Stranded travellers in the South West are seeking compassion and understanding from locals who are concerned the remaining tourist population will put further pressure on limited resources.
As of midnight on Tuesday, police, Defence Force, Department of Fire and Emergency Services and State Emergency Services personnel have been stationed at the two major highways entering the South West to stop all non-essential traffic in or out.
Last week the Times reported locals were frustrated with holidaymakers travelling to the region to bunker down during the COVID-19 crisis.
However, several travellers in the region have hit back explaining they have nowhere else to go.
Levi Karstensen and Anouk Janke were working on a vineyard for several months and said they had endured discrimination from the community because they could not return to Germany.
The young couple have secured emergency accommodation for their campervan at Four Seasons Holiday Park.
“When we were grocery shopping people have been telling us to leave and saying we have the virus because we are internationals, but we have been here for four months,” Mr Karstensen said.
“You can apply to get back to Germany but the project is not yet in Australia. I understand the worries but we are trying to self-isolate.”
“We have nowhere to go and no work,” Ms Janke said. “I’m very nervous but I think we will be OK as long as we can stay here.”
Busselton Mayor Grant Henley said the City would support stranded travellers and he hoped the community and other local governments would follow the City’s lead.
“Backpackers are part of our community. They are here working to support our local economy and while we do urge them to return home if possible, the reality is that for many this is just not possible,” he said.
“The last thing we want is a community of backpackers sleeping rough across the district because we didn’t respond to their situation practically and with compassion.
“We’re better than that.”
Retirees Graeme and Judith Jesse have been travelling around Australia for eight years and said if caravan parks were closed there was no other option and they would run out of water. “We’re prepared to sit it out like everyone has to. We’re no different to any other citizen of Australia,” Mr Jesse said.
Caves Caravan Park manger Jamie Brady said the park was open to stranded travellers requiring emergency accommodation and two families who were travelling around Australia were now stranded at the park.
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