I wrote up our experiences shipping in the travel planning sub forum. The biosecurity and safety requirements were definitely a challenge! I will post an abbreviated version in this thread in a few weeks.
Since we were already pretty close to Wilson’s Promontory National Park, we figured we would spend another day there. We only spent one day last time, so we gave it another try. We tried to do the walk to Squeaky Beach (a several km trek), but ended up there after only about 250 m. Oh well, at least we got to hear the sand squeak underneath our shoes.
That didn’t take any time at all, so we were able to check out the next walk: Lilly Pilly Circuit. This is a path through the forest leading to a gully where a micro-climate of rainforest exists. They have a unique crayfish there called the Lilly Pilly Burrowing Crayfish. This tiny crustacean builds an underground network of tunnels. Apparently they have been seen climbing trees as well!
Crayfish burrow and chimney.
On our way back, we saw a long snake.
This is what some eucalyptus gum looks like.
Walk concluded, we decided to head north out of the park.
Next and last stop before we had to head back and prep the van was Baw Baw National Park. For day one, we visited Mushroom Rocks, which is part of the Australian Alps Great Walk.
They didn’t really look like mushrooms to me, but they were fun to walk around.
A colorful moth!
The next day we decided to head up Mt St Gwinear Track.
Spotted grasshoppers, possibly in the process of mating.
They beautiful colors and striations of snow gums.
The single view out over the mountains and valleys.
We made a stop at the dam before we went back into Melbourne to prepare.
FUN FACT 1: In Australia, instead of mailboxes, they have letterboxes. They don’t pick up mail to be sent from these boxes, so there is no “flag.” Additionally, they don’t have a standard for these letterboxes. They can be any size and any distance from the road. The letterboxes are often very creative. We have seen everything from appliances (washers, driers, microwaves, etc.) to buckets to artistic sculptures of cows or people.
FUN FACT 2: Even before we arrived in Australia, we had heard of their “road trains.” Although spoken of with extreme caution, I was excited to see one. A movie that we watched implied that they were these extremely long semi with multiple trailers in tow. I wanted to see one in action! But, from the time we arrived in AUS, Jonathan and I were in argument about what defined a road train. I thought that being a train meant it needed to have at least 2, preferably 3 trailers to qualify (otherwise it is just a simple semi or tandem trailer). But Jonathan thought that it was just what they called their semi trucks/trailers. Well, sadly, he was correct. A road train consists of any length/combo of semi truck and trailer. And, their road trains are limited to a maximum length. So, the truck part looks a bit different than those in the US. They are taller (more often a cab-over) and not as long, so that they can fit more trailers behind them.
November 21st began our week-long preparations for shipping the van out of Australia and into New Zealand. Needless to say, this meant a lot of cleaning, which meant a lot of awkward positions for both us and the van.
Trying to clean under the van without breaking our backs.
Since NZ requires a safety inspection that won’t let cracks over a certain size pass on a windshield (windscreen here), we also had the windscreen replaced. Unfortunately, that meant we lost the 3M Crystalline clear tint we had on it, as it is illegal to install it here and no installer would do it. It will be missed as it blocks a lot of heat from entering the van.
We did the window in 2 steps, removal then installation, so Jonathan could repair under the seal and prevent future rust.
Everything inside and outside the van got scrubbed to remove any dirt and insect or plant matter.
This ended up being a bit more thorough then expected, as we forget to install the dash seal before we reinstalled the windshield, so the only way to put it back in was to take apart the dash.
On Monday, since our shipper didn’t pay attention to the words “carnet” and didn’t quote us for processing a carnet (and wanted to charge us and additional $225 for it), we had to make a trip to the customs office again to process it ourselves. We were told they now require 24 hours processing and that we would have to return the next morning. So, we made our way to our AirBnb apartment. After we arrived, we discovered that I had inadvertently booked a place without wifi, which wasn’t going to work for us. So, instead of being able to unload and unpack everything there, we would have to wait until the next place on the next day. At least we got all our washing done.
Fun moth-like creature in a parking lot.
With those 2 new developments on Monday, our Tuesday was going to be jam-packed. We had to finish cleaning and packing the van, go to pick up our carnet from near the airport, cross the city to drop off our luggage at the new AirBnB, find a car wash and then drive to the port to drop off our van.
Cleaning took a bit long, but carnet pickup went smoothly. On the way to our AirBnb, the truck in front of us very suddenly jerked left and hit the left side of a parked car. We were fine, but we stopped just long enough to make sure the driver was OK, then continued on. We were just thankful we and the van were fine and were reminded why you want to avoid street parking.
Finding a manual (wand) car wash is a strangely difficult thing to do. It is hard to google, as mostly only the full-service or automatic ones are advertised. Finally, we found one and Jonathan quickly gave the outside a final wash.
Lastly, we tried to find the drop-off point for the van. Somehow, what I saved in my calendar, wasn’t what my shipping agent had told me. All the signs seemed accurate, but it wasn’t lining up with all the rest of instructions, and my drop-off contacts weren’t answering their phones. So, upon further investigation, we realized my address didn’t match what the agent gave me. So, we went over there instead. Well, that location didn’t exist at all! By this time, it was already at the end of the drop-off window (before 1pm on each day). We still had another day available to drop it off, so at this point, it was just a matter of figuring out where I really needed to drop it off. So, I called her while I checked the locations’ websites. The agent wasn’t any help; she had never been there, nor had she directed anyone there before. The website said a completely different address, so we tried that. This looked like a success, but as we pulled up, we accidentally ended up in the line for the secure area and we didn’t see a way out. We pulled off to the side and waited until their was a gap in the line and went the wrong way down a one-way to get to the visitor’s car park. By that point, we had attracted the attention of people working there, and after a getting a scolding for performing an illegal maneuver, we were directed to a shack to get instructions.
Armed with our export paperwork, we visited the shack. The staff there helped us get in contact with the appropriate contact (after several failed attempts). Finally, we got someone on the line, and when we asked to verify the procedure and he found out that we were already there and parked in the car park, he said he would be out in 10 minutes to pick up the vehicle for us (saving us from having to take induction courses and drive it in ourselves). Sure enough, a bit later, we were met by him and handed over our keys. When he found out that we planned to walk to the nearest bus stop, he had his ride drive us there, which was a great help. Overall, very friendly and helpful and we didn’t have to come back the next day, even though we had arrived late.
Now, we just had to wait for the ship to depart on the 3rd. So, what would we do with our week without the van? Well, we needed to research and prepare for New Zealand still (I still had a large list of to-dos for that). Plus, there were a few locations to visit in town. Lastly, we planned to do some walking with packs to help prepare our bodies for the tramping in New Zealand.
We visited the Carlton Gardens.
And the Museum of Melbourne
Colorful birds on our walk.
The Melbourne skyline as the clouds increased and started to pour for 3 days straight.
Then, finally, on the 3rd of December, we saw that the ship set sail with our van on it. Then the next day, it was time to leave Australia and head to New Zealand.
FUN FACT: In the US, “trolley” refers to a street vehicle that normally runs on rails. Here, those vehicles are called “trams.” A “trolley” is what is referred to as a shopping cart in the US. “Pram” is a baby carriage.
FUN FACT: Most of Australian schools have a dress code. What is interesting is that while they have these nice and proper uniforms, the uniform includes these crew/ankle socks (climbs up the leg to just under the calf) that look ridiculous paired with shorts/skirts. It is used for both male and female attire and is common even into adulthood. I don’t personally understand this fashion, as it doesn’t look good on anyone. Perhaps there is some practical reason for these socks?