Horsham nurse Lizzy Moxham has been finding ways to stay close to her boyfriend Sam Gahan in Brisbane despite being separated by more than 1700 kilometres and a closed border.
The 24-year-old is originally from Ipswich, about 31 kilometres from Brisbane in Queensland.
She moved interstate last year for a job opportunity in nursing at the Wimmera Health Care Group.
"I didn't even know where Horsham was when I got the job," she said. "I'd been a nurse for four years already, so I did a little bit of extra training and moved down here to do it full-time.
"It was crazy because I'd moved from quite a big city where I have quite a lot of stuff available to me like resources to the absolute opposite. It's been such an eye-opener."
Miss Moxham said initially the isolation of adjusting to regional life and the pressures of a new job were made easier knowing she could just drive to Melbourne to fly back to her family and boyfriend.
On April 3 the Queensland government closed its borders to non-residents, allowing entry only to "exempt persons" who can apply for a border pass if they provide critical services or need to visit on compassionate grounds.
"That's what makes it so difficult," she said. "Now I feel like I am so far away and I can't actually get home where my support network is.
"You can call them but you obviously can't go home."
Miss Moxham said her love language was quality time, so she was glad her boyfriend of more than three years always made an effort to see her regularly during their long-distance relationship.
"(Mr Gahan) has a job with a professional soccer team," she said. "He does statistics and analytics for the Brisbane Roar.
"He'd come down here when he had breaks in the season and visit for a while so made it a little bit easier knowing I had something to look forward to. We have kind of only spent maybe a month or six weeks apart.
"I guess now I don't when I'll be able to go home, or when he'll be able to come here. It's just so sad."
Miss Moxham said Mr Gahan was actually due to fly out from Brisbane to visit her for three weeks on the day the Queensland government announced it would close the state borders.
"I mean he still obviously would have been able to come here but he probably wouldn't have been able to get home and if he did he would have to take time off work to self-isolate," she said.
"Or him being here would be putting him at risk because I'm dealing with sick patients all the time in the emergency department. So the risk doesn't really weigh up the positive unfortunately.
"But it's so hard because I'm homesick already and that's a coping mechanism for both of us to be able to see each other. Not being able to see each other puts a bit of a strain on communication, which makes a massive deficit on the relationship."
We talk a lot still and he sends me flowers and buys me little presents on the internet to get delivered to my door- Wimmera Health Care Group nurse Lizzy Moxham
Miss Moxham said the couple, who met on Tinder, had a trip planned to visit the Great Ocean Road. Instead she has put the holiday and her leave on hold to continue nursing at Horsham's Wimmera Base Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic, while Mr Gahan supports her work from afar.
"We FaceTime every day, often multiple times a day," she said. "We talk a lot still and he sends me flowers and buys me little presents on the internet to get delivered to my door.
"We kind of do that for each other. We also do things like getting (food delivered) to each other if one of us is working late so we know that the other one has one of their favourite meals waiting for them.
"We still try and do those things we would do for each other, we just do it by distance."
Miss Moxham said she looked forward to spending quality time with her family and her boyfriend when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
"(I want to) have a big family dinner with my favourite foods - home-cooked pizzas, carbonara and chocolate cake - and just play games," she said. "Just being able to hug (Mr Gahan) and see him in person, that would be really nice.
"You just realise how much being around people just changes how you feel and the impact it has on your mental health. When people who are regularly there aren't you realise how much certain people mean to you and how much get out of them being around in your life."
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