After several years of living with COVID-19, life is starting to return to normal on the Victorian-New South Wales border and the Albury-Wodonga Theatre Company is getting ready to put on two shows.

With the virus lingering, sharing lifts to and from rehearsals isn’t ideal but according to Wodonga mother Kathryn Dalton, it’s a risk that rising petrol prices are forcing families to take.

“What the parents have done is we’ve got together and we’ve got a roster and we’re now carpooling, so those young actors that are in both performances will be at one rehearsal and then we all carpool them over to the next rehearsal later in the day,” she said.

In Melbourne, 19-year-old university student Annabel Lee has been separated from her family, who live three hours north in Echuca, first by the pandemic and now by petrol prices.

“I did think that this year I’d be able to see them a bit more and they’d be able to come down and see me,” she said.

Annabel Lee (far left) would like to see her family in Echuca more but petrol prices are making trips home too expensive.(Supplied: Annabel Lee)

“[But] it’s a whole tank of petrol to go home and back … and that’s a cost I don’t really have the money for at the moment being a uni student and working casually.”

While in Wyalkatchem, two-and-a-half hours north-east of Perth, Sarah O’Callaghan’s child is going without the orthodontist.

“We can’t afford the price of fuel to get to and from the orthodontic appointments in Perth,” she said.

“[But] I’ve had to tell my child, just up-front and honest, that we can’t afford it right now and we’ve had to put it on hold temporarily.”

Sarah O’Callaghan is having to deny her child orthodontic treatment in Perth because she can’t afford petrol for the 400-kilometre round trip.(ABC News: Eliza Borrello)

Ms O’Callaghan said she often heard media stories advising consumers to “shop around” for petrol but in Wyalkatchem, it’s not an option.

“We can’t just jump in the car, five minutes down the road to the next servo, the nearest major town to us is Northam, which is 102 kilometres away.”

The federal government has indicated Tuesday’s federal budget will include a one-off payment to help low- and middle-income Australians cope with the increasing cost of living.

Extracted in full from: Rising fuel price drives families’ return to carpooling despite COVID risks – ABC News