We really did not have any intention to visit the Gold Coast on our return to Oz. As a result of the absurd rule when entering New Zealand, there was a possibility that we needed to show proof of a flight out of the country, in order to get into the country. The airlines do not usually ask for this proof of onward travel. However, in one other instance during our four (4) year RTW journey, proof was required. Just prior to departing French Polynesia (on way to New Zealand), we had the decision whether to take the risk of not purchasing an onward ticket out of New Zealand with the hope that the airport staff wouldn’t ask. The reason we are reluctant to purchase an air ticket in advance out of New Zealand is because we like having the flexibility of not being nailed down to a definitive date & location of our next leg of our journey. A large part of the joy of this journey is not having to make commitments during our travels.
Fortunately, in this case, we did definitively know that Australia was our next destination. Still, having to set a departure dated kinda pissed me off because we wanted to have the option to extend our stay in NZ if we needed more time exploring the country.
I was going to wing it and take the chance, hoping I would not be asked for proof of this onward ticket. However, calm and cool Big Doug slightly panicked just 2 days prior to departure from French Polynesia. I searched thru the Skyscanner app on my iphone and found the least expensive ticket (only $100 pp) out of Christchurch, NZ was to the Gold Coast (Brisbane, Australia). I figured if had to bail on this flight, we were only on the hook to eat a $100 ticket per person.
We had covered the Gold Coast area of Queensland extensively during our previous trip to Oz. The Gold Coast is warm all year round and is lined with superb beaches stretching the entire coast north. I figured what better way to begin our return to Australia than simply hanging out in a vintage Aussie beach town. We flew into Brisbane where Barbie got her haircut and then proceeded driving the easy hour south to the up and coming beach town of Burleigh Heads. We spent about a week here in a well located Airbnb enjoying beach life and the relaxed laid back vibe that this town has on tap. It was pure bliss after being constantly on the move driving from place to place in New Zealand where we covered both the North and South Islands, rarely staying in any one place for more than 3-4 nights.
I could easily see us living in Burleigh Heads long term if we can only figure out a way to get an extended Australian visa. Fortunately, there is a way around this visa issue. We applied for an online Australian (ETA) visa. This online visa is not only simple to apply for, it also offers a great deal of flexibility as the visa is valid for one full year with multiple three (3) month entries. Meaning, we can stay in Australia for the 3 months but must leave the country for at least a day. Upon our return, the clock would reset and we would receive another 3 month stay. Basically, this yearly visa would allow us to leave and come back to Australia for four (4) visits with a total of three months for each visit. It would be kinda foolish to leave Australia just for a few days and just fly right back into the country when there are so many cool surrounding countries that are so ridiculously cheap flying to from Australia. It would make sense to enjoy a week or so trip to countries like Bali, Fiji, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Tonga and return back to Australia for the next three month stay.
Well, after panicking and pulling the trigger on a air ticket out of New Zealand, the agent at the airport never asked for proof of onward travel out of NZ, so it turns out we were pinned down unnecessarily to our flight to the Gold Coast. Not a problem at all, but I really should have went to the airport without the onward ticket and if asked, I could have easily purchased one on my i-phone, right on the spot. Looking back, we were actually glad being forced into a decision because our stay in Burleigh Heads reinforced our feelings on what a great lifestyle that can be had there.
After our week stay in this wonderful beach town, we hopped on a plane to Adelaide in South Australia with the primary goal of visiting Kangaroo Island for an extended stay. Despite about a half dozen visits to Australia, we never really considered South Australia. Many travelers overlook South Australia because of time constraints in favor of the more popular states of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia. After reading such glowing reviews of the Kangaroo Islands fabulous beaches, we were sold. Having a girlfriend that adores animals and wildlife, and would probably trade in her boyfriend (Me), for a furry animal (I also have body hair) that does not talk back, I still pulled the trigger on Kangaroo Island despite the possibly of getting dumped for a Roo.