A Wagga father is overjoyed at the chance to reunite his family following the opening of the Queensland border to regional NSW.
Mat Shean has only seen his daughter Maddi once this year, as the 12-year-old lives in Brisbane with her mother.
The pair moved to Queensland from Young about 12 months ago, not long before coronavirus struck and separated the many Australian families who live across different states.
"She would come here to Wagga every school holidays ... but because of border restrictions I've only seen her once this year. It's pretty tough going," Mr Shean said.
Queensland's border relaxed at 1am on November 3 to allow visitors from NSW, except for those who live in any of Sydney's 32 local government areas.
"We're pretty excited. The first thing we were doing was looking at plane tickets and whatever else. Because their school terms are a little bit different in Queensland, I'll be trying to organise to get up there and get her and bring her back for a few weeks," Mr Shean said.
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Mr Shean lives in Wagga with his partner and their three-year-old daughter Ava, who has been desperately missing her big sister.
"Ava's pretty excited. The last time she got to see [Maddi] her initial reaction was just ... she didn't know whether to cry or to be happy," he said.
"She knows little bits and pieces. I haven't 100 per cent told her what's going on yet in case something turns pear-shaped."
Mr Shean said his family had been following news of the border restrictions closely since they were announced by Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in August, the second time her state was closed to NSW since the coronavirus pandemic began.
"[We were] obviously a bit disappointed, because it would restrict our access to seeing her. Me and her mum get on really well, but there's not much we can do if the borders are closed," Mr Shean said.
"We're just taking it as it comes."
Mr Shean said 2020 had been "a pretty crappy year" for lots of families who had been separated from their loved ones.
"It's been a nightmare, really. It's painful," he said.
"I'd say to make the most of it when you do have them. Because you never know what's coming up. You're never 100 per cent guaranteed to see them.
"We never really did take it for granted, but we'll certainly make the most of it. The things you do, you'll do it and enjoy."
He encouraged other local fathers to look out for their own mental health and to check on their mates.
"It's important to just to keep your chin up," he said.