Virus spike sparks new angst in rural communities

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Grey nomads love to stop in Menindee
Many people in Menindee are concerned about travelling Victorians.

With a major spike in coronavirus cases in Victoria, some regional communities that had been ready to welcome back grey nomads and other travellers are now having second thoughts.

River towns in outback New South Wales are apparently being visited by masses of tourists, despite border closures.

The ABC reports that the Menindee Regional Tourist Association closed its information centre because of concern within the community about travelling Victorians and Covid-19.

Chairman Rob Gregory told the ABC that ‘hundreds’ of Victorians had been in the town in the last several weeks, and some long-term residents said they had never seen it so busy.

“It’s certainly been hectic,” he said. “I’ve been doing some work in the local supermarket just the last couple of days, and a lot of people are in and out of there getting their supplies.”

Mr Gregory said there was a 50-50 split in the community between those who wanted travellers to visit the town and those who wanted them to leave.

“We decided to close the Tourist Information Centre because of that angst,” he told the ABC. “We’ve got older members that volunteer in there, and they decided they didn’t want to put themselves at risk and others at risk.”

While most Victorians are now unable to cross into New South Wales unless they receive a border permit and self-isolate for 14 days, those already in the state have not been compelled to return home.

The owner of the cafe at Pooncarie, south of Menindee, Barbara Ellis said most of the visitors from Victoria were not in a rush to go back.

“We thought it would’ve dropped off almost instantly, but it hasn’t,” Ms Ellis said. “Our business is basically entirely grey nomads and travellers.”

In north western New South Wales, Wilcannia Local Aboriginal Land Council chief executive Jenny Thwaites told the ABC that people were still stopping in the town despite signs being put up asking them not to.

“People are going to (have to) stop to get fuel and to go to the toilet, and maybe go into the roadhouse and get something to eat,” Ms Thwaites said. “That’s accepted, but surely they don’t have to go and picnic in a park when it’s quite clear that we’re asking them not to do it.”

Last week a man in his 20s tested positive for coronavirus after towing his caravan from Melbourne to a Sydney caravan park. He had entered New South Wales a day before the border was closed.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard described the case as ‘troubling’, and strongly advised Victorians in New South Wales to return to their state.

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5 Responses to Virus spike sparks new angst in rural communities

  1. Very worrying. We have a van but staying home because things can change in a flash. Safer to be home

  2. This disease knows no social or age boundary’s. Anyone of any age can contract COVID 19. Stay home and stay safe because we don’t want to end up like some other country’s with hundreds of thousands, DEAD.
    We should thank our lucky stars that we have good governments in this country

  3. This is not a disease issue, I would suggest that these people have been in NSW for weeks, awaiting the QLD borders to open, then it hasn’t happened. As such they are staying in NSW so they DO NOT get locked down by returning home. Welcome them, accept their money they are spending and enjoy the visitation. It may be a long tome before the numbers of the past travel in these/your areas.

    • Sarco is spot on. We have been in NSW for weeks now and, yes we stayed in the council run park in Wilcannia, spent money in town and were advised that the majority of town folk did not share Ms Thwaites opinions and were actually taking down “her”signs.

  4. Could have traveled to NSW prior to border closure but was even though it was legal they prefered if we didnt come, government hotline.
    Decided to bush camp in regional Victoria. Wanted a couple of days in caravan park to top up water and power but got turned away. When we left, greater Melbourne wasn’t even in lockdown.

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