Do we need a Visa for Australia & if so what visa should we apply for ?

This is a question we often. Here is how we reply:

We are not in a position to give advice , immigration are very adamant that we are not to do that !

We can only suggest that you visit the following links to the Australian Government Department of Immigration & Border Protection website:

We can also share with you other people's experience for you to consider.

Below is an account of the recent experience of USA residents & passport holders Robbie & Bev of S.V Mersoleil , 2015 DUR participants.

Hope this helps and sorry I cannot be more useful in this regard  :)

Robbie & Bev write ;

We did the simple ETA visa, good for 90 days, as I remember, then we had to renew. All the paperwork was handled by email. When you renew they require you to go to a Bupa Clinic (by appt made online, and not just any Bupa clinic but the specific one at which they give you an appt, they have many clients in addition to immigration). Your appointment for chest x-ray and urinalysis is quick and the clinics are clean and very well-operated. A GP gives you the once over, asks you how you're feeling, then you're on your way. Very professional operation, just follow the instructions on the website and in the email confirmation. And don't miss your appointment or be late, in which case they'll be happy to invite you to reschedule. It's self-pay and modestly priced compared to the cost of medical work in America. Really, no whining is appropriate.

They're so courteous and conscientious that when I cancelled an appointment (I couldn't get to shore, stuck at Pittwater, didn't want those dreaded leeches on my legs after hike to Berowra Stn) for my appt and had to reschedule) they actually sent me an email saying, "You cancelled your appointment, please tell us why."

You might want to explain to people that Bupa is a huge British company that is a contract provider of insurance and medical services. They do things like provide medical programs for large corporations, perform drug and vision testing for licensing agencies, and they happen to have the contract with immigration to perform the medical exams required for immigration, visitor visas, foreign workers, etc. It's a huge corporation and you'll see their signage in every CBD and suburb. That doesn't mean you can just walk in to any Bupa facility and say, "Hi there, I'd like to extend my visa." There are only specific places contracted to perform that particular work, plenty of them, but specific locations. ANd they don't have anything to do with extending your visa, so don't even take your list of questions with you, It's simply, "Put on this paper gown, there's the x-ray room over there, here pee in this, 'how are you feeling,' that will be a couple hundred dollars, and "good-bye, the government will contact you." It's an excellent system. Follow their rules and it will go like clockwork.

I believe immigration asked us how long we wanted the extension to be, but there was a limit of one year for simple extensions. We expected to leave in July or early August and said 'October' to be safe.

Friends of ours applied from the get-go for the one year, more complicated visa, knowing that they were going to be here longer than 90 days. When I asked them about their experience, they told me that they were sorry they did it that way and wished they had just gone for the ETA like we did. They had to arrange their own chest x-rays, urine tests, etc., at greater expense in New Cal and the ensuing confusion delayed their passage to Oz. There was no point in going through that -They went to great effort and probably greater expense to accomplish the same privileges that we have. The Bupa system is definitely easier.

Please note ; By sharing this information The Down Under Rally is not making any recommendation in regard to which visa is the correct visa for you . We are simply sharing the information we have received from a past participant .This information may no longer be relevant or it may not be relevant to your situation.

How long can our vessel stay in Australia without having to pay import taxes?

The Australian Border Force will issue you with a Control Permit will be issued to the Master of the craft once they are satisfied the craft is transiting Australia for non-commercial purposes.

Control Permits are for a period of 12 months. Extension of the permit may be granted on application, provided that you meet eligibility requirements. If extensions are granted the total period of stay shall not exceed 3 years.

For more information go to the following page of the Australian Border Force website:

We are very interested in joining your “Go West Rally” but understand your boats leave in mid-October from New Caledonia. It looks likes we’ll be almost a month behind and won’t be ready to leave for Australia until early to mid-November. Can we still “join” the rally? 

The Go West Rally is a "destination rally" meaning that we do not sail to a schedule, there is no set departure date. Participants in the rally are free to depart for Australia from either Vanuatu or New Caledonia with the goal of arriving in Australia between October 1st and November 30th. 

In 2018 we are offering TWO Go West Rally options.

They are the Go West "Bundy" Rally & the Go West "All Ports" Rally. 

Bundy Rally - About:

Bundaberg is the port of entry for the" Bundy Rally" and our preferred Australian port of entry - see the following page of our website - Port of Entry "Why Bundaberg" 

In addition to all the other benefits you receive when you join either rally there is are a couple of added advantages for those vessels who choose to join the "Bundy Rally":

  • If you join the "Bundy Rally" the fee for your initial Pratique & Timber inspection of your vessel (biosecurity inspection) on arrival in Bundaberg is included in the rally entry fee and as such the cost to you for this inspection if you join the "Bundy Rally" will be zero!

  • We also hold Welcome Week in Bundaberg and we encourage all those who are visiting Australia for the first time to join us in Bundaberg for Welcome Week. Apart from the parties and fun activities that are a part of Welcome Week we also hold some very informative seminars about cruising and traveling in Australia. Welcome Week commences on the 7th November. For more info about welcome week go to the following page of our website:

All Ports Rally - About

You can however choose to enter Australia in a different port of entry and still get many of the benefits associated with joining the rally. Those who wish to arrive in a port other than Bundaberg can join the Go West"All Ports" Rally for a reduced rally entry fee.

To find out more about the benefits of joining either of the rallies and the rally entry fees please go to the following page of our website:

Do you have an understanding of how the boat bottom should be on arrival in Australia?  Should it be cleaned, newly painted, etc.? 

There have been rumours about biosecurity expecting every vessel to be lifted out of the water and pressure cleaned, as part of their “new” Bio-Fouling Policy. THIS IS NOT CORRECT.

If you have a clean hull as 95% of the visiting yachts do have when they arrive in Australia, then you don’t have a problem! (The majority of yachts, have their hull cleaned before departing for Australia to minimise the drag through the water).

If you have significant growth on your hull when you arrive, Quarantine will inspect the hull with an underwater camera and then decide if the growth on the hull is a threat to the marine environment of Australia. They will then advise you if you need to haul out and have the growth removed.

Can we live aboard our boat in Bundaberg?

Question: I am currently in Fiji. I have not yet joined the DownUnder Rally because of the following: The Bundaberg website states no lives boards. I will be aboard my vessel for most of my time in Australia. This presents a problem. Even though you are associated with Bundaberg, what Marina do you suggest please? I realise there are other services etc the Rally offers, but I need to resolve the berth situation prior to joining the Rally. 

Answer: Down Under Rally response; Bundaberg Port Marina replied saying:
I am not sure where Eve has found this no live aboard statement. The only thing that I can think of is that Eve may have misunderstood our dry storage yard policy. We do allow live aboards in both our wet berths and hardstand areas. The wet berths have a fee for living aboard but the Hardstand has it built into the price. The dry storage yard has no power or water services hence no live aboard. 

What happens if we change our intended Australian port of arrival on route?

Question: We are interested to join the rally but we have been told by someone that if we change our intended port of arrival whilst on route due to weather or for any other reason and arrive in another port we will get in trouble with customs for not arriving in the port we nominated. Is this true?
Answer: I sent this question via email to the Australian Border Force ( formally known as customs) and the answer below is a copy of their reply;
Hi John,
Could you please impress upon potential participants that we are working with you to facilitate clearance into Australia and contribute to a successful event. Fining yachties and issuing penalties is not our motivation.
The pre-arrival notification that is sent a minimum of 96 hours prior to arrival certainly must be accurate in terms of who is on board but we are aware that the arrival port may be subject to change due to the winds. Once this notification is sent, the master of the vessel has met the legal requirement however we would like some courtesy shown with updates on any major changes. The ports you have listed are all designated as entry ports for arrivals from overseas and as such, yachts can choose to enter any of them.
For those yachts with comms on-board we would ask that they update us once they have made a decision to head for a different port. For those that have no method at all of communicating once at sea I would suggest that their Pre-Arrival Notification be as accurate as possible at the time of their departure from Noumea so if the weather forecast they are looking at indicates for example that Brisbane is more likely outcome they give us that advice before departing.

Preparing your boat for Inspection on arrival in Australia

Question: In the document provided by the Department of Agriculture it states among other things that we should:

  • Remove panels, personal effects & other equipment from lockers/cupboards.

Is this to be done before inspection? If we do so and empty all the boat storage the boat will become a total mess. 

  • Have fresh fruit, meat & waste bagged on arrival for removal

Does cheese (vacuum packed by company, unopened package) get removed too? I have 2 Italian Parmigiano Reggiano I would hate to lose.

  • Ensure all areas of the vessel are accessible for inspection, particularly timber surfaces

Do they remove any other food items? They do not list anything else.
Answer: Down Under Rally emailed these questions to the Department of Agriculture and below is the reply they provided.
1) Regarding removal of  panels, personal effects and other equipment from lockers/cupboards.
Officers will inspect all vessels for evidence of any termite/timber pest incursion. Vessels should ensure that there is suitable access to all areas of timber for the inspection (officers need to be able to get to cupboards/ under seats, heads, etc.) Yachts will NOT be required to remove all personal effects and panels UNLESS there is evidence of an infestation at the time of initial inspection.
2) Re; Have fresh fruit, meat and waste bagged up on arrival for removal.
Fresh fruit/vegetables and meats are not permitted to Australia.  Vessels should attempt to have consumed these perishables prior to arrival.

For More information about Non-commercial vessels (yachts and private superyacht) biosecurity - Starting on the right tack go to

Like to know more about visiting Australia ?

Please feel free to submit an expression of interest in joining the Go West Rally and we will be happy to send you more information and answer any questions you might have