A mum who says her ‘true love’ is Bali has visited the tourist hub more than 30 times in 23 years.
Sarah Neal, 40, from Darwin, first visited the Indonesian island when she was 17 years old after her mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Her family lived in Port Fairy, Victoria, where the community rallied behind them and funded the trip.
‘It was our last ever family holiday – Bali is a really special and significant spot to me,’ Sarah told FEMAIL.
The mum has since continued to go back with her family – taking three trips that cost $25,000 in 2022 alone.
Sarah Neal [pictured with her family], 40, from Darwin, first visited the Indonesian island when she was 17-years-old after her mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer
Sarah’s family has travelled all over Europe and North America – and even lived in the UK for a few years – but Bali remains close to their heart.
‘It’s not about the amount of times I’ve gone – I understand that people have been there more than me, this is just my story,’ Sarah said.
‘I was in Bali after our Year 12 exams with my girlfriends the day my mum passed,’ she revealed. ‘We’d only just landed and gotten to the motel when I got the call and had to go back.’
But the space is associated with dozens of fond memories for Sarah’s family, and she looks forward to the long weekends she spends in Bali.
The mum moved to Darwin a few years ago, which is only a two-and-a-half hour flight to the popular beach town Seminyak.
‘It’s a long weekend destination for us – and we spend Christmas and all significant birthdays there. We always fly Jetstar – they have the best prices and flight times.’
She recently celebrated her 40th birthday in Bali in 2022 – where she booked out a huge villa for her family and friends.
Sarah recently celebrated her 40th birthday in Bali in 2022 – where she booked out a huge villa for her family and friends
Sarah’s go-to spots in Seminyak
Family dining: Jackson Lily’s
Dessert: Fresco ice creamery
Beers and Football: The Goat
Fine dining: Merah Putih
Parents night out: Motel Mexicola
Family: Waterbom park, Bounce Bali
Girl’s Day: Glo Day Spa & Salon
Sarah’s family has set roots down in Indonesia – as her husband, David, plays AFL in the Bali Masters annually.
The mum also revealed that her daughters, aged 12 and 9, learn Indonesian as a foreign language at school.
The family do not engage in much active tourism and use their time on the island to relax after long months of running a strenuous building and renovation business in Darwin.
‘It’s nice to set our ‘Out of Office’ emails on and just relax,’ Sarah said. ‘We love the beach – the kids can just swim and paddleboard and we don’t have to worry about crocodiles or jellyfish.’
‘We meet friends and family there and it’s like a big, joint holiday. There’s just so much history for us.’
Sarah’s family has travelled all over Europe and North America – and even lived in the UK for a few years – but Bali remains close to their heart
The mum also revealed that the proximity to Darwin was a huge aspect.
‘It was six hours from Melbourne, but it’s so much closer and more accessible now – it’s very convenient for an international family holiday.’
Sarah recommends investing in travel insurance because you never know what could go wrong on a holiday.
‘My husband slipped in the shower and broke his arm,’ she recalled. ‘He had to have surgery – he’d split the skin open to the bone.’
‘It was 2007 and before Facebook, we had to call our family in Australia on flip phones to keep them updated.’
‘Especially with kids, it’s better to be safe than sorry.’
The mum also revealed that her daughters, aged 12 and 9, learn Indonesian as a foreign language at school
Jetstar Group CEO, Steph Tully, also said Bali is still the go-to destination for Australian travellers.
‘A lot has changed in the last 12 months, but one thing that hasn’t is Australians love of Bali and Jetstar’s commitment to offering great value low fares,’ Ms Tully said.
‘Demand for our flights to Bali is booming and we’re on track to carry 10 per cent more passengers between Australia and Bali in 2023 compared to 2019, as customers continue to prioritise travel post-COVID.’