Considering a family holiday to Australia [AD]

In just 18 months, my husband will retire from his career. We always planned to take the children out of school and travel for a year in our camper van when he finished. The assumption was that we’d homeschool and they’d slot back into their classes on our return. Sadly, it’s looking likely that this won’t work. The girls’ school has become incredibly popular and the chances are if we take them out, they won’t get back in again. So instead we’ll travel during their school holidays. We’ll head to Europe in the Summer and get a tourist visa to travel to Australia in the Winter. It’s not what we planned, but it’s just as exciting.

Getting a visa for Australia

Did you know that you’re not allowed to check in for a flight to Australia without a visa? I’m not really one for package holidays. I went on a few when I was younger but I’ve always had a better time booking each element separately. With that comes responsibility. I need to personally research every element of the trip. Ensure the places we go are safe. Book internal flights, know roughly where we’re going to stay and make sure I have the relevant documents.

The electronic Australia visa is thankfully relatively straightforward to obtain. The online application form takes around five minutes to complete. It costs £14.95 per person which can be paid with a credit or debit card or via PayPal. Confirmation of the visa will be sent via email and if it’s urgent, this can be done within the hour.

The usual tourist visa is the eVisitor. This allows you to visit the country for work, business or volunteering. However, if you are unsure whether you want to work in the country or whether the eVisitor is right for you, it’s worth looking into different types of visa for Australia.

Why a holiday to Australia takes careful planning

When it comes to holidays, I’m not one for planning. I love nothing more than arriving in a country with no plans. Sometimes I used to book my first night’s accommodation, other times I’d just go. It always worked out fine. However there are two reasons why this approach won’t work for a family holiday in Australia.

Firstly, finding accommodation will be a little more difficult with four of us to think of. Whilst I’ll still be happy to stay in youth hostels, we’d want a family room. This will be more difficult to find than the single bunk I used to grab when I was travelling alone. Secondly, Australia is vast. To see different parts of it, it’s essential to book internal flights. Even when I went on my own I booked an internal flight before I went. I was a bit more spontaneous with accommodation but my internal flight from Sydney to Cairns was essential if I wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef, which was one of my main reasons for going.

This time, I’d like to see lots of Australia’s incredible wildlife with the girls. Swimming with whale sharks in Western Australia is on my bucket list and I know Libby is desperate to see a kangaroo. We’ll want to visit the National Parks so I’ll be taking advice from the Parks and Wildlife Service website on where to go and what we’ll see there.

Oh the places we will go

I don’t have an exact itinerary in mind yet, but there are so many places I’d like to visit that it’s useful to put some thought into it. Whale sharks, the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Sydney and the Blue Mountains are all on my radar. Last time I went to Australia, we stayed in and around Sydney. This time I think we’ll fly into Sydney and then take some internal flights to Perth, Uluru and Cairns.

I’d like to take a sailing boat trip around the Whitsunday Islands. It’s something I did when I was in my 20s and I just know that the children will love it. Crystal clear water, blue skies, white sandy beaches and unspoilt islands. The girls won’t be old enough to scuba dive, but they can snorkel so they can see the coral and beautiful fish that way. I used to think that I’d like to live in Australia but it was never the right time. Maybe our trip will inspire the children to get a working visa for a long stay when they’re older, or even move there one day. It would be great to have an excuse to go and visit.

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