Traveller Letters: The real reason young Aussies don't want to see their own country

ANYWHERE BUT HERE

I couldn't help but cringe at some of the lazy depictions of young people in your recent article by Josh Dye (traveller.com.au, September 13) about young Australians shunning domestic travel. Cynical jabs about Australian holidays not appealing to Gen Z because it doesn't play well on social media are ignorant, dismissive and somewhat offensive.

Young Australians don't backpack much around Australia, not just because of the cost, but because so much of it just feels like home. That's why so many European students backpack here - it's not familiar. As wonderful as our beaches, islands and deserts are, they're still home, and home isn't adventure. It's not a challenge and it doesn't represent personal growth.

The writer is correct that there is an opportunity to discover indigenous culture in Australia. But the moment you step away from the beaten track, travel in Australia becomes prohibitively expensive for young people. It's also dominated by families and empty-nesters, which is not a bad thing, but it's also not usually a uni student's idea of fun. Blaming young people for not wanting to spend their hard-earned on what they don't want is just failing to listen.

Jeremy Bean-Hodges, Annerley, QLD

See also: Backpackers love Australia, why don't young Aussies?

BORDER INSECURITIES

After watching an episode of the Border Security program we wonder why the penalties for biosecurity risks at our airports appear so small ($200-$300) given the risks they pose and the overt nature of many infringements. Compare our experience on entering New Zealand for an overnight stay on our way back to Australia from Cook Islands. Having bought an apple (with an NZ sticker on it) in Aitutaki (one of the Cook Islands) we forgot it was in our backpack. Pulled up by NZ Border Security, there was an on the spot fine of $400 or court. Obviously it was our fault; why are our consequences so comparatively light?

Francis Sal, Glen Waverley, VIC

NABBING A REFUND

I've just read the letter from Noeline McNair (Traveller Letters, September 19) about her long wait for a refund from Lufthansa. We too had booked flights in June which were cancelled, but we had booked our tickets directly with Lufthansa. I sent Lufthansa lots of emails asking for a refund. They replied saying our request was with their refund department and they would contact me soon. I sent emails every month and got the same reply. We then contacted our NAB credit card which we had used to purchase the Lufthansa tickets, and within two days we got a full refund. The bank also credited our international transfer fees which would not have been refunded by Lufthansa. Thank you NAB Visa. Hope you have the same success as us, Noeline.

Judith Metcalf, Mosman, NSW

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BARKING UP THE WRONG FEES

Noelene McNair's travel agent is almost certainly as frustrated as she is regarding a Lufthansa refund. As an agent, I am affronted by the accusation that agencies seek to derive profit from delaying refund disbursements. As a body, we are refunding millions of dollars of refunds per week, generally as quickly as we receive the funds, and for nix, other than JobKeeper payments. We cannot give back what we do not have. While three to four weeks was normal pre-COVID-19, some airlines are taking six months plus. Indeed my agency is still chasing refunds for cancellations made in March, for clients' cancelled April travel. Feel free to criticise, but please choose the correct target. A visit to the website of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, afta.com.au, may help readers understand the situation, particularly the section about refunds for travel agency customers.

Adrienne Witteman, Longueville, NSW

EDITOR'S NOTE The McNairs contacted Traveller on September 21 to say their Lufthansa refund had finally been received.

GO WEST

I'm really enjoying the opportunity that the pandemic has presented for local touring and sightseeing. Any chance you could do something about the far west region of NSW? Whilst we can't get to Cameron Corner (the store and town being on the Queensland side of the border) we can certainly get to White Cliffs and Tibooburra. Tilpa, Louth to Bourke up the Darling is another route. I am interested in going to Tibooburra via White Cliffs - there is around 135 kilometres of unsealed road - and it wouldn't worry me if it was reasonable and a two-wheel drive road. Other trips are Nyngan to Tottenham and Condoblin. If the road was passable, Ivanhoe, Hillston and Lake Cargelligo to West Wyalong (not quite far west).

Terry Cook, Ermington, NSW

EDITOR'S NOTE Keep an eye out in coming weeks for coverage in Traveller of NSW's far west Corner Country. In the meantime, do not attempt driving on any unsealed roads in the outback in anything other than a robust, fully-fledged four-wheel drive vehicle. Even then, ensure you're well-stocked with water and snacks and check that your vehicle's spare tyre is in good condition. Do not leave your vehicle in the event of a mishap.

HOME RUN

We travelled to Ireland in early March and had to cut short our holiday to return home when advised to do so. Flight Centre were fantastic in helping us get flights back home (we were lucky that we booked our travel with Qatar). They then assisted us in getting refunds for some of our cancelled accommodation and tourist attractions. Our travel insurer didn't want to know us as they had a general pandemic exclusion but our credit card insurer Allianz came to the rescue and covered the rest of our out-of-pockets as the credit card policy didn't have a pandemic exclusion. Well done to both companies on their responses and actions.

Dale Borthwick, Hillside, VIC

CRUISING FOR A BRUISING

After a cruise was cancelled in March on the morning it was to leave Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Princess Cruises offered to pay out of pocket expenses – good customer service. But six months later, they will not even indicate when the money will be paid; they will only say they are processing the claims in the order they are received.

Peter Davies, Darwin, NT

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