As checkpoints come down, here are our most epic border-crossing fails

As outlaws of the wild frontier go, police on pandemic patrol in the past nine months have come across a few who, shall we say, didn’t really think things through.

Nov 30, 2020, updated Nov 30, 2020
Queensland police have uncovered some extraordinary, and extraordinarily stupid, efforts to cheat border patrols. (Photo: AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Queensland police have uncovered some extraordinary, and extraordinarily stupid, efforts to cheat border patrols. (Photo: AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Since Queensland’s border checkpoints were installed in March, most people have followed the rules.

But with more than a million vehicles checked it’s no surprise police confronted a few individuals who tried to circumvent restrictions in spite of the very serious potential threat to public health.

From separated lovers to fishing trips gone wrong, some made bizarre attempts to enter the state without a valid pass.

With restrictions set to ease and checkpoints to disappear at 1:00am on Tuesday, here’s a look back at the lengths some have gone to.

No way, stowaway

A Gold Coast man’s fishing trip to the Tweed this month ended up costing him thousands of dollars when he attempted to re-enter Queensland by boat — which was on a trailer, behind a car.

Police said the stowaway was discovered under a tarpaulin in the boat when they noticed the car towing the boat was unregistered.

The hapless hide-and-seek attempt earned the man a $4003 fine for breaching the Chief Health Officer’s direction and he also copped a $400 traffic infringement notice for not wearing a seatbelt.

To top it off, Queensland Police said the man was from the Gold Coast, meaning he would have been free to come and go if he’d just done the border pass paperwork.

Who’s the bunny now?

A 39-year-old man with a female companion dressed in a pink bunny “onesie” were filmed by a fixed security camera this month at a border roadblock on Tomewin Mountain Road, in the Currumbin Valley behind the Gold Coast.

Police say the couple, faces hidden by hoodies but with the car’s registration clear in high-def vision, drove into Queensland after the man used a wheel brace to break into the road block’s control box and lower the barrier.

Chief Superintendent Mark Wheeler described the incident as “incredibly frustrating”.

“This person is actually from the Gold Coast and by the look of it he was returning home and we will allege that he’s caused damage to that property to make his way into Queensland rather than using one of the established vehicle checkpoints,” he said

The man is due in court on December 9 to face a wilful damage charge.

Lover’s stroll — into trouble

In September, a Brisbane man drove almost 1000km to Wollongong to try and rekindle a relationship with a former lover.

Trying to return to Queensland, the 51-year-old was stopped at the border and told by police he could only re-enter by air and would then have to spend 14 days in quarantine.

So the man left his car, found a place to walk undetected over the border and organised a tow truck to bring his car through the checkpoint at Coolangatta.

The plan backfired when an eagle-eyed police officer did a registration check on the towed car as it crossed the border. Officers followed the tow truck to Gold Coast suburb Tugun, where they found the man waiting for his vehicle.

He was given a $4003 infringement notice and ordered into 14-day hotel quarantine at a cost to himself of $2800.

Bring a plate

One man thought a little too highly of his calligraphy skills when he tried to pass through a border checkpoint on the Gold Coast Highway with hand-designed number plates on a stolen ute on the first day border restrictions were implemented.

The New South Wales man also had drugs, cash and a gel blaster that requires a weapons licence, police say.

Cabin fever

Body camera footage captured the moment a police officer found a Victorian woman hiding in a semi-trailer cabin during a border blitz of freight vehicles entering Queensland in October.

“G’day,” said the not-very-surprised officer as he discovered the woman tucked behind the driver’s seat. “Didn’t think anyone could fit in there.”

The 51-year-old woman and the 61-year-old male driver received $4003 fines each after the vehicle was stopped at Dumaresq Crossing Road, Texas, about 300km southwest of Brisbane.

They were refused entry to the state.

Tale of a fateful trip

In one of the more high profile border cases, a luxury yacht skipper who sailed well-heeled passengers from Victoria to the Gold Coast in August was fined $4,500 for lying to border authorities.

Greg Numa, 64, pleaded guilty in Southport Magistrates Court to providing false and misleading statements to an emergency officer after sailing the 30-metre superyacht Lady Pamela north with passengers including millionaire construction magnate Mark Simonds and his family, and Hannah Fox, eldest daughter of Linfox trucking boss Peter Fox.

The court heard that, as they approached Queensland, the skipper insisted in an 83-email exchange with Marine Safety Queensland that nobody had left the yacht on its way up the coast.

But an investigation and media footage revealed the boat stopped in several ports considered coronavirus hotspots during the two-week journey and Numa, Simonds, his wife and others were seen disembarking.

Leaving the court, the skipper thanked Queensland authorities who “do an amazing job dealing with people like myself who stepped over the line”.

The passengers and crew were allowed to stay in Queensland after enforced quarantine.

Well hello, buddy

Police stationed on the border at Wallangarra, in Queensland’s Southern Downs, about 20km north of Tenterfield, were taken aback when they found a man hiding in the rear of a small white hatchback entering from NSW in July.

“Oh, ha ha ha ha ha! Well hello, buddy. Stay where you are, mate,” invites the officer as the individual, aware the gig’s up, thrusts an arm from a pile of clothing and baggage.

Two women, aged 28 and 29, were also in the car.

All three were refused entry to Queensland.

Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi could see the funny side before getting serious.

“Our beer is better, without a doubt, and so are our football players so I can see why people want to come here,” he said.

“But this is not about an individual, this is about our nation.

“We need to do what is right for all of us.”

Additional reporting: Peter Gunders, ABC Southern Queensland

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