The low-down to Darwin’s quarantine, the how-tos, what to bring, who to call, and what to expect during your stay at Howard Springs Facility.
For any Aussies who looking to go back home and are curious to know more about Howard Spring Quarantine Facility. You’ve come to the right place.
Departed from London, Heathrow on a 16 hr repatriation flight that got delayed for another dreadful 2 hours, our plane finally landed to a hot 30*c tip of Australia, Darwin. Guests were taken onto a bus to HSQF (15 minutes from Darwin airport). You are greeted with nurses that are clothed head to toe in safety garments and are double face masked. To this day, I don’t know how they do it in this heat…
We receive our room keys and get told where we’ll be staying, the staff are friendly and helpful. The room is air-conditioned and you are welcomed to a bag of feel-good home treats! You start to reminisce and munch on all the Shapes, Smiths chips, and 2 minute Maggi cup noodles all at once.
From the image above you can see what the room will look like behind the Shapes packet; you’ve got a single bed, a mounted TV in front, a desk to work on, a chair, and a mini-fridge to store your delivered food at the end of a hard day of work.
They also supply alternative milk options and cater to different dietary requirements.
I’m vegan and the food has been great, we’ve been spoilt with dessert with every dinner.
So be prepared!
What to bring
If you’re a Duracell bunny like myself be aware that you’re stuck to your 7x5m veranda and the odd occasion to walk to the laundry mat.
The best thing is to bring some exercise equipment whether that’s a couple of dumbbells, resistance bands, yoga mat. I brought my skipping rope and I’m very thankful for it.
Thank goodness for the internet! A laptop or some sort of entertainment such as books/kindle, iPad, drawing pad whatever tickles your fancy will help you get through the excruciating 2 weeks of quarantine.
Pack those summer clothes! It gets pretty darn hot here, so pack your singlets, shorts and some thongs (the Aussie kind).
Everyone here is for a reason, to be back with family, an emergency, a wedding or to be back home. I hadn’t been back home for 2 years due to COVID cancelling my flight back in January and this time around being back home due to a family incident. Sometimes you have to accept the challenge that you have to embrace before you see the good side of life, that’s family for me.
What to expect
You receive 3 meals a day including snacks, one meal too many if you tell me. I’m trying to make a routine out of it. If you’re a person who eats 2 meals or less — try to find a routine with your meals. The trick for me was to eat breakfast and fruit for lunch and the night before’s dinner on the night.
If you’re a foodie or a beast you do have the freedom to order online with IGA and Coles. Coles is $50 minimum and delivery fees for IGA range from $4 to $12 and may vary depending on the time of day.
Kmart is also another source of additional consumerism goodies, if you’re interested in some weights or in need of a yoga mat, they’re available to deliver to your doorstep.
You can forget about your morning alarm because staff are knocking at your door at 830am — 9 am dressed in protective gear to check your temperature every day.
They also do a swab test on your 2nd, 7th and 12th day in the facility. On your flight home depending on the state may also make you do a day 17 test.
No alcohol is allowed. Sorry lads and lasses but these are banned! You’re going to have to stick to your H2O and juice boxes.
Cops patrol the area every couple of hours so make sure you have your mask on. I’ve been told off a couple of times on my veranda to which I’ve either been drinking or eating. (What do they want me to do?! Eat my mask too?!) However, my neighbours in similar situations haven’t been told off they were kids. Apparently, they don’t need to wear one because adults are the only super spreaders 🤷🏻♀️
You have made my stay somewhat enjoyable to miserable.
On a lighter note here are all the photos of all the vegan food you’ll receive:
There is onsite reception and a well-being team to check in that everything is all good in the hood. They are very helpful and empathetic — thank you, team!
If you’re travelling to another state, circumstances may change, it’s best to book this during your stay. You will then need to provide your itinerary to the facility so they are aware of your departure times their email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have flights booked you need to email your itinerary and if your flight is before 2pm you need early exit approval. No flights earlier then 10:00 am on the departure day are allowed unless in extreme circumstances beyond our control.
Contacts whilst you’re here:
Qantas domestic flights 13 13 13
Darwin Facility Reception 08 8995 5960
The fee for the two-week stay costs $2,500 per person or $5,000 for a family. You can request financial help if you can’t pay the full amount check the state website as each state has different contact details.
Overall, the facility is descent. I am grateful for the veranda to sit out on to enjoy the sunrise and sunset every day, and we’re not confined to a solitary hotel room with a single-window.
The Aussie wildlife reminds you that you’re truly home, the Aussie accents is soothing and warming to hear, thanks to the wonderful and interesting neighbours that meet and forced to reckon with 😜 I would’ve lost my marbles if it weren’t for the conversations, online “pub” quiz, bedtime yoga and laughing about the geckos🦎
Welcome Home Aussies 🦘