It's Only Been 30 Days!
I'm pleading with regional destinations: Please explain to your residents that there are still essential travellers in RVs on your roads and they do not deserve abuse.
Many of them are mature-age folks in caravans and motorhomes who are still trying to get home because they've been forced into 14-day isolation each time they've crossed a state border. They're trying their best, practising social distancing, not travelling for leisure and are abiding by all laws.
Remember, it was only on 22 March - less than a month ago - that the Prime Minister stopped non-essential travel. The people in regional places who are still commenting or complaining about errant travellers going through their towns seem to feel that it was much longer ago than just four short weeks.
And I was fascinated to learn that there's actually a scientific reason for this.
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston wanted to understand how we perceive time depending on what we are experiencing. In one experiment, neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman and his team had volunteers dive backward off a 50-metre drop with no ropes attached into a special net that broke their fall. It was deliberately scary. The result: The volunteers estimated their own fall lasted about a third longer than dives they saw other volunteers take.
The team discovered that when someone is frightened their amygdala (the primal part of the brain that controls fight or flight instincts) becomes more active, creating more memories than usual. And the more memories you have of a frightening episode, such as learning that coronavirus is spreading throughout Australia or being told to go into lockdown for what could be months, results in a stretched-time perception.
So people everywhere - regional residents and RV travellers included - perceive this COVID-19 episode as going on for longer than it actually has been because it is scary.
And if that's their reality, then of course folks will trend to think everyone should have had enough time to make it back to their own home. Sadly, the reality is different.
It's just like Jim Bishop, former US author and journalist, said: "It is difficult to live in the present, ridiculous to live in the future and impossible to live in the past. Nothing is as far away as one minute ago".
By the way, there is in fact a second group of older Australians who are also still on the move. They're helping our Aussie farmers out of a sticky situation by picking, packing and planting the fruit and vegetables that are usually handled by international backpackers.
Please help me to spread understanding and kindness.
Author: Liz Rivers, one of the Awards' Directors, has travelled Australia in a motorhome over the past two years and is in contact with many long-haul drive tourists. While she is now home thanks to COVID-19, Liz experienced verbal attacks while travelling back to Queensland at the start of the outbreak and the abuse to which she refers in this article relates to a first-hand account from the past 24 hours from other travellers.