Windsor

This family uprooted their lives in Australia to move back home amid Ontario's 3rd COVID-19 wave

For months, Danielle and Jason Baclig planned and packed up their 11-year life in Melbourne, Australia to make the move back home with their three-year-old son Emiliano and one-year-old daughter Elea to Canada. 

Australian lockdowns very different and helped rid country of the virus, family says

The Baclig family — Elea (left), Danielle (middle left), Emiliano (middle right), Jason (right) — in Melbourne after their second lockdown ended in November 2020. The family uprooted their lives in Australia to move back home earlier this month. (Submitted by Danielle Baclig)

Six COVID-19 tests, five flights, a three-day hotel quarantine stay and a repatriation flight later, the Baclig family finally made it to Harrow, Ont., from Australia. 

For months, Danielle and Jason Baclig planned and packed up their 11-year life in Melbourne, Australia, to make the move back home to Canada with their three-year-old son Emiliano and one-year-old daughter Elea. 

Their journey reflects the struggles that come with international travel during a pandemic with two young children. 

The couple, who have been quarantining at Danielle's parents' home in Essex County, said the pandemic fast forwarded their plans to make the move. 

"We thought maybe it would be in five years time, but COVID sort of expedited everything," said Danielle, adding that both her and Jason are originally from Leamington.

"Because travel was so restricted, it made it difficult to know when we were going to see our families again." 

Danielle Baclig said this was the photo they used to tell family and friends that they would be moving back home to Canada after spending 11 years in Australia. (Submitted by Danielle Baclig)

Before the pandemic, Danielle said they were seeing family roughly every six months, but that all changed last year. 

Elea, who was born in January 2020, has yet to even meet one set of her grandparents. 

"They only got to see her grow up through Facetime," Danielle said. "They haven't got to hold her or do any of that stuff, so yeah Facetime is great but it's not the same as having the physical contact and seeing her in person."

But the trip home wasn't easy. 

Discussions to move to Canada began in March 2020 and the move was confirmed in October. Between then and their flight on May 9, the Bacligs had to apply to the Australian government to get an exemption that says they would be leaving for more than three months.

They also had to get Canadian citizenships for their kids. 

Their dog, Reggie, was the first to make it back at the end of March — he flew from Melbourne to Sydney and took a repatriation flight to Vancouver. 

In Vancouver, a company sent him to Toronto and a van drove him to Harrow. 

The Baclig family packed up their life in Australia to move back home during Ontario's third lockdown. (Submitted by Danielle Baclig)

Unfortunately, the journey back wasn't as seamless for the Bacligs, who had to fly from Melbourne to Sydney, then to Los Angeles, Dallas and finally Vancouver. 

Once in Canada, they spent $1,300 on a three-day hotel stay. With negative COVID-19 test results, the family flew to Toronto and then drove to Harrow. 

Though they've travelled back and forth between the two countries a number of times, Danielle said doing it all during COVID-19 made the journey much more difficult. 

"There were hardly any cafes or anything opened to get food, so that was a bit tricky," she said. "[Also] because of COVID, we had to take five flights instead of two so that was a lot ... I did take more precautions and brought lots of Lysol wipes with us and wiped down everywhere we went."

Lockdown in Australia versus Ontario

And while they're happy to be home, Danielle said they left a region that was essentially back to normal. 

"All the restaurants [in Melbourne] are back to almost capacity, all the shopping's open, you don't have to wear masks anymore, so that was what we left — pretty much normal, no cases," she said. 

But this lifestyle, she said, was the result of two strict lockdowns — one from March to June and another from mid-June to October. 

Danielle with Elea and Emiliano on the flight from Sydney, Australia, to Los Angeles. (Submitted by Danielle Baclig)

During these times, she said they could only leave for essential reasons, had to stay within a five-kilometre radius of their home and abide by an 8 p.m. curfew. 

"It was a lot different than lockdowns here," she said. "I mean we've spoken to family and it still feels like everybody can sort of travel around the province and still go shopping ... and we had none of that." 

For this reason, they said they don't think it'll be hard adjusting to the rules here. 

"I think things around here are more liberal, they're more free," Jason said. 

The Bacligs at the Melbourne Zoo after the first lockdown ended at the start of June 2020. (Submitted by Danielle Baclig)

The one big difference is the vaccine rollout, they said, adding that they both haven't had the shot yet. 

The Australian government is rolling the vaccine out at a slower pace, with the country currently targeting people 50 and older and front-line workers.

Starting a new chapter in Canada

According to the federal government, the family's quarantine started when they arrived in the country on May 9, so they are free to leave their home on May 23. 

Elea and Emiliano Baclig look out the window of their home in Harrow, Ont., on day 12 of their 14-day quarantine. (Submitted by Danielle Baclig)

During that time, Danielle says they've received calls nearly every day from the Canadian government checking in. 

As of now, they're still waiting for their belongings to arrive — most of it has been sitting in cargo containers in Australia since March — and are eager to show their kids the region. 

"We're looking forward to experiencing Essex County from a different perspective," Danielle said. "The last time we were here we were teenagers." 

"Especially getting [the kids] to see snow," Jason said. "They haven't seen snow yet so that will be cool." 

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now