"Please don't enter our community - KEEP DRIVING HOME."
This sign on approach to a QLD town is not the only unwelcoming moment we've experienced this week.
In mid-March the warmth we'd always felt visiting towns for the Awards evaporated overnight as folks in country places started to become scared, fearing that travellers would accidentally take COVID-19 to them.
Now, the issue is re-emerging with vehemence.
The rising COVID-19 cases in Victoria has ignited new fear, and some people and towns are letting you know that they're feeling raw, vulnerable or scared.
Wilcannia Local Aboriginal Land Council chief executive, Jenny Thwaites, has expressed frustration at the number of visitors stopping in town despite signs erected by her community requesting them not to. She said it was understandable that travellers needed to stop for supplies "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." (ABC quote)
A couple of days ago we had about 20 children and adults 'chanting' at us to "go home" as they approached our motorhome when we stopped at a butcher in far northern Queensland.
We also had another local drive his ute between us and this mob in what was very appreciated protective behaviour.
And this demonstrates the problem - most communities are divided. Tourism operators, van parks and businesses that rely on grey nomad winter travellers are keen (if not desperate, at times) to see you.
What to do?
We're doing our best to show compassion, abide by local sentiment and we haven't stayed where we aren't wanted. Flexibility is now driving our decisions like never before.
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