Friday, 8 August 2008

Tantalisingly close

Camping right on Teewah Beach, right beside the Pacific Ocean, it started to sink in just how close we are now to the end of the journey. New Zealand is only 2000km away now. We have been listening to Radio New Zealand on short wave, and even heard my home town of Warkworth mentioned in the news the other day (because of a landslip in The Dome).

The sand dunes at Teewah were a great camping spot, and luckily we had a bit more room for the drive out along the beach the next day, instead of just the single lane width above the lapping waves of the previous evening.

All of our focus was now turning to shipping the Land Rover to New Zealand. This included sorting out shipping details as well as preparing the vehicle for entry to New Zealand. We had begun contacting shipping companies a couple of weeks ago, but still needed to arrange loading. Most importantly we needed to get on with cleaning the vehicle, and there were numerous small repair jobs I needed to sort out. We spent our last two nights camping in a forest park an hour or so north of Brisbane and spent the whole day touching up paint and attending to small repairs.

From there it was only a short run to my uncle’s place on Bribie Island, where we are staying until we fly out next week. Helen and Uncle David have had their driveway taken over by the Land Rover, and we have used up all their rainwater cleaning the vehicle from bottom to top to bottom again, inside and out.

Uncle David’s workshop and years of experience as a mechanic have been put to good use fixing everything that needed fixing, including re-welding our leaking front diff. He’s a Ford and Jeep man through and through, but secretly knows his way around a Land Rover pretty well also.

The thorough cleaning carried out before shipping from South Africa and on arrival to Fremantle meant that this time ’round the job was ten times easier. After three full days the Land Rover is looking a million bucks again, and all the little (and some not so little) repairs are complete. Hopefully the vehicle is clean enough to satisfy the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry officials and the Land Transport Safety Authority entry certifiers. We’re both pretty nervous about those two steps to importing the land Rover to New Zealand.

Over the weekend we took a run into Brisbane and caught up with Dr John, a friend that Catkin worked with on the ski fields in Queenstown a few years ago. It was good to see him again, and he and his family kept us well entertained while feeding us pizza for dinner. John was off to Mongolia the next day for a few weeks, so we got to play travel agent and make all sorts of suggestions about things to see and do there.

Yesterday we packed the car into a container for the second time on the trip. We decided to try it with the roof tent still on, and it just fitted in (just!). After chocking the wheels and lashing it in, we closed the container doors and sealed it. Hopefully we will see the Land Rover again in ten days or so, all going well.

In the eight weeks since leaving Perth we have covered almost 12,000km in Australia, bringing our total for the trip so far to about 56,000km. Diesel prices have been the highest on record, and in some of the more remote places has been the most expensive we have had to buy anywhere on our whole trip so far. All this has lead to nearly half our total fuel costs being spent on less than a quarter of the total journey. Only now that we have finished the Australian leg of the journey have fuel prices started to come down.

Everyone has been eagerly anticipating the start of the Olympics, but this auspicious date 08.08.08 just happens to be my Mum’s birthday, so Happy Birthday Mum! Mum has been counting off the days until we get there - not long to go now.