The Rural Doctors Association has welcomed the announcement from the federal government of the roll-out of an extra 500,000 doses of Pfizer, to be distributed on a per capita basis. I hope the bush gets its fair share.
I recently returned from seven glorious weeks travelling and playing golf in outback Queensland.
I could not get over how many caravans were on the road and how many people are affected by COVID lockdowns interstate.
There seemed to be a belief 'COVID's not in my back yard', therefore life will continue as usual.
Finding a QR check-in code in some towns was hard. Mask-wearing was unheard of or poorly executed, and social distancing did not exist.
But that is a 'head in the sand attitude'. Just look at regional and remote NSW and Victoria and the impact of the Delta strain on those communities and health services.
Restrictions on travel will be lifted at some point, and it is a matter of when, not if, the Delta strain gets into outback Queensland. This will put pressure on the hospitals and medical workforce.
The doctor and nurse shortages in rural Queensland worsen as teams travel interstate to treat COVID cases and then quarantine on return.
Cross-border travel restrictions and a lack of locums add to the pressure and the need for overseas doctors.
It must be challenging in the country towns where tourists and grey nomads put a few dollars into the community but could also be COVID time-bombs.
I experienced a few people who clearly resented the outsiders, especially if they saw an interstate number plate.
These people were few and far between, and the trip was truly memorable.
Outback Queensland is fantastic. I loved the country, the light, the magnificent sunsets, camping under the stars, and hiking in some fabulous national parks. The dinosaur visitor centres, the silo murals and the sculpture trails are outstanding.
I liked towns where you could get a coffee on a Sunday and felt welcome at the Visitor Information Centre.
But most of all, I loved talking to farmers and young people who were optimistic about the opportunities on offer in the bush, asking "why not".
Let's keep outback Queensland healthy, book a COVID jab, get tested if you feel crook and tell the grey nomads to do the same!
- Robin McConchie, former rural reporter, Brisbane