Isolating Nambucca Heads family worried about making it home

The Freemans on their flight home to Brisbane. Image submitted

The Freemans on their flight home to Brisbane. Image submitted

Nambucca Heads local Geoff Freeman and his family are currently riding out the remaining days of their post-travel mandatory isolation in a friend's house in south west Brisbane.

The Freemans had been visiting family in Thailand, but cut their trip short by ten days after friends back home warned them the Australian Government was planning to close the nation's borders.

Geoff discovered their return flights had already been cancelled when Air Asia shut down most of its network.

But he managed to wrangle some flights for March 19 at nearly $1300 a pop, leaving a huge dent in his credit card.

Geoff, his wife, and their youngest son arrived in Brisbane Airport on the morning of March 20.

"As we came off the plane and walked to the immigration area we were stopped by people from Queensland Health," he said.

We had to sign a declaration agreeing to self-isolate for 14 days, and that there would be a $13,000 fine should we choose not to.

"We were given 24 hours to travel to the place where we were going to isolate by whatever means we chose."

But Geoff said no questions were asked about the family's health and noone took their temperature.

"It was just 'sign on the dotted line and hand in your form over there'," he said.

Geoff said the family made the decision not to return to the Nambucca Valley because they live with Geoff's elderly mother and brother, who has existing medical conditions.

Luckily a friend offered his empty house in Jimboomba up to the family, so the Freemans set up camp there, and Geoff's Brisbane-based daughter has been dropping off groceries on the driveway for them since.

"Apart from that we have had no contact from anyone to check if we are still here, or if we are ok," he said.

"Their accommodation is being paid for and they're getting three meals a day. They would have gotten the same message from Smartraveller we did and chose to ignore it.

These people are being rewarded for being irresponsible by not coming home when they were told to, yet we were just cut loose and told to fend for ourselves.

"We would have been stuck if not for my friend."

Still, Geoff is thankful he has a yard to walk around and a patio to sit in: "We are lucky, we'd definitely prefer the situation we're in now to being stuck in a hotel".

Geoff said the family has showed no symptoms since they started their self-isolation, although every random cough set off anxiety which they try to disguise with jokes to keep the mood light.

"It's always in the back of your mind - every sniffle," he said.

"But we're up to our tenth day so we think we're past the point of us coming down with it. We're just looking forward to getting out and getting home to Nambucca".

... which they can do from April 4.

But there's fear in the back of his mind that the path home might not be as easy as he hopes.

"We're worried they might not let us cross the border when the time comes," he said.

"I've contacted Queensland Health requesting some sort of letter to confirm we've completed our isolation so we can cross into NSW without problems, but I haven't received anything."

But as we've seen recently, a lot can change in four days.

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