As coronavirus cases rise, ‘outsiders’ face hostility

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Victorians in South Australia
Border country ... Some Victorians have reportedly been made to feel very unwelcome in South Australia.

When the pandemic first led to the imposition of travel restrictions back in March, many grey nomads reported being made to feel extremely unwelcome in some smaller communities … and it seems it doesn’t take much for this suspicion of ‘outsiders’ to re-emerge.

As the number of cases in Victoria spikes, there are reports that travellers from the state who have legitimately crossed into South Australian towns are being subjected to abuse and incidences of vandalism.

A new online pre-approval process for incoming visitors has been introduced, but some residents say it has led to a lot of confusion.

Expectant mother Elise Dunwell — who lives in the small Victorian town of Nelson near the SA border — has been crossing into SA to see her doctor.

“Our essential services, our shopping and our medical services and all that are usually in Mount Gambier,” she told the ABC. “There have been a couple of people in Nelson who’ve been quite badly abused when they get into Mount Gambier to do their shopping by people who’ve seen them get out of a car with Victorian number plates on it.”

Another resident, Sally, from SA’s South East, told ABC Radio Adelaide she was also aware of antagonisms between locals from both sides of the border.

“We have cross-border community — we have friends who live only moments across the border, who shop locally in Mount Gambier or Naracoorte or other communities,” she said. “They’re being abused, their cars are being vandalised because they’ve got Victorian number plates … it is disgraceful, we are citizens of one country, we don’t live our lives within state boundaries.”

A plan to allow unrestricted travel into South Australia by July 20 was scrapped recently due to the surge in Covid-19 cases in Melbourne. However, the SA Government is reportedly now considering a partial travel bubble involving regional Victoria.

Darryl Lewis, who runs the pub in Murrayville about 25 kilometres from the SA border, have had to obtain exemption permits to enter SA because their nearest fuel station is at Pinnaroo.

He told the ABC that people in the Victorian Mallee were ‘a bit wary of who is coming’ from Melbourne, but most believed they should be able to enter South Australia because western Victoria remains free of Covid-19.

“We haven’t had any cases even close to us and I think it’s pretty unfair on us, because we’ve done the right thing,” he said. “We’ve served our time. We’re doing the right thing.”

As restrictions ease in most areas of the country, grey nomads and other travellers are actively being encouraged to get out into regional areas to help support struggling local economies and tourism businesses.  If nothing else, the surge of cases in Victoria – and the reaction to it – has served as a reminder to all Australians of how volatile the situation is, and how quickly the travel landscape can change.

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5 Responses to As coronavirus cases rise, ‘outsiders’ face hostility

  1. Why don’t folks GROW up, we have a legal right to shop, medical attention and so on, what happened to Living in Australia & as one country, my view is If I catch them Police will be called and the full force of the law should be applied as I have a legal right as a Cross border community member to be in SA, funny how they still want our money, we had no case for 13 weeks as of today. GROW UP.

  2. Blame all of our state Premiers for this garbage, this turned into a case for all these Premiers to display their egotistical qualities of “look how powerful I have now become.” It’s a simple case of most Premiers and you only have to look at Victoria’s Premier Chairman Dan Andrews comments 2 weeks or so ago about “who would want to go to SA.” and unfortunately for him didn’t Karma bite him fairly and squarely on the a**e. Let’s all hope that this virus clears up somewhat in Australia to allow free travel within all states sooner rather than later, because until this happens these megalomaniac Premiers will continue to want to show us all who’s the boss.

  3. Actually Vic is prob doing more testing than any other state so of course there is going to be more..if the other states like qld..nsw..and Sa did the same they would prob find they have a lot more than they think they have….and it is a virus nobody can help it if they catch it …just like a cold …people are being stupid and selfish…

  4. Seeing this is something involving the whole of Australia… WHY was it not controlled by the Federal govt. With the states told what to do and how to do it. Would certainly reduce the confusion. any breakouts then just do as is happening in Victoria right now. Testing could be similar to voting then a more accurate result would found. Agreement with Jean regards testing results.
    How this has happened has certainly created mass division in a country that is prided on being united.

  5. I certainly don’t have that problem as I’m the only crazy caravanner who left Queensland and drove down to Victoria as soon as they announced they were opening back up to non self-contained caravans on June 22nd!
    Has no idea that the situation would deteriorate so rapidly whilst I was in transit! No turning back (or getting out) now! Needless to say I’ve had no problems from locals with QLD plates on my car, just Lots of curious questions! Saw hundreds of caravans heading north on the Newell but has the road to myself on the southerly side!
    I’ve not been in the declared “hot spots” and am bunkered down for the next month out of Melbourne and trying to keep up with a situation that continues to change daily!

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