A Wodonga family is among Victorians stuck in quarantine despite returning through rural NSW, and a new permit which doesn't require the same of others.
After being locked out of Queensland all year, unable to visit her brother who was diagnosed with cancer in November, Corissa Kilday and her family drove to Brisbane.
"We started travelling up on Christmas Day, went inland and avoided all red areas and arrived on Boxing Day," she said.
"On New Year's Eve, they'd done their press conference [Victoria] saying they were adding Wollongong to the list, I had some lunch with my brother and then my husband called me, saying 'What are we going to do?'
"It was absolutely impossible for us to have gotten back by midnight.
"Our options were quarantine at home or in a hotel; obviously home is going to be ideal.
"I've gone back through press releases and on the 31st when they made this announcement, there was no mention of a transit permit.
"On the 1st, they did mention a transit permit would become available - mentioning that on the 1st was too late for anyone in Queensland [who had left]."
The "transit permit" finalised at the weekend allows Victorians in Queensland and the ACT to pass through NSW, so long as they steer clear of others and hot spots, and do not stay overnight.
Those with transit permits are not required to quarantine for 14 days upon their return.
The DHHS website does not direct even those who have been to one of 26 COVID-19 exposure sites in Victoria to stay at home for the entire period - only until they test negative.
Mrs Kilday sought to know from the Coronavirus Hotline if they too could be released from self-isolation, given their negative results from Albury Wodonga Health came back on Tuesday.
"I got them [the hotline] on the sixth try, and the person wasn't sure and then read me some information ... you have to adhere to the permit you had at that time," she said.
"There's no cases anywhere near where we went. So why is it people can come down and not quarantine but we have to?
"We drove until Narrabri - there were a lot of Victorian licence plates in front of us - and the [motel] key was left for us, we had no contact."
Advice from DHHS differed again on Wednesday, with Mrs Kilday being told she wouldn't have been eligible for a transit permit anyway as they had been in NSW in the 14 days prior - to travel inland to get to Queensland.
"It's almost like it depends on who you get on the other line, and they won't put anything into writing either," she said.
"There's already been border checkpoints in place to learn from mistakes - there shouldn't be this much learning-on-the-go."
Accounts of Victorians driving long hours to make the New Year's Eve deadline have been well-documented and COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar said on Tuesday, "You stop twice on the way, you stop for 15 minutes".
He has since clarified his comments, urging safety.
The TAC recommends a break every two hours, as does RoadSafe North East executive officer John Weinert.
"A lot of people have been locked down, and going from no driving to all of a sudden six or eight hours is generating more fatigue," he said.
Mr Weinert said the government's 3.30pm announcement to return within less than nine hours did not give enough time.
"It concerned me straight away - as soon as I heard the recommendation was to get out and get home as quickly as you can," he said.
"I thought, 'You need to expand on that, you need to make sure people still take their breaks'."
The Wodonga Kilday family recognise others are stranded away from home and know the decision they made was the best one, with the knowledge they had.
With Mrs Kilday's husband Clint having started a new job - they timed their Queensland travel to account for his work's shut-down - and five-year-old Sophia starting school, they couldn't risk being stuck in a hotel.
They are hoping for common sense and will continue to push for a review.
"Sophia turned five yesterday in quarantine," Mrs Kilday said.
"She got a present dropped off to our door. The kids have already had so much they've had to give up ... to cut their holidays short ... and now to come back and not to see anyone either, that's really hard."
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