Thousands escape COVID-ravaged Sydney to make a new home on the Gold Coast

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Queensland’s Gold Coast has become a COVID-free safe haven for Sydneysiders looking to escape the long lockdown south of the border.

Shelly Horton and her husband Darren Robinson are just two of the latest interstate migrants who have made the Gold Coast their home — a move sped up by Sydney’s coronavirus restrictions.

Ms Horton says she feels extremely grateful to have been able to relocate.

“I really feel like I’ve struck gold,” Ms Horton said.

“I’ve had blowback from people in Sydney going, ‘You escaped!’ but I did do quarantine.”

The couple is one of the lucky ones who made it across the border before the Queensland government announced a two-week pause on any more quarantine arrivals.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state was being “loved to death”.

Ms Horton said she felt for the people who were only hours away from travelling to Queensland and were told they could no longer enter the state.

“I don’t think I would have coped at all,” Ms Horton said.

“The budget’s blown, the stress levels are off the Richter scale and then you’ve also still got the fear and the fact that you’re in a pandemic.

“You’re dealing with people’s lives, not just numbers in a quarantine hotel.

“It is more than I think any politician could imagine.”

Ms Horton was raised in Kingaroy in Queensland’s South Burnett and had already planned to move back to her home state before parts of New South Wales went into lockdown in late June.

NSW recorded 1,035 new cases on Saturday — a new daily high.

Authorities are racing to vaccinate the state before the highly infectious Delta strain spreads further.

The calm before the storm

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said interstate migration had grown to 18,000 people a year.

“I suspect that it will go well past 20,000 and in the next couple of years,” Mayor Tate said.

“It might even hit 25,000,”

He says he is embracing all newcomers and the benefits they will bring to the city.

“You can’t put up a rabbit fence so I’d rather put out a welcome mat,” Mayor Tate said.

“We’re happy to brain-drain Melbourne and Sydney and make the Gold Coast an even smarter place with the new people coming in.

“We’ve been loved by Australians for holidaying here and they will continue to love the way we live our life here on the Gold Coast.”

By Bern Young (Original ABC Article)