‘Adopting’ backpackers in Albany a positive experience for all involved

June 2nd, 2020 | | backpacker

An Albany couple have opened their home — and their hearts — to a pair of backpackers left stranded by the coronavirus pandemic.

Key points:

  • Many backpackers chose to stay or were stranded in WA due to travel restrictions
  • Some local governments asked backpackers to leave amid fears they could spread the virus
  • The Facebook group Adopt a Backpacker connects hosts with backpackers in need of accommodation

The closure of Western Australia’s regional borders in April was a harsh blow for a significant number of backpackers in the state.

Some local governments even went as far as urging them to go home amid fears they could spread the virus.

It was an attitude that could not be further from how Albany’s Trish and Crispin Travers felt.

“We were in Italy before COVID started and we got out in time,” Mr Travers said.

“But you’d like to think if we got stuck there the Italian people might have looked after us and I’m sure they would have.”

Social media opens door to home from home

The Facebook group Adopt a Backpacker WA connected the Travers with backpackers Marilena Gjini and Lucas Gonzalez.

A few messages and an introductory phone call later, and the Travers’ new housemates moved into their caravan in the garden.

In the week since then the new living arrangement has worked well for everyone.

They share food costs and take turns cooking, with plenty of sightseeing thrown in for good measure.

Ms Gjini, an Italian national, said it was a big relief to be offered somewhere to stay during uncertain times.

“You can see they [the Travers] are really open-minded and they want to help,” she said.

“It was really good for us; we were lucky actually.”

While they were in no rush to leave their new home in Albany, Ms Gjini said the plan was to head north eventually.

Regional borders relaxation welcome news

From Friday May 29 all of WA’s regional borders were reopened, apart from the Commonwealth Biosecurity Areas of the Kimberley, East Pilbara and Ngaanyatarrak.

Ms Gjini said she was pleased when this happened sooner than she had expected.

“We thought it would be in late June,” she said.

“It was good news when we found out.”

Despite some perceived animosity towards backpackers earlier in the pandemic, Ms Gjini said she felt welcome in every community in WA.

“There were a lot of difficult situations, but for me the situation was more than fine … I didn’t feel any pressure,” she said.

Mrs Travers said they’d be happy to adopt more backpackers if needed.

“You’d hope that if you were in that situation overseas that you would get help as well,” she said.

“I think the best help you can get is from local people because they can give you the local knowledge.”

Source: ABC

Sourced by Mike Barrow