This digital photograph depicts neighbours Sue and Jon Torwick (front) and Jane and Tony Curran (back) during the State of Victoria's first COVID-19 lockdowns and associated 'stay at home' restrictions. The neighbours are pictured having a socially distant Friday night drink from across the street.

Sue and Jon Torwick had been living in their Northcote home for 17 years when this photograph was taken, and were both semi-retired. They had hoped that 2020 would provide some opportunities for domestic and international travel, but when the COVID-19 pandemic intensified in March 2020, they were forced to cancel their travel plans. Sue and Jon had attended a family funeral in New Zealand in mid-March and subsequently been required to self-isolate for two weeks upon returning home. 'With the additional two weeks of isolation prior to the lockdown, the hardest thing has not been seeing our children and grandchildren', reflected Sue in June 2020, 'we miss the hugs and the conversations with the older ones, and we also feel we have missed so much of the development of the younger ones, who change so quickly.'

Despite missing their family, Sue and Jon were grateful for the company of their local neighbours Jane and Tony Curran. 'Tony and Jane were the first neighbours we met when we moved in 17 years ago, and have been constant support and amusement ever since. Catching up for Friday night drinks and debriefing while socially distancing has been a joy. Luckily our street is narrow and we can sit on either side of the road, together, apart.'

Jane and Tony Curran had been living in Northcote for 28 years when this photograph was taken. Jane, a private school teacher, and Tony, a public servant, both began working remotely as soon as lockdowns were introduced. Although there were many challenges along the way, both Jane and Tony reflected in October 2020 that they were grateful for their local community and particularly the company of their neighbours: 'It is a privilege to be here and we are so fortunate to have neighbours like Jon and Sue. I mean, why go on asylum for mental relief when you have a neighbour like Jon?!'

This photograph was taken by Melbourne-based photographer Julie Ewing as part of her 'Across the Fence' photographic series. This series documents life in Melbourne's Darebin region during the first COVID-19 lockdowns that began in Victoria on 14 March 2020. Julie photographed 120 households and 60 businesses during March to May 2020, and this digital photograph is one of 24 images that were acquired into Museum Victoria's Collecting the Curve Collection. These photographs provide a lasting reminder of how neighbourhoods and households in Melbourne were impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic, as well as the unique ways through which individuals and communities adapted their lives and found new routines, traditions and ways of supporting one another.

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Digital TIFF file

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