Canberra and Brisbane, Australia Week 157 - 164 April 3rd - May 17th 2014
To while away the time we watched the building site next door.

A well organised concrete pour.

The ro-ro boat suggested by our Aus  shipping agent wasn't going to happen. They don't like motorhomes.

A problem with pilfering apparently.

Even though ours has no access to rear from cab and is secure.

So prepare for container.

This is almost the scene that will greet the AQIS (Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service).

Sides stowed, just the last 300 mm to lower the roof.

The tarpaulin is necessary because the sides are bowed a bit so the seals don't meet.

An artefact of the sub-frame failure in Mongolia.

Once in Aus the sub-frame will require removal for repair / rebuild. I'm guessing a couple of months leisurely work. When I've figured out how and life is relatively stable!

Not ours.

But it could be.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is a favourite film.

We discused loading the container with the shipping company guy who would load it.

Thus we were free to climb on a plane.

A slight hiccough as the photos provided of packing showed the front secured through the bumper.

Hasty emails and redone to axle.

We've been following the search for Malaysian Airlines MH370 which went missing.

We are confident "lightning never strikes in the same place twice".

Kuala Lumpur is closer to Beijing than to Brisbane.

Crossing the coast of Australia. 

We think somewhere south west of Derby.

A glimpse of the Kimberley Coast.

We're not very good at geology or geomorphology from the air.

But it looked interesting.

These dunes are straight and parallel.

Unlike the lenticular dunes of Morocco and other parts we've seen.

The rivers and lakes must have formed later.

But its an arid landscape.

Once it was dark on the ground we had to watch the wing.

And confirm that the world is round. Or at least a bit curved!

We only went halfway round.

But then we've come all the way back.

About 100,000 km driving in three years. Less than lots of people commute.

And so to familiar things in Canberra.

Re-aquaint ourselves with two daughters and re-possess our car.

Plus bonus introduction to Rachael's boy friend James plus family and Jennifer's fiance Kyle.

Much help from James to change the fan belt which broke after a couple of days. My arms wouldn't have stretched far enough.

By-passed starter part of ignition switch which refused another couple of days later.

The frustrating flat battery starting problem which had plagued Jennifer, and stumped mechanics, I eventually solved in Brisbane by replacing glow plugs.

A day trip to Namadji National Park and a walk in the Orroral Valley with Rachael.

Eastern Grey kangaroos.

The frozen shoulder pain is now diagnosed as the more general, and unrelated, polymyalgia rheumatica. Posh name for big muscle rheumatism. Thoughtful Canberra diagnosis agreed by Brisbane doctor.

Not only does it explain the pain in both arms and swollen hand but also the shortened painful stride in Nepal and India and difficulty getting in and out of truck cab..

It usually runs its course in about 18 months so hopefully there's less than 12 months left. Not a life sentence.

Treatment is steroid tablets. Minimum to manage pain. I'm reasonably functional again but still limited arm raising. Not enjoying the side effects though.

The steroids mean I feel a bit like superman.
Its strange being in a familiar place.

Three years of travels to far off lands seem almost like a dream.

After a couple of weeks we set off north to Brisbane.

Past Lake George, which isn't a lake at all.

The 1200 km to Brisbane is mostly on roads like this at 100 km/hr.

We took the coast road.

Stopped the night at Camden Haven.

Enough time for a walk to see the sea.

And say hello to the pelicans.
Unfortunately the takeaway chippie was closed because of an iron man race.

Hoping for fish and chips we had to settle for a pizza.


Thought I'd test the oven.

A chocolate mud cake with ganache topping.

House has been kept well. Garden a bit overgrown but grass has grown where there was none after the flood.

A few electrical appliances to replace (obsolete and dead after flood) and a few things to repair.

Three out of four desktop computers failed to start. The dishwasher doesn't drain. The mulcher was flooded. The tuner doesn't tune. The freezer seal has perished. The gutters and roof have lots of twigs and leaves. Bought a water blaster for decks, drive, paths, fences, walls, roof, car, and anything else that gets in the way.

Quite busy really. But nothing critical and parts available. Its a very different list and approach to keeping the truck moving. Room to take things to pieces and leave them that way until repaired. We are stationery.

The ship docked on the 6th of May at Fisherman's Island.

When the truck's satellite trackers showed it was out of the container I waited an appropriate time for contact then phoned the shipping agent. One of those conversations that give others a surprise and me some mild amusement.

Not really happy I wasn't present for unpacking.

The person at the agency I'd been dealing with was away, no handover. A bit more unhappy.

Explained that it would definitely need cleaning and that I would probably need to raise the roof for AQIS inspection inside - no, the cleaning people can't do it.

Frustrating that it took a few attempts to get that message across.

No, I can't drop everything and drive 75km to raise the roof this afternoon. It takes a few hours and I don't want to rush and have an accident.

So I turned up at 07:00 next morning, raised the roof sufficiently by about 08:30, AQIS inspected inside and we discussed my chlorine treatment of water system and loo plus a few other questions about tents (none) and food (none) and fridge (empty and wiped with chlorine). All good in about 5 minutes. Put the roof back down, fixed mirrors and exhaust.

Presentation is everything apparently, and being there, being helpful, seemed to help. Much better than the notes I thought of leaving. Pleased its not another AQIS horror story for the internet. Perhaps just lucky! Or maybe we've had some practice crossing borders!

The cab cleaning in KL was sufficient. No need to dismantle dashboard as I thought possibly necessary to remove the hidden dust.

Underside cleaning finished the same day, re-inspection following morning and I could drive it home.

We aren't sure about settling to wherever and whatever life leads us next. We have no real plans, but plenty of projects.

Ali plays the piano every so often during the day. As if we haven't been away.

The colony of lorikeets is still in the big tree to wake us in the mornings. They are still visited by corellas and white cockatoos. Its a bit like a town square. We haven't seen the owl family yet. Nor the family of tawny frogmouths that has reputedly taken up residence in the front garden.

The supermarket shelves haven't been re-arranged. Our wholesale butcher and greengrocer haven't closed and food prices haven't changed much. Nevertheless, the choice is a bit staggering.

Almost as if we haven't been away!

And Tim Tams are on special.

There have been many people who helped us along the way, the sort of priceless support we needed at just the right moments. At times we struggled but there were always solutions. Without the support it would have been even harder, and possibly impossible. Long distance, long term, independent travel presents a few interesting problems.

Thanks for blog comments and encouragement. Apologies for not really responding, the blog was written along the way and uploaded when possible.

Of course thanks to Kirsty for the Scottish wedding invite that provided a reason for setting off. Much better sounding than "because its there".

The $64,000 question - would we do it again? The answer is no, we've done it once, we'll probably travel somewhere else. We've really only scratched the surface of a very small part of the world and barely started on Australia.

And the best place was of course wherever we were at the time. Its all interesting. Though we seem to talk a bit more about Mongolia and Morocco than most other places.

Quietly pleased with ourselves. We did what we set out to achieve.


Ian & Jan Mon, 26 May 14 16:36:44 +1000
Well Folks after meeting up with you in Morocco it is not surprising that it is one of the places that keeps springing to mind, however you have kept us enthralled with all the places you have been through while the adventures of getting there have been fantastic, so 'Thank You' for taking the time to share this long, adventurous and thrilling journey with us it has been truly fabulous, while we also hope that the medical problem that you encountered in the last few weeks clear up completely.
Best wishes
Ian & Jan

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