Shock border closure sparks 13-hour New Year journey
MAKING salads and setting up for a barbecue in his Lismore family home, Reid Gough had very different plans to spend his New Year's Eve than a remote hotel room - alone.
The 25-year-old is just one of the people making a dash for his home-state after Victoria suddenly announced it would close the border to NSW from midnight tonight.
If he doesn't make it, Reid faces loosing his job, a precarious financial situation and more isolation even though he has not been near a coronavirus hotspot area.
After suffering through Melbourne's lockdown - it was a doubly special two-week holiday with his parents on the Northern Rivers, as he hadn't been home for Christmas in two years.
Mother Lisa Gough, a Lismore local of more than 30 years, said the family had been keeping a close eye on the COVID situation, cautious about the border closing.
She just didn't expect it to happen within a day.
Instead of bringing in the New Year as he had planned, Reid threw his things in the car and prepared for the more than 13 hour drive to try and make it back to Victoria before the border closed.
It's a journey, the Northcote man is still undergoing at the time of writing.
It's been hardly a month since the Victorian and NSW border opened but Acting Premier Jacinta Allan announced late on New Year's Eve, Victoria would shut the border and those returning outside of the allocated window would need to self-isolate.
Ms Gough said Reid was one of about six of his old Lismore school friends from Trinity Catholic College who were trying to make the journey by car to get back to Victoria for work.
"We dropped everything," she said.
"We thought we were in a green zone because we were away from Greater Sydney and he had avoided the area driving.
"I worry about the frantic young people on the roads for these big drives, especially with the wet weather, so we are checking in all the time. He still has about five hours to go."
Ms Gough explained Reid had lost his job in COVID and had only just gained more employment after five months on Job Seeker.
But his new job would require him to leaving the house.
"So (if he doesn't make it) it looks like he might loose another job now, his boss is lovely but he needs people to work," Ms Gough said.
"Obviously (Reid) will need to figure out his financial situation but he is blessed he will still have somewhere to live and food to eat.
"His is another story in a big pond of stories … he joked it was a memorable New Year's Eve at least."