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COVID testing queues line Wollongong's streets in post Christmas rush

A Woonona family worked out a way to beat the long queues outside the region's COVID testing tents - drive there in the middle of the night and camp out.

Jess Lowe and Dave Lee are planning to head to Queensland to take his three children back home after they spent Christmas in Wollongong.

Knowing they needed to get a test before crossing the border, the couple had driven around to testing centres on Boxing Day but found long queues of cars everywhere they went.

So Ms Lowe had the idea to take the family campervan out in the wee small hours of December 27 and park right in front of the testing tent at Fairy Meadow.

"That's the beauty of a campervan - I thought, you know what, if we can't really use it to go travelling and go on holidays then I'm going to use it to get a head start on the COVID line," Ms Lowe said.

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"I left home at around 2:30 and I was the first one to line up which was nice. I jumped in the back and had a sleep until Dave brought the kids over around 6:30 and we managed to get our test done straight away.

"We weren't particularly keen on sitting in a line with three kids under 10 for six hours.

"We've had to sit in the line previously with the kids and it wasn't overly enjoyable, so you've just got to do what you've got to do really."

But they did get a scare just before the testing centre was due to open.

With no nurses in the tent, two men in hi-vis clothing were walking along the line of cars in the queue saying the drive-through testing centre wasn't going to open until Wednesday.

"We just showed him on our phones where it said it was open at Monday at 7:30," she said.

"We told him 'we've been here since 2:30 we're getting our test today, please'. Then a young nurse turned up she must have only been 17, she was there on her own and was getting everything ready.

"When we pulled up into the tent we said 'thank you so much, we really appreciate you and everything you're doing'. We wanted to let her know how thankful we were because she still had a long day ahead of her with a lot of probably frustrated people."

By the time they had been tested and left, Ms Lowe said the line of cars "just went on and on and on " with many likely to be waiting there for around six hours.

To cross the border into Queensland, the family will have to show negative test results within 72 hours before they arrive. But with regular delays in people receiving test results, Ms Lowe said the campervan might get another workout.

"We're concerned that we're not going to get our tests back in time, so we're going to have to stick the swag on the roof of the back of the van and hope that we get the test back quick enough, she said.

"Otherwise we will be all bunkering in at the border while we're waiting for the test results to come through. You don't really know what to plan for you just have to wing it."

This story How one family beat the COVID queue first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.