HUNDREDS of grey nomads and Covid-weary travellers from southern states are relieved to have slipped into south west Queensland towns just time to beat the state’s second border closures.
The month-long window when borders were open to anyone, bar Victorians and those from certain Sydney hotspots, allowed travellers to enter the Sunshine state without issue.
Many of those taking inland routes flooded caravan parks and campsites from Goondiwindi and Cunnamulla and beyond, providing welcome business in the wider region’s accomodation and hospitality sectors.
Traveller Rick Williams, originally from Proserpine, has spent the past six years on the road and the past four interstate.
Mr Williams, his partner, and his rescue dog Penny, became stranded in Western Australia when the pandemic prompted authorities to impose travel restrictions from March.
He said he was part of a convoy of Queensland travellers who’ve gradually made the journey home, crossing the border just days before Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk shut the door a second time.
He’s staying at Dalby Tourist Park on while on his way to visit his elderly mother at Gympie.
“If you get stuck outside of your home state, and they start closing down caravan parks, you could be in trouble,” Mr Williams said.
“You don’t live locally so you can’t go home, what do you do?
“Some of those caravan parks out west were pretty busy. We stayed at Cunnamulla and there were a few Victorians who came in from NSW just so they didn’t get locked out again.”
Dalby Tourist Park owner John Stenzel said ongoing travel restrictions had been an overall blow to the business, but patronage had begun increasing in recent weeks.
“Victorians make up 60 to 70 percent of our client base at this time of year,” he said.
“The bushfires at the start of the year had already slowed things down a bit, so it’s been tough, but things are starting to pick up a bit now.
“There’s a lot of Queenslanders travelling around, a lot of people who are new to caravanning – they’ve just bought their first caravans or camper vans or motorhomes.”