!

Soon I’ll be one of those amazing people I’ve been jealously watching from my balcony, with the superpower of being able to stroll, browse and even swim.

I’m hoping from this experience I will appreciate the simple yet important stuff like the above a whole lot more, and not take it for granted.

As I didn’t miss the high-end, big-ticket life stuff you imagine makes life worth living.

Nope, I simply missed being able to spontaneously roam wherever my feet want to take me.

So luckily, in a few minutes, I’ll have a whole new city to explore.

And I’m grateful for every square inch.

So, for any quarantine or copywriting help, give me a call between now and nextThursday.

All ready for my police escort out of here!


AKA 'Conceptor' @nextThursday