Open the gate! Open the gate! Western Australia is finally open to the world after two long years- a Covid induced isolation that had people calling it ’the hermit kingdom’ and even ’North Korea’. It has been one of the world’s longest Covid border closures.
Vaccinated international and Australian interstate travellers are welcome again without the need to quarantine. And Western Australians can begin travelling outside their State without the worry about whether they can get back in! I’ve got my itinerary ready for a trip to Japan – planned and booked pre-covid and cancelled just weeks before departure when WA’s hard border was introduced in April 2020. Waiting for Japan to open its border too!
The move to enforce a hard border by the Western Australian government succeeded in keeping the virus from spreading in our community until this last month when Omicron snuck in like Greeks in the Trojan horse.
So the hard border is now gone, and we have ‘re-joined’ the world. Until now, I’ve only needed to mask up on very few occasions with a few short lockdowns. Life generally has been pretty normal, as long as you weren’t too bothered about being locked within the State, separated from family and friends in the rest of Australia or overseas. Or, in my case, holding a ‘masked up’ wedding for a son in one of the few ‘lock-down’ weeks!
Video chats with interstate and overseas family and friends have become a regular part of my life in the last two years. “See you for coffee at 10 via video link”, I’d tell my interstate siblings. I’ve also enjoyed plenty of travel within WA, and I’ve discovered virtual travel/tours in Japan to sate my international wanderlust.
In truth, the last few years in Western Australia have been a little like living in Shangri-la. What’s been happening in the rest of the Covid world seemed surreal. Like watching a horror film from the warm comfort and safety of a movie house seat.
Now the border is open again to all comers interstate and from overseas. And Western Australians can begin travelling outside the State. The downside is a prediction of 10,000 cases a day within weeks. Already we are recording more than 4000 cases a day as I write this.
On the plus side (I do like to stay positive), Western Australia has a high vaccination rate through to booster shots, which is why our State government has judged it’s finally time to swing open the gates and invite the world back in. The double-dose vaccination rate in WA is at 94.60 per cent in people aged over 12, while 66 per cent of people over 16 are now triple-dosed.
A raft of new rules are in place to minimise the Covid risk with the border reopening – stricter social distancing, masks indoors and proof of vaccination in restaurants, cafes, theatres and other public venues. Masks in shops. So I’m dusting off the mask supplies I bought two years ago that rarely needed to be used until now.
The Western Australian Government is spending up big with a $12 million dollar marketing promotion to attract tourists again. They are even giving out coupons for free travel experiences at the airport!
So here we go. The Welcome Mat is out. Toughen up, baby. Reopening to the world was always inevitable. Already International flights have landed from Dubai, Singapore, Doha, Kuala Lumpur, and Auckland, bringing in 2,000 arrivals.
Is it worth visiting us with the current restrictions? Well, we enjoy magnificent scenery, varying landscapes, wildlife galore, plenty of fresh air and wide open spaces – WA is about the size of the whole of Western Europe! We are currently at the beginning of autumn – a pleasant time to visit the south of the State. And when winter begins, you’ll find warm tropical weather in the north of the State.
Is it worth leaving WA? For now, I’m not resuming travel outside of WA. I’m maintaining a ’steady as she goes, watch and wait’ stance. Hopefully, by the end of the year I might be packing my bags to head across the border and take up that planned 2020 Japan trip. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Hope my photos in this article gives you an idea of what you’ll find in Western Australia, and what I enjoy here.
COMING UP LATER THIS MONTH I’ll take you to a beautiful bay in Tasmania, Australia’s island State where I grew up: BREATHTAKING BAY OF FIRES
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