That time has come round again – It’s 5 years to the day since we retired, left The Netherlands and got on a one-way flight to Bali to start our lives as “Permanent Tourists”. And here we are – More “Permanent” than “Tourists” 🙂
Our last post saw us arriving in Darwin and buying a car. Our first destination was south, through the Northern Territory to Alice Springs and on to Uluru. It was a long, hot, dusty and at times, boring journey – But we eventually made it and so glad we did!
Next, we headed back north again and then into Western Australia – Australia’s largest state. From Kununurra, through the Kimberley and via Broome along the coastal road to Perth. A great journey: Amazing scenery, iconic towns and beaches to die for.
We were surprised to find that the alcohol laws are even stricter in Northern WA than they are in the NT. Not only do the bottle-shops have strange opening times, but besides having to show ID, they also limit you to what you can purchase each day😱
We arrived in Perth and had a few days to explore before it was time to comply with our 90-day visa condition and leave the country. We parked up the car for 4 weeks and flew to Bali and, needless to say, had a wonderful time in one of our favourite places.
We returned to Perth at the end of October. Our aim was to spend the next 3 months heading to Melbourne. This gave us the chance to travel much slower and stay longer in places. We carried on following the coast all the way to Esperance, where we had to head inland to the start of the Nullarbor Plain – the only way to get from Western Australia to South Australia. It runs from Norseman to Ceduna, a total of 1200 very desolate kms. There are limited places to stay along the way and fuel stations are few and far between. Expections weren’t high so we were pleasantly surprised at the level of accommodation and food.
It was around this time that the bush fires were getting out of control, especially in the southeast of the country. In Adelaide we saw for ourselves, how dire the situation was:
By the time we got to Melbourne, the first reports of COVID-19 were starting to filter through. We thought nothing of it , spent a great week there and then returned to Bali for a month.
When we got back around mid February, we intended to head north towards Queensland as quickly as possible, in order to avoid the onset of winter. We drove 350kms (didn’t even make it out of Victoria), found a wonderful house and decided to stay for a while.
Big mistake! The states closed their borders and we realised we wouldn’t be going anywhere for a while.
We needed somewhere to hole up for a while and though the house we were in was lovely, we couldn’t see ourselves spending months there, especially not during winter.
We’d previously rented a wonderful property in Maldon, a few hours south. We contacted the host and he told us that all his bookings had been cancelled and we could have the house for a greatly reduced rate. We immediately booked it for an initial two months with the option to extend – And here we are – Now into our second month:
Life here is pretty sweet. With under 100 deaths, Australia seems a good place to sit out this pandemic. We don’t have lockdowns, shops are well stocked, people are friendly. We can go for long walks and in general, social distancing seems to be working very well. Now there is even talk that restrictions will be soon be eased.
Nice as it is here though, we can’t wait to be on the move again. It’s going to be quite a while until International travel will be possible, but as soon as the state borders re-open (hopefully before winter really sets in), we’ll be off, and then with any luck, it won’t be too long before we can head back to Asia.
Our Australia visa is due to expire in a few days time. Currently we’ve got an e-visa (subclass 651) which has to be renewed outside of the country. Our only alternative has been to apply for a year’s visa (subclass 600) which takes much longer (if it’s granted at all) and unlike the free e-visa, comes at a price. Hours after submitting our application on line, we received a “bridging visa” meaning we’ll be her legally between our current visa running out and (hopefully) obtaining the new one. Now it’s just a matter of “wait and see”.
One positive thing to come out of this – We’ll never to take the freedom to travel for granted again. Of all the things which we thought would eventually stop us moving on: Health, boredom, travel fatigue, hankering to settle down – This virus has really brought home how quickly and unexpectedly situations change. After 5 years, we’ve probably become a bit jaded and it’s good to be forced into a situation that reminds us of how lucky we are and rekindles our excitement and appreciation for this amazing lifestyle we’ve chosen.
Oh yes! It just happens to be my birthday too – The big 60😱. We were supposed to be on an exotic South Pacific island, sipping wine on a beach, in the sun …… Maybe next year. Mind you, champagne tastes pretty good here too😀!
Stay safe everyone!