When crossing borders within Australia is a big deal

Crossing the border into Queensland from NSW

I remember being stopped at the Queensland border when I was a child.

It happened when we went into Queensland, from my grandparent’s home in Murwillumbah, in northern NSW. Just a hop skip and a jump down the road it seemed.

In those days it was a check for fruit to stop the spread of fruit fly, rather than a pandemic, and years before that it was a tick issue as detailed in the article below.

The border today is largely invisible, but there was a time when large barbed-wire fences marked a very clear line. Daily News historian Di Millar explained the fences were erected to quarantine a pest from the north.

“They were there to stop the cattle tick getting from Queensland to NSW,” Mrs Millar said. “They found them in North Queensland and they thought by putting the tick border it would stop them.

“Then they put the no-man’s land section and it had a bridge across it and it was supposed to be a buffer zone.”

She said the highly visible border was not popular with residents and did not even stop the spread of ticks. “It had overhead bridges and gates at various places along it and it was an inconvenience and an eyesore.

barb wires barbed wire blur border
Photo by NEOSiAM 2020 on Pexels.com

Enter 2020 and COVID-19!

Apparently the border was closed for several months in early 1919 to attempt to stop the spread of the Spanish Flu from NSW – now that sounds familiar doesn’t it?

But apart from those instances, I don’t think the border between NSW and Queensland has been closed since becoming an official border back in 1865.

Crossing the border

Due to family health issues we were champing at the bit to get into Queensland to be with our daughter, her husband and our baby grandson. The Queensland border was closed on March 26 2020 and reopened on 10 July 2020 (except to those who had been in Victoria in the past 14 days).

Only those who were classed as exempt were able to cross during the closure. We didn’t fit the exempt category so were on tenterhooks waiting to hear when the border would be opened, at one stage it wasn’t going to be until September!

To be allowed entry after July 10, we had to complete an on-line application form, answering questions about not having COVID-19 symptoms, not having been in Victoria in recent weeks and giving our contact details. It was an immediate response via email and we had to display the pass on our vehicle’s windscreen to be allowed entry into Queensland. I think G stands for ‘general’.

Border crossing
Border crossing entry form

Apparently over 400000 applications were downloaded in just a few days! Some people, like the Grey Nomads, and caravaners, were keen to get travelling again to warmer climates during the winter months, but some were like us and had family issues to help out with.

The north of the country is always popular over winter and with school holidays on as well, there were lots of people wanting to get away. Travel has definitely been put on hold for everyone in recent months. Unfortunately it isn’t the best time to plan to travel when a pandemic is raging.

We deliberately chose to drive the 1000kms in virtually one full day, sharing the driving and having supplies with us so we didn’t have to stop too much along the way. This meant we weren’t in contact with anyone or anything and we had our hand sanitiser in a handy location at all times.

Our first stop was my mother in northern NSW, which gave us the opportunity to catch up with her, the first time in months, and wait until the border was open with its initial first wave of people rushing to cross into Queensland.

We left it a few days after the border officially reopened at 12 noon on Friday 10 July, as the traffic had been reported as very heavy. We had no trouble and only slowed down for a few minutes before being waved through the checkpoint. Some vehicles were pulled over for checking and many have been denied entry for various reasons.

It really felt like we were going into another country in some ways, like crossing borders in Europe, instead of being in Australia! But alas, there was no stamp in my passport 😦

With COVID cases spreading in the state of Victoria and starting to multiply in NSW, it is becoming a real worry again. We were up here in Queensland in March and left just before the borders were closed. The feeling is similar to that, a few months on and it’s scary that some people aren’t taking it seriously even now.

There has been lots written about the impact of the border closures to the economy of the various states of Australia. I must say the Premier of Queensland stayed firm in her desire to keep her state safe from the pandemic but they were also missing their usual winter tourists and the economic benefits.

So we are now in Queensland for a few weeks, spending time with our daughter and her family, helping out with babysitting duties, medical appointments and enjoying the warmer weather while riding our bikes along the waterfront in the spare moments and keeping our distance at all times when out and about. We are very low key travellers at the moment.

sunset views in Queensland
We could sail off into the sunset together!

So yes at the moment border crossings here are a big deal!

To read more about border closures within Australia – you can click here. There are still many borders that you physically have to stop at and be checked to see if you are carrying fruit and vegetables, (against the law in some cases), and now COVID-19 has added another aspect of border crossings.

There are lots of things going on around the world at the moment, but for me at the moment, it’s all about family.

Life is never dull, that’s for sure!

So how are you getting along where you are?

Take care and stay well.

Deb xx

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46 Replies to “When crossing borders within Australia is a big deal”

  1. I’m happy to hear you made it to your daughter’s! Will you have difficulty crossing the border again when you return home? Do you need to apply again or is the application for round trip?
    Things are crazy again in California and the U.S. …..our governor closed malls, hair salons, bars, indoor dining, etc etc again last week. Parents and teachers are concerned about school opening. Districts are fielding concerns and facing difficult decisions. Lots of controversy brewing. Our governor just announced he would be making a major announcement Friday. I image he’ll override the individual districts and counties and make a firm decision one way or another for the entire state regarding schools. Either way people will be angry.
    Luckily my family lives close enough to do drive by visits!
    I worry about members of my family who are essential workers. My son especially who is the director of mental health for a local state prison where Covid cases are high among the inmates.
    Wish we could fast forward an entire year! Be safe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks very much for reading and commenting Carol. It should be fine to cross the border on the way home, unless things go pear shaped that is!
      I have been following the spread of the pandemic in your area and it sounds awful. I’m so glad your family live nearby but I get your worry for essential workers, it’s much the same here too. I agree, let’s end this year! Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you finally made it to Queensland. I still haven’t visited my family in NSW, the long wait at the border puts me off. You were lucky, I hear it’s usually a long wait. Enjoy your family time, regards Christina

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That must have felt so odd. There are a few agricultural stops between states here in the US but not many. I haven’t traveled outside of my state since COVID so I don’t know what the situation is. Since a next door state, Arizona, is spiking, I have a feeling it will be a while until I will want to go there.

    Completely different subject: I noticed that you wrote “champing at the bit” and I wanted to thank you. In the US, most people say “chomping” at the bit, which drives me crazy. I don’t know why the saying was changed (just here or elsewhere too, I wonder) but I do a happy dance when I see it said – or written – correctly. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Janis, it was all a bit weird but we made it and are now enjoying our time with family!

      I loved your champing at the bit comment. These types of things are so interesting, how sayings have changed. I have always said ‘champing’ and am glad to hear you approve 🙂 Love that you did a happy dance too!


    1. Yes Chris, it’s so good to be here and help out in whatever way we can, even by just being around. I’m loving it. It’s also much warmer than at home which is delightful.


  4. I was wondering how they were managing to control the state border in Australia. Things are cautiously opening up again here but the economy has taken a big hit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I can imagine the issues are similar to here Anne. We’re having another spike in numbers across the states and we are all very concerned again. Hopefully your opening up works well.


  5. I’m so pleased you have managed to get to be with your family and hope that your return trip across the border is as straightforward when you come home. It really is a most exceptional time isn’t it? Things are gradually reopening here and wearing face coverings in shops is about to become mandatory – I’ve taken to wearing mine already as I figure that the risk of catching or transmitting the virus is no different today than it will be next week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think we are close to having to wear masks here too Deb! It’s great being here to help out and be with our daughter and grandson. I’m loving it!


  6. So glad to hear you were able to get to your daughter’s. Sending very best wishes for good test results. I’m sure you bring great comfort to your daughter being there.
    Here in Canada some areas have developed a travel bubble. The Maritime provinces which have very few cases have done so. Inter-provincial travel is discouraged. the border with the US has been closed since March to non essential travel. We are well at home. My Mom lives in another province and I haven’t seen her since January. She is the most vulnerable and I struggle with protecting her vs her loneliness. Challenging times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sue, it’s great to be here to help out and offer support that only parents can do!! I’m glad to hear you’re doing well and that your mum is ok but it must be hard not seeing her since January! I understand your struggle and agree, it’s very challenging times for everyone. Take care xx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a strange experience for you both, especially as it’s probably seemed like there were no borders at all for years. It must feel odd but it’s a good thing isn’t it? Only essential travel between states is necessary. Things are pretty open now in England and we’ve travelled across country to a new housesit in Brighton with no real issues. Everything slowly opening but masks required everywhere and social distancing still advised. Feeling better but we’ll see how it goes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to hear you are in the move Jonno and masks are becoming more prevalent here too. Things have gone a bit downhill in the past few weeks with an increase in infections again in places so it’s a watch and see scenario. It really was quite weird crossing the border I must admit!!


  8. We are fortunate here in South Australia that we have relative freedom within the state but it’s interesting for me to read about what’s involved in a border crossing. One of my sons lives in metropolitan Victoria and I don’t think we’ll be able to see him again for quite some time…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No maybe don’t expect a visit anytime soon! It’s really distressing in lots of ways but completely understandable. I hope we can get to visit other states soon but only when it’s deemed safe to do so. Thanks for stopping by!


  9. I read this morning about a guy who was found trying to get through in a car boot. Did you see the meme going around last week with angry crocs and the words “Queensland border patrol – Anastacia’s Angels”?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. So glad that you were granted the needed permissions and that you are able to be with your daughter, and that you were able to take your bicycles. Drink it all in and be well. Michele p,s. Shared this on my FB page. #MLSTL


  11. WA is holding tight to its border closures – but then I read in the n/paper about thousands who’ve been flying in from Victoria and overseas in the last few weeks. I have no understanding how that is closing the borders, which is probably why I’m not a politician! Glad you got to see the family – I know when they opened the zones here I was beyond delighted to see our kids and grandgirls again – family is beyond important isn’t it? #MLSTL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes WA is going strong Leanne. I hope it stays that way despite those flying in! I’m glad you got to see your family too, it’s the best feeling isn’t it?


  12. Deb I’m so happy for you that you have been able to cross the border and finally see your family. It must have been so exciting for you and a big relief. Being from Victoria it’s going to be a long while until we are allowed into Qld. I’m desperate to see my son and my grandchildren. I remember the fruit fly inspections as a child, crossing from Victoria into NDW. I have memories of being parked on the side of the road and everyone having to consume any left over fruit before we were stopped. Great post Deb

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel for you Jennifer, it’s an awful situation all round. Yes I have similar memories, having to eat fruit or throw it out which was a big no-no in those days. Thanks for your comment and take care x


  13. Enjoy Queensland and I’m glad you made it. I remember talk of checking for fruit etc when I was a kid but I found the border crossing to be a huge anticlimax when I finally crossed borders as an adult. Of course things are different now. I gather people are getting arrested for hiding in boots etc…

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow! This is unbelievable. I didn’t know other countries were doing this. I have to say, as an American, I would find this an infringement of privacy and personal liberty. I know they talked about closing the border to NY at the beginning of the pandemic, but the governor strongly objected so the president didn’t do it. It’s interesting to see how every country is handling this virus.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment Amy. We see it as a way of protecting the less vulnerable so to me it’s not been too much of an imposition at all. Yes it is very interesting to see how other countries are coping with this pandemic but I think it has a long way to go before it’s eradicated unfortunately.


  15. I’m glad you have been able to re-connect with family. My daughters live close by but we still limit visits and social distance when we get together. I happy quite happy to listen to experts who inform us, among other things, to limit travel. I am thankful the Canadian-American border remains closed. I am stunned that people believe their personal right to travel surpasses the healthy and safety of others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Helen, I’m so happy to be here! Yes there are many stories of people unable to take direction for everyone’s sake – I think every country has their fair share of these people unfortunately.


  16. Interesting times! British Columbia, Canada was doing so well that we went into Phase 3 in late June, allowing restaurants, hotels, shops and bars to open up. The plan is currently backfiring and we’re doubling daily infection rates thanks to large indoor parties by large groups of young people. The health authorities are trying to put the brakes on things, but we’ll see how it goes. I had a mini vacation the last week of June to BC’s interior before things got crazy. Glad I went when I did. My daughter’s baby is due next week, but COVID restrictions will prevent us from going to the hospital, which is fine. Better to be safe than sorry.


    1. Oh Debra, I hope the baby arrives safely and it won’t be too long until you can visit them all! I agree it’s better to be safe than sorry. I hear you on the opening too soon, it’s happening here as well and numbers are rising again, although we have done pretty well here so far. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi Deb I grew up in Sydney and we never went on holidays so I didn’t visit Queensland until I was 22. I had no idea that there had been border restrictions in the past. Fascinating read and a history lesson so thank you. I’m so pleased you could get a pass and visit Eliza and your gorgeous grandson plus also see your Mum and me!!! Enjoy your family time and take care. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment and for sharing Sue 🙂 It was something that stuck in my memory from all those years ago and I was struck by the timing. It’s been so good to be able to get up here and see Eliza and Patrick and catching up with you was a bonus!


  18. We moved from SA to QLD just 3 days shy of the closures. My Mum came up not long after and had to fill out paperwork etc. My grandfather was dying and she was really hoping to get back to see him in his final days. Once here, she was told to quarantine and that she couldn’t leave our property. It took several phone calls and hours on the phone to try and figure out how to get an exemption to see her dad. No one knew what was happening. Finally, she was given ‘permission’ to go to the hospital but by that stage he had been sedated for comfort and soon after he passed away. Here’s hoping these restrictions are lifted soon, everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

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