Location: 33° 33′ 25″ S, 115° 01′ 50″ E (Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia)
Distance from Sydney: 3,351 km
Here’s a free tip for all those planning to ship your car to Australia by container:
Don’t. Ship it to the moon instead. It’ll be easier.
When I shipped Magda to the UK she went via a roll-on roll-off (RoRo) vessel. I drove to the wharf in Australia, signed some papers, and left her at the side of the ship. In the UK, I arrived at the wharf in Southampton, signed a piece of paper, and they drove her out from a car park and handed her over.
But this is how it works bringing a container into Australia:
“We expect the ship to arrive on this date, however that may change. It will take up to two days to unload from the ship but sometimes it can take longer. Customs may select the container for XRay, but we have no way of telling whether they will. If they do, it can take up to 3 days for them to XRay, but sometimes it takes more than three days. Or less. Once XRay is done, we will move the container to a Quarantine yard, where Quarantine will inspect the car and decide if it clean enough. It may need more cleaning. They will then need to reinspect it. This can take between three and seven days. So in summary, this whole thing could take between 3 days and 2 weeks, we can’t possibly tell you, but if you don’t then pick up the vehicle within one day you will be charged daily for storage. And also all the dates in this email are a guide only and subject to change.”
Me: “How will they inspect it if I’ve got the keys?”
Them: “Oh my god you’ve got the keys?? Well you need to get back to Australia earlier then, to open the car at Quarantine, otherwise you will be charged daily for not releasing the container back to the shipping line”
Me: “Yes I’ve got the keys, the car is full of personal belongings”
Them: “Oh my god the car is full of belongings? They’ll need to inspect that too, there will probably be a charge for that but we cannot tell you what that charge might be or how long it will take.”
This is just a fraction of the correspondence that has been going backwards and forwards for the last four weeks, and I’ll write a separate block on overlanding tips in the next few weeks with details for those planning their own voyage. The good news? Yesterday, finally, after a week of inspections, cleaning, re-inspections, food destruction, paperwork and payments, Quarantine released Magda, a month to the day after she loaded into the container in Bangkok. Of the 24 borders we had crossed, this was without doubt the longest one to cross, but the final border crossing was done – we were back on Australian soil.
The past three weeks I’ve spent on the equator in Indonesia, diving in Sulawesi and Papua, some amazingly beautiful places. After following roads and highways for four and a half months, I found myself on islands that had no cars, scooters, or any form of transport other than boats and bicycles. I’d seen some fantastic sights well off the beaten track, giant Sailfish flashing past, packs of sharks crunching mouthfuls of fish in front of us, 8 giant manta rays flying through the water overhead. A lot of overlanders talk about needing a break from the travel, and it’s true. It can be hard work constantly dealing with navigation, roads, language, technical issues, etc.
But I love the freedom that having the car gives, ability to sleep anywhere, go anywhere, and not be dependent on anyone. SO I was keen to get hold of Magda again. And I was even more keen when I remembered what Australian prices were like. After getting grumpy in Laos if I had to pay more than 2 bucks for dinner, or 20 bucks for a hotel room in China, I nearly vomited when I landed in Perth, Western Australia.
But we’re on the road again, water tanks full, fridge loaded and food stocked. A few days to explore the wine region of Margaret River in West Australia’s south west, then we’ll head east across the Nullarbor Plain, and the longest stretch of straight road in the world. The last time the roof tent was used we were on the the Mongolia China border, ten weeks ago. Now surrounded by Gum Trees, with the Cicadas chirruping in the warmth, Mongolia feels like a long time ago.