Coronavirus: Chaos at New South Wales, Victoria border as Aussies try to get home before closure

There was chaos at the border crossing between New South Wales and Victoria as it shut at midnight. 

Tens of thousands of cars were backed up throughout the night to get across in time. But health officials stand by the decision to shut it as case numbers spiked across Australia on Saturday. 

A glowing line of cars stretched endlessly down the highway, snaking down side roads and sitting idle in the darkness. Everyone was losing patience as the deadline loomed closer.  

The first day of the New Year was spent by many anxiously trying to cross the Victorian border before midnight. 

The closure was a snap decision announced late on New Year's Eve, forcing holiday-makers from all over New South Wales to drive hours to get home. It was made longer by a rule they had to take the long way. 

"We're not allowed to drive the red zone, not even by the highway, we were told the virus could get in through the air vents of the car," said one motorist.

The Ballenger family snuck through - just.

"[There] just wasn't enough notice," said the father, while the daughter said: "[It was] scary, a lot of cars going past us really fast".

From Saturday, everyone else is being told "you must quarantine for 14 days at home regardless of your results".

Despite the chaos, the traffic jams and the dramatic start to the year, Victoria's government stands by its decision, saying it warned everyone it could happen.  

"The deteriorating position in New South Wales was of significant concern and that the public health advice was likely to change very quickly in a rapidly changing public health environment," said Martin Foley, the Victorian Health Minister.

One that worsened in Victoria. Saturday's 12 new infections includes 10 locally acquired cases and in New South Wales, seven new cases of community transmission.

That came with news the risk on the Northern Beaches has lowered and that the risk to greater Sydney is one that's causing officials to worry.