First COVID-19 and then a stolen car, but Grandma sees light at the end of the tunnel

James Coleman 11 October 2021
Nissan Skyline R33

Billy’s car was stolen from the family’s driveway in the early house of Sunday morning. Photo: Billy McDermott.

Everything is now looking up for Grandma and the rest of her multi-generational family in Florey.

Tanya Austen has been sharing daily posts to the Canberra Notice Board Group on Facebook about her family’s two-week ordeal with COVID-19 and home quarantine. Things took a turn for the worse, however, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

But COVID-19 wasn’t to blame this time.

“I’m pretty sure I got woken up by a car taking off at 2:30 am on Sunday,” Tanya says. “But in my groggy state, I wasn’t really sure what I’d actually heard and went back to sleep.”


READ ALSO: Family life with COVID-19 goes on for Grandma, now sick herself


Come morning, she discovered her son’s pride and joy had been stolen. The car is a matte grey Nissan Skyline R33.

Tanya’s post for Day 12 of her ‘COVID diary’ recounted how this news, compounded by the fact the whole family is still in mandatory quarantine for several more days yet, was making for a tense atmosphere inside.

“He [Billy] has worked so hard for this car … it’s like his third child, and he can’t even leave the house to go and look for it. Instead, I am watching my boy pace the house like a caged animal.”

Billy McDermott

Billy and the girls. Photo: Billy McDermott.

Four-year-old Ellie Rose and three-year-old Dakota were the first of the family to contract COVID-19, bringing it home from their daycare in Queanbeyan west.

“Miss 4 and Miss 3 are a little bit sad because their favourite car seats were in Daddy’s car,” the post read.

“They spent the best part of yesterday’s sunshine cleaning it together with Daddy, getting it ready for their freedom day … So Grandma is making them chocolate mousse with strawberries to sweeten their smiles a little.”

News spread quickly on social media, and members of the public rallied to the family’s aid.

It was reportedly spotted doing burnouts in Moncrief during the day on Sunday, and someone out on a walk then claimed to have seen it parked in a private driveway.

“Billy saw a photo and he was pretty certain it was the car, but the frustration levels just went from zero to a hundred because he couldn’t go and do anything about it.”

Car under a tree

The car has been confirmed found by the police. Photo: Screenshot.

Tanya says they have now received confirmation from the police to say that the car has been found.

It was in a driveway with a park bench placed behind it in an attempt to hide the rear number plate.

“For everyone who helped to find her, thank you so so much, we owe you all a mega BBQ at our place when the quarantine is over,” she posted.

Across the board, Tanya says the whole family is excited to finally see light at the end of the tunnel.

“The girls have their exit dates and are out of home quarantine on Wednesday. Billy and his partner, Jackie, will be out by Friday. I’m out on the 18th.”

Jackie has pre-existing medical issues and was in the Canberra Hospital for 48 hours last week following a drop in her oxygen levels. She was sent home once the levels returned to normal.

Tanya’s partner, Peter, suffers from acute respiratory issues but has so far returned negative COVID-19 test results.

Provided Peter and their daughter, Emma, keep testing negative for COVID-19, the two of them will be free to go by 1 November.

“It is exciting to know that we’ll be able to get out of the fence line and do normal things again,” Tanya says.


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