Housesitting is the lifestyle plan for me and Phil, my husband, going forward
Eventually we will sign up with an agency, probably Trusted Housesitters. We have not needed to as yet as we were fortunate enough to land our first housesitting assignment through a uni friend.
I hadn’t seen my old uni friend for over 20 years and as part of the round the world trip Phil and I did in 2011/2 the plan was to go visit her in Melbourne. Our dates clashed with her planned visit to England, which was disappointing as I was looking forward to seeing her again. Then she mentioned that all they needed to organise was a house and dog sitter and I proposed that we could be those sitters. Surprisingly she said yes, having only met my husband at our wedding. I had never met hers. However they entrusted us to look after Mac and Poppy while they were away.
And so it was in November 2011 we got to Melbourne and panicked when questioned by passport control about where we were staying in Melbourne.
‘I don’t know.’
Having since watched Border Control I now realise this was not a good answer to give.
‘My friend is meeting us’
I had realised by then to say ‘a friend I have not seen in over 25 years and just recently got back in touch with through Facebook’ would not have been a good idea.
‘Do you have a phone number for her?’
‘No, I don’t and I don’t have a phone that will work in this country yet.’
‘What if she doesn’t meet you?’
I don’t think they checked if we were met, but I guess they could see that we had a flight booked out of the country so we reckoned they did not consider there was a big risk of us overstaying our visa. We were let into Australia. Also as it was incredibly busy in the arrivals hall, I think they just needed to get us out of there.
My friend was there at the gate.
And I got to spend two weeks with her as she had to change her dates due to some big music awards thing (Aria is pretty big) she had to attend. It was great because it gave us the opportunity to reconnect, and she and her husband got to show off their city. And we got to see Dolly Parton in concert, for free.
The next time we went in 2015 I had the addresses, emails, phone numbers all ready if I got questioned. Although we had no idea where we were staying in Sydney. As one of our hosts was a barrister I reckoned she would get us out of the airport if detained.
‘Don’t mention housesitting, I have heard they have a dim view on housesitting.’
I must have said this to Phil a dozen times.
The arrivals hall was empty and we were made to use the retina recognition machines (always a challenge to those of us who wear specs) and sailed through border control in a matter of minutes.
Up until that moment I was convinced we would get the same questions, especially as I had a different visa than I had in 2011. But that is another story. I really must stop watching Border Control.
And now Phil and I are going back for the third housesit at the same house with the same dogs and I am getting all panicky about the visas again. This time it is because we will be in Australia for just under 3 months, the maximum time the e visa allows us to stay.
The reason for the longer stay is that we have two house sits booked now, both in Melbourne, with a gap between them.
The plan was to zoom in, get over jet lag, dump excess luggage in Melbourne and then fly to Darwin, travel over land to Alice and see Uluru. In 2 days, since beginning to write this post, plans have changed. We will now be arriving in Melbourne the day before the sit begins.
This is because Carole King is playing in Hyde Park, London. To make the most of the three-month visa restriction I have had to change our plans. Do you see how complicated and random my life is? Fortunately nothing was booked.
I have three itineraries in front of me and numerous tabs open on the desktop. Australian Border Control, Viator, Tripadvisor, tour companies to help decide on tours we can make in-between and after sits. I want to use an Australian based company to tour with, not some big multinational company based in Canada. It is hard to tell with some of them and if you book via Viator I have yet to find out if you can see who the tour operator is.
There are other things to consider.
Do we drive from Sydney to Brisbane? Wait, didn’t I just say we were going to Darwin, Uluru and Alice? Yes I did. That is still the plan between house sits.
We have to go to Sydney as Yum Cha is a must with our friends there. I wanted to go to Tassie to but no time to fit it in and it will be cold in August. Darwin and Brisbane will be warmer, although the tour operators warn that temperatures drop at night in the NT. I am taking thermals.
So far the itinerary looks like this
10 July Birmingham to Melbourne via Dubai
13 July arrive Melbourne
14 July house sit until 22 August
23 August fly to Darwin
24 August 10 day Kakadu to Uluru tour
3 September fly from Alice Springs to Melbourne
4 to 21 September house sit in Melbourne
22 September fly to Sydney
22 to 25 stay at Rocks YHA Sydney – may do a Bridge climb, will go for Yum Cha
26 September drive to Brisbane using this itinerary
11 October fly Brisbane to New Zealand (tbk) or home or……..
With just two days left on the visa.
I am panicking that something will go wrong and we will overstay the visa and be banned from entering Australia for 3 years (Border Control again).
The other issue I have is packing. What to pack and what in? I still have my back pack but my back is not good. On tours you need to take minimum, yet in Melbourne we will be city slickers and need at least one good outfit. My Dubarry boots with a dress sufficed for Melbourne casual dining but those boots will not be suitable for hiking around Uluru and scuba diving at Lady Musgrave Island. They will not fit in a back pack.
And if we go to New Zealand, do we get a camper van again? We had a love hate relationship with our camper in 2011. Do we fly into Christchurch and see more of the South Island? Will it be too cold? It is often cheaper to hire cars and campers in Christchurch if going to Auckland as the companies want the main stock on the North Island.
After New Zealand I would quite like to visit The Cook Islands. Those Dubarry boots will be of no use there either. Men don’t have these problems.
Oh, did I mention we have a friend working in LA ? We would like to go see him too, and maybe drive to Las Vegas, maybe San Francisco and we always said we wished we had spent more time in Pismo Beach.
Maybe one big road trip across America?
And then there is the insurance to sort out….. our annual policy will not suffice. The to do list is getting longer.
Where do you think we could go?