Just Getting Away
At this point in time, we are just grateful that we managed to get out of Australia and have the chance to do some cruising in France this year. Australia has fared fairly well in the COVID epidemic, with case numbers and deaths per capita being very low compared to the rest of the world. Very tight controls on international borders (especially inbound travellers) have probably contributed a lot to this fortunate situation. However, in addition, the Government has been very cautious about letting Australians leave the country, knowing that at some stage they will want to come back to Australia, and there are already lots of Australians overseas who cannot return because of the limited inbound flight arrival numbers. So the Government doesn't want to add to those numbers. and compound the problem. So it has been difficult to obtain permission to leave Australia unless you have a very good and urgent reason (or you are a friend of the Prime Minister).
However, with the gradual easing of the COVID situation in 2021, the Government introduced a new system, with slightly relaxed regulations, if you promise not to return to Australia within 3 months. This has eliminated many travellers, who do not want, or cannot afford, to stay away for that long. However, for us it is a near-perfect situation. Rita can stay in Switzerland/EU for as long as she wants with her dual-citizenship, and one of the accepted reasons for travel is to complete educational activities. Given that she is nearing the completion of her Music Therapy course in Dijon, and only needs to complete some internships and short courses, she had the ready-made reason and was granted a Travel Exemption immediately in 2021 (after failing to get one in 2020 on compassionate grounds to go see her 94 yeal old mum).
My situation was a little trickier, but I had heard from another Australian bargee that he and his wife had obtained Travel Exemptions on the grounds of urgent repair work that needed to be done on their barge after 18 months of it sitting idle in port. Since I had just received a long list of things that needed to be done on our barge from H2O boatyard, I applied on the same grounds and got a Travel Exemption on a second attempt (I had initially forgot to tell them that I was going to live on the barge, as well as do the work on it, and hence had accomodation for the entire period that I would be away. I initially told them I would be away for exactly 3 months, but I might apply again for a Carte de Sejour when I get to France so that I can legally stay in France for longer than 3 months if it proves difficult to return to Australia even after 3 months.