Australia's Got Talent alumni and Murray Bridge musician Chooka Parker was stuck on the NSW border during lockdown

LONG WAY FROM HOME: Murray Bridge musician, Chooka Parker was stuck at the NSW boarder homeless in the pandemic and unable to pass back into SA. Photo: Supplied.
LONG WAY FROM HOME: Murray Bridge musician, Chooka Parker was stuck at the NSW boarder homeless in the pandemic and unable to pass back into SA. Photo: Supplied.

A late 2020 trip to help out a family member in NSW turned into a several month long nightmare for one Murray Bridge musician.

Australia's Got Talent alumni Chooka Parker was stuck at the NSW border trying to get back home in SA during the pandemic.

As lockdowns got tighter, the light at the edge of the SA border got smaller. Parker's life was turned upside down.

"The family member I was helping left the area and I stayed there for around a year with a job," Parker said.

"Then restrictions began to get tighter and tighter. It all began to get a little hectic and I was then unable to work because of health. I became jobless, then COVID hit heavily again.

"Lockdown hit even harder and all I wanted was to be back with my family in SA."

It was an extremely stressful time for Parker and he did everything he could to keep his head above water.

"I was at the point where I couldn't pay any rent or bills," Parker said.

"I tried to organise a border travel pass to get back. At first it was a one to two week wait, then it became a three to four, then five to six and I couldn't keep living that way with no plans.

"I didn't know what to do. So I organised removalists, got my stuff out the house and I drove off into the sunset hoping I could cross the border.

"I got to Wentworth and was there for a bit. I went to the local papers and explained that I was homeless now.

"They picked up on the story, when the papers hit, I got an email from the police saying I was allowed to cross the border.

"It was an amazing feeling, I was really concerned it wasn't going to happen."

As Parker crossed the state border back in SA it was a weight lifted off his shoulders. He couldn't have done it without all the help from back home in Murray Bridge.

"It was a beautiful feeling crossing the border. It was a stressful situation," Parker said.

"My poor mum probably spoke to 100 politicians trying to make it happen.

"They even discussed it in parliament! I want to thank Adrian Pedrick's office also. They did a lot of work for me to help me across. They tried for ages.

"I just want to thank all the MPs from Murray Bridge who helped me."

Chooka doing what he does best, entertain the masses. Photo: Supplied.

Chooka doing what he does best, entertain the masses. Photo: Supplied.

Back home in SA, Parker is currently quarantining. He has plans for when that finishes and also wants to help people in similar situations he was recently in.

"Before I left I ran into two people who were in the same position I was in," Parker said.

"They were stuck on the border and they needed medical help. They haven't seen their family and have been trying to cross for five weeks.

"I organised for the local papers that helped me, to help them. I was told recently that they got a health exception and will be back in SA soon.

"There are a lot of other people stuck in similar situations and I'm hoping I can advocate for them."

On Sunday, October 10 at the Murray Bridge library from 2-3PM Parker will be doing what he's born to do, entertain.

"I can't wait to entertain the good people of Murray Bridge," Parker said.

"I have a new single called 'Stay in this Moment' on the radio and I can't wait for people to hear it and it's all about surviving the lockdown."

Stay up to date with Chooka on his music page at: www.facebook.com/ChookaParkerMusic.

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