Monday, January 28, 2013

Cancel the homecoming?

Old Carnet
I'm back in Australia finally and will be travelling West from Darwin towards Broome, all I need now is my bike. The bike has landed at the port but I still don't have an updated carnet document. This means that I cannot bring the vehicle into the country without this document, I have no idea what to do, should I cancel the homecoming scheduled for next week, probably best idea.

I've been sending emails to government departments. All of the responses are not good. Most replies are not positive and I'm wondering if I'll ever get the bike released. I've heard of some people being stuck here for weeks whilst the government issue a "Vehicle Import Approval" or VIA" certificate for the bike.

But first chance I get, early morning I visit the shipping guys at Darwin port. Long story, but short version is, get in touch with customs agent, pay him to import and pay the duty charges, quarantine and the 10% GST on its current value. OK its a lot more expensive than I planned but lets try it. 24 hours later I get a call to say its cleared customs, just needs a quarantine inspection and I'm free, unfortunately, its Friday and earliest appointment available is Monday 11am. This means there is no way I can reach home for scheduled homecoming event by next week-end.

Whilst there, I met up with a Dutch guy who was in the same boat, no carnet document. His dilemma was slightly more exciting than mine as his was stolen from him at gunpoint in Dili East Timor along with everything he had in his bag. He was however, actually quite positive, happy to be alive and not caring about his situation.

I have in my bag, a letter of civic greeting from the Mayor of Perth in Scotland which I shall deliver to the Mayor of Perth Australia. This was to be an organised and official affair, and I have no choice but to delay for another week or so.

So I have all week-end to waste so spend a fair bit of it here at the local Irish pub talking rubbish.

Monday I'm with the quarantine inspector at a shed on the wharf. They open the door and I'm pleased to see the bike intact, some dust but that's it, no damage. The quarantine guy goes over the bike looking for dirt or traces of seeds or dust from alien countries, he runs his fingers under the mudguards, under the seat. He checks under the seat and is satisfied I've done a great job of cleaning the bike. I open the panniers where I've squeezed all my bike clothes and to my horror one has an incredible amount of mould growing all over my things. I'm thinking that this will almost certainly be a problem and I'll be stuck another few days whilst the bike is cleaned again. The quarantine inspector hands the mouldy contents to one of the customs agents and asks him to run a hose over it! Thats it! All good, sign some papers, stamp some documents and I can leave.

Freedom! Bike on Australian roads
I still don't believe how easy it's been and until I'm on the other side of the gate, I still won't. Thirty minutes later I return with some more paperwork, open up the warehouse, start the bike, ride suspiciously and slowly towards the gate with another bit of paper, show the guard, the gate lifts and I'm free!

Pleased as punch,  next day I'm off, first destination is Katherine, around 360 km South, from there I'll turn to the West and head for home.

A fairly easy day, stop for the night then head to Kununurra. This is when I learn one major thing. Always carry spare water with you. I have a 2 litre backpack Camelpak. This is exhausted in one hour and another hour later so am I.. I'm not exerting myself much but the hair dryer wind could dry even the wettest washing in 10 seconds. I'm 200 kms from anywhere and I've run out of water, the temperature hovers around 38 degrees C but in some regions where bush fires have blackened the surrounding bush, the air gets even hotter, almost unbearable. I'm starting to get a bit worried as I'd not seen any other vehicles for at least 30 minutes. There is no shade here either, the trees are too small to sit under so imagine my joy to see a sign to a 24 hour resting place ahead.
saved by a shelter
This place has a covered areas with tables and toilets. There is a water tank but a sign on the outside says that it's not suitable for drinking. Bugger! At least I can use it to wet my clothes in an attempt to cool down, so I pour the hot water over my T-shirt, inside of my helmet and over my head. This is just enough to get me to the next petrol station where I make sure I now have two water supplies, I even go as far to buy some biscuits as rations, just in case I get stuck.

forgot about crocs
I arrive into Kununurra a lot wiser than before. Yes, I've heard it several times about travel in remote areas, yes I know to take adequate supplies,  I know, but ignored for some stupid reason. Another thing you must not do, don't enter rivers on foot or by bike if they are known for crocodiles. Yes I did that too.

Next day Im in Halls Creek and have some drinkies with the local Aboriginal community.

Next: "Share us yer grog mate"

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