Horsham students have finally arrived home after facing airport lockdowns and cancelled flights amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kylie Camilleri's 16-year-old daughter, Grace Camilleri, became stranded in Brescia - a city in Italy's northern region of Lombardy and one of the worst affected areas.
Grace was supposed to be on Rotary Youth Exchange in Italy until January 2021, but instead has spent the past four weeks in lockdown with her host family.
"We were told that the schools wouldn't be reopening in Italy until September... everything was changing so quickly and there was lots of different information coming through on what to do," Ms Camilleri said.
"She really wanted to come home. She is 16 and and she wasn't getting the experience she had hoped for."
Ms Camilleri said she had not been able to reschedule the original flight online and decided to book her own flights for Grace, which were repeatedly cancelled.
"By then I had to call her and say I can't get you on a flight home," she said.
With the rapidly-changing information from the Australian government, Ms Camilleri said she was worried it would close the borders.
"I didn't want her getting stranded halfway - she was a minor travelling on her own - and I couldn't go over and get her because of the level four travel bans here," she said.
"It has been an emotional roller coaster... I would get my hopes up and 30 seconds later the flight would be cancelled."
Ms Camilleri was able to book a flight without any cancellations - and after four airports and 38 hours of transit Grace arrived home Monday morning.
"I am very proud of her," Ms Camilleri said.
Horsham's Cecilia McDonald spent 12 hours on hold to Qantas trying to get her two daughters Jess and Steffi McDonald home from the United States.
Jess and Steffi were attending Blue Mountain College in Mississippi on a tennis scholarship.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak they were told classes and exams were online for the remainder of the semester.
Mrs McDonald called Qantas immediately and remained on hold for eight hours with no response and the line dropping out.
She then tried contacting Qantas through its online chat and after hours of waiting was told "there were no other staff that can assist with further queries".
"During that time I had another two phones on hold... I also had an earpiece in constantly," she said.
Mrs McDonald grew concerned when travel advice issued on March 17, by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said Australians should return home before the virus caused more borders to close.
Mrs McDonald wasn't able to change the original flights and decided to book additional tickets with Air New Zealand.
The McDonald sisters arrived safely in Melbourne Sunday morning.
"Qantas won't refund the flights and they won't reimburse us for the other flights... I am not sure if they didn't want to help or they haven't got the staff to help," she said.
"It has been really stressful. I am not a teary person but I have been close to tears the entire week."
The students who returned from Italy and the United States are self-isolating for 14 days.
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