Facing the biggest challenge of our travels to date…Telling it like it is…Arrived in Sydney to a fabulous vacation home…

View from the veranda of our new holiday home in Fairlight/Manly, a suburb of Sydney.

As we discussed in prior posts, we never fail to “tell it like it is” although at times, we may wait to post a troublesome situation after we know more about it.  This was the case when on March 6th while already onboard the cruise for six days when Tom received an email from Australian Immigration stating that he was in violation of immigration laws.  Oddly, this didn’t include me at that point.

When we met with immigration upon boarding the ship, an issue came up at that time in regard to Tom’s visa, here again not mine.  They let us board saying we could deal with it later.  Perhaps it was some type of glitch, one we could deal with after we disembarked the ship on March 13th.

The sky’s been overcast since our arrival yesterday morning. 

We never gave it another thought until the email came through on the 6th.  The email requested documentation of our travels in Australia particularly recent cruises to which Tom quickly responded, providing appropriate documentation.

On March 9th, four days prior to the end of the cruise, the ship’s immigration officer called us in the cabin stating they were putting a call through from the immigration department in Sydney regarding “both” of our immigration violations.

When the rep came on the line, it sounded as if we were in serious trouble.  Apparently, according to their records, we’d violated the maximum 90 day period we’re allowed to stay in Australia, thus cancelling our one year visas entirely (our second in these past two years). 

Reef Bay, our views from the veranda.

According to their records, we’re currently in this country illegally.  Ouch.  Rather than spend paragraph after paragraph trying to explain the immirgration laws of Australia, we’ll simplify how this happened, as we’ve now discovered may be entirely our fault from misunderstanding the immigration laws in this country.

As meticulous as we’ve been over these past years to maintain the highest level of complaince for all laws, rules and regulations we’re stunned to find ourselves in this predicament.

Bob, our amazing landlord and new friend came running to tell us the Kookarburros were on his veranda.  We couldn’t believe our eyes for this up close view of these huge beautiful birds.

Here’s what transpired in a nutshell.  We’d assumed, (yes, we know the word “assumed” shouldn’t be in our vocabulary) that by sailing in and out of various countries during a cruise would restart the 90 days we are allowed to stay in Australia. 

How wrong we were.  In Australia when sailing from and ending up in the country, its referred to as a “closed loop” with none of the countries we’ve visited counting toward restarting the 90 day ticker of time allowed in Australia.

On the phone call with immigration on March 9th, we were instructed to show up immediately at the immigration building in Sydney upon our arrival without stop or delay.

The size of these beautiful birds is astounding when up close and personal.  We’d seen them in Trinity Beach in 2015 but never this close.  They didn’t fly off when we appraoched but they certainly checked us out.

As much as we wanted to comply, it was impossible to bring our three heavy bags and two carry on bags into the building with us.  Surely, security would have had to go through everything in the government building. 

Instead, after disembarking the ship we decided to take a taxi to the vacation rental (30 minute ride), drop off the bags and then immediately return to the center of Sydney to the Australian Immigration Building. 

By 10:45 am we were waiting in a queue to speak with someone who’d hopefully help us figure out the best solution to our dilemma.  Our options were few:

1.  Leave the country for good:  We’d lose the money for the vacation rental for 40 nights plus a portion of the cruise fare for our return to the US on April 22nd, having to board the ship during  a port of call in another country.
2.  Apply for a “bridge visa” only good for a short period while we attempt to find a solution while working with immigration.
3.  Fly out of the country with a “bridge visa” in place and also apply for a new one year visa hoping it would be approved (but not guaranteed) for our return to board the cruise.”

The Kookaburros were squaking at Bob for a treat.  He complied while we watched in wonder.

Fortunately, the kindly rep we met with was willing to help us put some of the above options in action.  She directed us to where to apply online for the “bridge visa” and also scheduled an appointment for us to return to immigration on March 27th, the last day the “bridge visa” will be valid. 

Yesterday afternoon, after returning to the vacation rental we spent hours applying for the bridge visa which was approved later in the day when we received the online confirmation.  This doesn’t warrant or guaranty in any manner that we can stay until the cruise on April 22nd. 

At this point, we have no idea what will transpire on March 27th.  We can only be patient and wait and see.  In the interim, we’re making every effort to stay upbeat and positive, neither of which will impact the outcome, both of which will aid us in maintaining our sanity in the process.

Last nights cloudy view in shopping and dining area of Manly Beach.

As for the property in Manly…its outstanding, as is our fun, funny, thoughftul and generous property owner with whom we dined out last night and have already spent considerable time hanging out together.  Both the property and owner are exceptional.

Tomorrow, we’ll share more photos and details on the fabulous accommodations and surroundings in this very special beach town of Fairlight/Manly.  We’ll keep you updated on our immigration status as we learn more over these next weeks.

Be well.


Photo from one year ago today, March 14, 2016:

We never figured out the source of smoke in these photos but the scene was gorgeous none the less.  For more photos, please click here.

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