Family High In The Land Down Under: An Australia Family Travelogue

By Angelica Bautista Viloria

"There is a tendency to see only the happiness in other lives. But this is folly, for every life has its own merits."

-From the cartoon "Gargoyles," viewed on May 5, 2000 at Marriott Resort Surfers Paradise

I knew we would learn something from this trip. See, our family had to go all the way to the land down under, just to hear this line which should inspire us for the rest of our days, no matter what.

I have always been a firm believer in travel being an enriching and educational experience. The travel bug (no relation to the I love you bug) bit me when I was about 11 years old, when my own parents took me for my first trip to Japan. I enjoyed travelling with the family a lot that I vowed I would let my kids experience the same thing.

My son, Adi, is now more than 3 years old. Since 1995, I have been plotting (and visualizing) to be in Australia in the year 2000. It doesn't have to be during the Olympics. The year 2000 was just my year to be down under. Last April 28-May 6, my family was off to Australia for our annual vacation. The principle of what the mind can conceive, the body can achieve has again been demonstrated in our lives, happily, more frequently lately.

In the next few write-ups, which will be available in the next few days, I will be sharing with you our Australian trip experience. Families considering a trip to the land down under may use these as guides to planning their own vacations. Our Australian trip was a truly enjoyable experience. Yes, even with and particularly with a three-year old. Hop on board!

Preparing for the trip

The first thing I learned from this vacation was that it is good to plan early. It saves you a lot of stress. We started to put things together in February and got all our papers on April 26, two days before our trip. So, if you want to save yourself some worrying, it is best to fix everything about 4 months before.

It is good to have a passport ready for your kid, whether you plan to go anywhere or not. So, should a travel opportunity suddenly pop up, you're ready to go. Travel agencies will usually charge you P1,000-P1,500 to process your passports. Passport processing can be done in 3 modes: Normal (which takes about 1 month), Rush (two weeks and in my case, it also took a month), and Expedite (5 days). The faster you want your passport, the bigger the fee.

In applying for your kid's passport, it is easier to have the mother's passport accompany it. Otherwise, you will still have to make an affidavit stating that the mother is allowing the kid to travel alone with the father. Travel agents will also handle getting the authenticated birth and marriage certificates from the Census for you and will just charge you a fee of about P200-P250 per.

To apply for a visa, you can go to the Australian embassy personally or have your travel agent handle it for you. Should you personally decide to go the the embassy, you'll probably spend half a day there and pay the fee of P1,500. A travel agent will charge you a P2,000 fee and will take care of everything from their end. A personal appearance will only be necessary should some things need further clarification.

In applying for a visa you will need the following:
  1. Your latest Income Tax Return;

  2. Bank certifications proving that you have enough funds to support you during your stay in Australia;

  3. A school certification stating that your kid is a bona fide student at his/her school and that he/she is enrolled for the present or coming schoolyear;

  4. Certifications from your employer stating: your salary, your approved number of days and period for your leave, that you have a job to return to after your trip; and

  5. Travel insurance. We got ours from Blue Cross and it cost us about P600+ (US$15) per person for 9 days. There are more expensive insurance packages available from other companies but this should not be necessary.
Having done all these, you should be off and vacationing. We were off to Australia on April 28, and you should read about the rest of the trip in the next portions. We will try to give you some indications as to which attractions we enjoyed the most. Stay tuned.

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Top of the Page ^

01 - Intro, Visa requirements
02 - Off To Australia, Adi's Plane Ride
03 - Sydney Wonderland Themepark, Olympic Park Aquatic Center, Charcoal Mine Restaurant (Parramatta)
04 - The Opera House, Silver Spring Resto, Paddy's Market, St. Mary's Cathedral and the Archibald Fountain at Hyde Park
05 - Nature Tripping at the Blue Mountains
06 - Taronga Zoo, Writers' Walk at Circular Quay, Sydney Aquarium, Lobster Cave Resto, AMP Tower
07 - Brisbane, Gold Coast
08 - MovieWorld
09 - SeaWorld

Copyright © 2000 by Angelica Bautista Viloria. All Rights Reserved.
Photographs copyright © 2000 by Angel and Manuel Viloria. All Rights Reserved.
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