Accused border dodgers visit hospital after COVID hotspot
A couple accused of breaching Queensland's tough border restrictions are a Perth couple who visited a hospital, a cafe, a restaurant and an elderly relative in the days after entering the state, the Courier-Mail can reveal.
Lawrence Gordon Petersen, 63, and Edith van Dommelen, 68, will each face the Richlands Magistrates Court this morning charged with fraud and failing to comply with border directions.
Police allege the couple falsely declared they had not travelled to a COVID-19 hotspot when they crossed the Goondiwindi border checkpoint with false declarations on July 27.
The couple, who hail from Perth, travel around the country house sitting and pet sitting, chronicling their adventures online and even posted about the elaborate permits and plans needed to legally travel between states.
On July 25, van Dommelen told her followers that their time pet sitting in Woodend, about 72km from Melbourne, was coming to an end.
"We'll miss the beauty and rustic Victorian countryside with all its numerous historic sites and places to sightsee but it's time to move on," she wrote.
Two days later, on July 27, van Dommelen shared the pair had made it to Queensland and detailed their elaborate "A, B and C" plans to get from Victoria to Queensland, discussing the permits and requirements needed for each.
"I did say watch this space.......well confirmation that Plan C to exit Victoria, has been successfully executed and completed," she wrote.
"Now relaxing in our Toowoomba accommodation for 2 night until the start of the first of 2 housepet sits that replaced SA Crystal Brook housepet sit that we should have started today."
Friends of the pair commented on the journey and one warned they should be tested for the coronavirus.
Days after arriving in Queensland, the pair were detained by police in Nanango and placed into mandatory quarantine for 14 days in the South Burnett area.
In the July 27 post, van Dommelen said "Plan A" had been to exit Victoria with a permit to enter South Australia but they would not have found out if they were successful until they got to the border which would have ended up being a "no go as today we received email that SA permit not granted."
She said their second plan was to exit Victoria with a NSW permit as seasonal workers as long as they self isolated for 14 days, which they had planned to do at Tuross Heads in NSW.
"However, on (July 21) at midnight that option was removed our permits voided not valid, needed to reapply under new application and new exemptions," she wrote.
"Plan C , successful, NSW permit as being "in transit by road rail or plane" with permit for the state transiting to, in our case Queensland," van Dommelen posted online.
She said they ensured they had Queensland house sits from July 28 to August 12 and August 13 to September 3.
"Thursday both QLD and NSW permits approved," she said
"Left Woodend Vic yesterday overnight at Wagga Wagga NSW and decided to do the long haul today to enter Qld today (sic)."
"Plan D was in place if all else failed, 41 day "housesit " / staying there for security for a motel (currently closed) whilst owners away in country VIC, near Beechworth."
She said to put the journey "in context": "Last 2 days travelled /drove from Woodend Vic to Toowoomba Qld, approxinately 1600kms, equivalent to driving from Amsterdam Netherlands to Zaragova Spain or Budapest Hungary to Athens Greece".
On July 30, van Dommelen posted they had taken the Nanango woman whose home and pets they had been booked to look after to a Brisbane hospital ahead of her "major" surgery.
"First day at our Nanango housepet sit, trip to Royal Brisbane Hospital taking our host...for her pre op appointment and check in preparation for her submission into hospital next Monday for major shoulder surgery," she wrote.
van Dommelen said she had also passed a South Burnett pool on the drive and intended to return the next day to swim laps.
She said after crossing the border, the pair stayed several nights in a hotel in the main street of Toowoomba and had eaten at a nearby cafe.
On July 29, she said on the way out of Toowoomba, the pair had also visited an elderly relative in her home.
The pair are due to face court this morning.