24th - 29th April 2005
Alexis and Greg left Bali leaving Adriano to go and explore the flowing lava covered volcanoes, underground palatial mosques and chilled artist communities of Java, whilst they resolved the small issue of getting the Beast off the boat and into Australia.
The Beast was to arrive into Australia on the Thursday 27th April on the Arafura Endeavour, the 10 day crossing from Singapore complete. She had been strapped down on the deck and we had no assurance from the shipping company that she would actually arrive, we even had to sign a disclaimer saying that if we lost her overboard it wasn?t their responsibility. So 10 days of panic were soon to be finished and we had to make all the necessary arrangements to get her on the road again.
Greg and Alexis arrived in Darwin to make sure that we were ready to roll as soon as the Beast arrived ? time being a factor with impending family and friends weddings back in the UK. We have to make it down to Sydney, find somewhere to park the Beast and then fly back to the UK, earn some money then come back.
The border crossings we have encountered so far have not been as stringent and as little explained as the Australian one. Luckily we had done some research before we arrived so we k new vaguely in which directions we needed to be aiming. Before the Beast arrived we needed to get our carnet stamped, arrange for customs and quarantine to meet us and give us the ok for the release of the Beast, go to the MVR and get the equivalent of an MoT (road test) done and get insurance.
Alexis and Greg staggered off the aeroplane at 7 am into Darwin after flying over one of the most sparsely populated but best known towns in the world. Darwin has a tiny population of only 100,000 people which drops by 15,000 people in the wet season as people head towards the sun and a drier atmosphere. Temperatures in the wet season soar and the atmosphere gets very sticky. Darwin has suffered badly over the past since it was established in 1869. The Japanese carried out mass bombings of Darwin in 1942 and over 30,000 people were evacuated from the city. When Cyclone Tracy hit in 1973 it completely wiped out most of the buildings in the town, leaving a new ?70s town in its place with faceless grey and white buildings. The World War II air raid shelters and tunnels are still in place and can be visited but Greg and Alexis indulged themselves in the Deckchair Cinema, an open air cinema, looking out onto the bay and lounging on deckchairs you can enjoy
Releasing the Beast involved visiting the AA, the customs office 5 times, arranging for customs to visit the Beast to stamp our carnet and traipsing around to find out where we needed to get insurance. Not as easy as it looks. It is not necessary to have motor vehicle insurance in Australia but you must have personal liability insurance in case you injure someone.
From the port we had to go up to the MVR (Motor Vehicle Registration) offices in order to get the Beast registered on Australian soil. We passed through town but Greg having not driven for a few days took a right corner too tightly, unfortunately right in front of a policeman. Greg got out and showed her all his documentation, explained where we were going and where we were heading afterward??I am going to the Motor Vehicle Registration place and then I am going to head south and go and explore your bush?? she didn?t even blush!
At our arrival at the MVR we had to wait for an hour to have a complete car test and unfortunately failed on our windscreen wipers not working, leaking seal from the front wheels and one of our rear lights wasn?t working ? all easily resolvable stuff but unfortunately they couldn?t give us a roadworthiness. So the resolution reached was to have a 7 day pass to get through the Northern Territory to Queensland. We would then need to get a new test done in Queensland or another 7 day pass. A pain in the bum but we had a schedule to work to so we had to plough across the country anyway.
Notes about Australia:
- The population of Australia is 20 million.
- The capital of Australia is Canberra, not Sydney or Melbourne as many think. Canberra is a purpose built capital of 300,000 people.
- If you want to visit an aboriginal town you must request permission from the Aboriginal council.
- The polite term for people of the ?drunk unseen type? in the Northern Territories is Long Grass people.