A lucky Irish travel enthusiast is preparing to move across the world for the price of a takeaway meal.
imear Smith (31), from Crossdoney, Co Cavan, is one of 200 winners who secured a return flight to Australia for just € 10.
At the end of last month, the Australian government announced a scheme designed to bolster the country’s workforce by offering a limited number of return flights from Ireland to Adelaide.
The competition was open to applicants from Ireland and Britain who have working holiday visas and are available to travel before September 30.
Eimear lived down under for several years, but moved back home four years ago. She was already planning to return to Australia anyway in July, but thanks to securing the cheap fare, she has saved over € 2,000.
Eimear works in social care and plans to continue her career with a company in Hervey Bay in southern Queensland.
“I worked in Australia for three years and I returned home at the end of 2018. I haven’t really settled, so I was eager to go back once the pandemic finished.
“I’m going out again in July. When I saw the € 10 flights I was like, ‘Sure, I’ll try my luck and apply’, and then I won.
“I have a job and everything ready to go in social care as well as a training development officer. I’m going to work with one of my friends who has a business out there called Beyond the Spectrum that works with people with autism. “
Eimear, who lived before in Townsville, north-east Queensland, said it was the relaxed pace of life and the people in Australia that she missed most since returning home, and those are the principal reasons why she wants to go back.
“It’s so laid-back and it’s just the weather and the beaches and everything really,” she said. “For me, it has to be the people as well. It’s such a friendly place and I love to travel so I decided to go back.
“I always lived in Cavan, and I suppose I never lived the big city life, so that was something as well. Townsville is on the east coast and it’s on the beach and stuff like that. For me to get to the beach now, I’m traveling two hours whether it’s to Donegal or Dublin. “
Like so many others, Eimear found the lack of travel during the pandemic very difficult.
She said that with lockdowns now, hopefully, a thing of the past, she cannot wait to begin exploring again.
“The last time I was there, I didn’t really travel that much – I’ve never been to Adelaide,” she said. “The flight that I won is going to Adelaide and there’s terms and conditions that I have to spend some time there.
“So I’ll be spending a week in Adelaide traveling around and then making my way up to Hervey Bay, which is where I’m going to work and live.”
The working holiday visa entitles holders to stay and work in Australia for 12 months, but they can extend it by another year if they want and work toward permanent residency.
“Previously I was sponsored, but I returned home before I actually got my residency, so I’m going to have to start all over again, but hopefully it will work out for me,” Eimear said.
“I’ll be lucky enough that once I go over again I’ll be able to apply for residency, but it can take up to 18 months.”
She added that while she is overjoyed at returning to Australia, she will miss many things about home – mostly her friends and family.
“The family connections, my nieces and nephews, my mum and my dad. Obviously, the culture as well. Ireland is lovely, ”she said.
“Since I came home, I realized for the first time that Ireland is a beautiful country. I’ve traveled nearly all of Ireland during lockdown. “
Eimear said she “will see how it goes for a couple of years”, but she is not ruling out returning home for good one day.