Tuesday, July 23, 2024

‘The kids are loving it – they’re doing TikToks on the creek’: how Covid is rewriting travel bucket lists

Michaela Sargent, who is relaxing on the dock of Henderson Park Farm retreat outside Rockhampton and raving about her family’s newfound…

By Chan , in Travel , at April 1, 2024

Michaela Sargent, who is relaxing on the dock of Henderson Park Farm retreat outside Rockhampton and raving about her family’s newfound passion for the Outback, enjoys the golden glow as the sun sets.

She says, “I never thought about staying on a farmhouse before. It’s fantastic.” The kids love it. They’re playing TikToks in the creek, they fed a baby wallaby, and they understand where their food comes from.

Last year, the Brisbane Family’s annual holiday was less about hay and more about Harry Potter. A trip to Harry Potter World would be the highlight of a UK trip, along with a few weeks spent in India visiting family. The Covid-19 shutdown forced them to team up with other holiday-makers whose plans were disrupted and discover Queensland.

In April, we visited Airlie Beach together with another family. We decided to go to places that our friends hadn’t been to before, such as Carnarvon Gorge and Emerald, Longreach, and Winton.

The experience has forever changed Sargent’s family holidays. She and her husband now own a larger, diesel four-wheel drive to allow them to take more road trips.

Tripadvisor, a travel website, says that 41% of Australians are more inclined to plan outdoor or nature excursions and 38% more inclined to plan road trips compared to before the pandemic. The fastest-growing accommodation types are farm stays and campgrounds. Travelers are also looking for innovative ways to explore Australia. Airbnb has reported similar changes. Farmstays, villas, and cottages are among the most popular listing categories for Australians in September.

Susan Sherrington, Travel Director at Pulse, reports that many of her clients are changing their bucket lists. Many people would have saved up the Ghan Cruise or the Kimberly Cruise to be done when they were older, but now choose to do it.

Karen Lei, a Logan resident, did just that. She booked a fly-drive trip to the Outback of Queensland instead. She says there is a silver lining to staying in Logan: “There are so many things to see, and a language barrier won’t hinder you. If something were to happen, we’re close by. “It’s a gift in disguise.”

John Elliott, outback tourism manager


Regional destinations are experiencing a boom as travelers seek out new experiences nearer home. John Elliott, Winton Council’s tourism manager, said that August in Queensland was the best. John Elliott, Winton Council’s tourism and events manager, says that most towns have been 100% full since August.

Elliott says that the pandemic is forcing people to rethink their leisure activities. With no coronavirus cases, city dwellers are now looking at Outback Queensland as a place of safety. He says that a large number of young people, including families, travel. “Traditionally, we wouldn’t see so many of these travellers,” he said.

He claims that the attraction goes beyond major attractions like the Australian Age of Dinosaurs. “They bring their children to the main road and lay on their backs, and watch the stars. In the city, you don’t do this.”

Sargent says that it is these simple pleasures that make an outback vacation so affordable. It’s really just petrol and accommodation. They’re not outrageous costs. We’re happy to spend locally, even though it is significantly cheaper without the airfare. We shop locally and don’t buy anything at home.

COVID-19 has reduced the number of tourists per tour, allowing travelers to discover destinations that are off the beaten tourist track.

Muttaburra is the geographic center of Queensland and has witnessed an unprecedented steady stream of tourists stopping by to take a look, stay overnight, or have a meal as they wait for their turn in Longreach. Longreach is just over an hour’s drive away. Fiona Turnbull, the owner of a local store and pub, says that people enjoy the town’s small-town atmosphere. It has two great time capsule museums, an artesian bath, and a sculpture path.

She says, “They love camping down the river, fishing and campfires.” You could say that there is more freedom here. It’s old-fashioned fun. Muttaburra is not fancified. “It’s just the way it is.”

Wotif’s latest research shows that nostalgia is at the heart of it all, with 60 percent of Australians planning a return to places that remind them fondly of their childhood.

Clio Robertson, a Brisbane woman, and her husband, Phil Rocha, are booking holidays for their children to visit places they’ve visited in BC (Before Children). Clio Robertson, who spent months trying to get a refund for a visit to her family in the UK, is now focusing on smaller local trips that don’t involve air travel. This will reduce the chances of COVID-19 forcing her cancellation.

“We’re back from three nights at O’Reilly’s (Rainforest Retreat outside Brisbane) – we’d gone bushwalking there but never brought the kids or stayed there. I thought it was expensive and would rather spend our money overseas. It was amazing! “We’d like to go back every year.”