Darwin, Australia

Distance: 0 miles
Time on bikes: 0 hours

The tension in the air this morning is palpable. We have an appointment at 10.30 am to meet Customs and Quarantine at the Port of Darwin to try and release the bikes.

After a quick breakfast we walk fifteen minutes to the Port, arriving slightly early at about 10.10 am. Apparently the Quarantine Officer is already here so we get signed in with security and walked down to the quarantine warehouse where we see the bikes for the first time. One of the things we’d been concerned about was whether the bikes would suffer any damage during transport, and sadly this turned out to be the case.

The bikes had been transported in a container, but some idiot at Perkins in Singapore had just lashed a single strap over both bikes and Béné’s bike had fallen over during transit and the top box was resting on the side of Carl’s pannier, with the other side of Carl’s bike pressed against the side of the container. Thankfully the damage was limited to the plastic on the top box being worn from contact with Carl’s bike and some friction marks from the strap. Thankfully nothing was so badly damaged that it wouldn’t function. There was another bike in the warehouse from France and this didn’t look so good as the top box was smashed, as was one of the side panels. We weren’t impressed with how they’ve handled the shipping, but this is sadly down to experience.

We quickly set to work as we’ve booked a thirty minute session with quarantine and this is costing us £65. We get told to empty absolutely everything out of the panniers and bags, including unwrapping absolutely everything and unpacking all clothes, sleeping bags, tent, walking boots. They want to see every single item we’re carrying and are being very scrupulous. Béné’s flip flops are rejected (forgot to give them a clean) as are her walking boots (these were cleaned, but there are still some very small signs of dirt on the soles).

This is tougher than we thought. All the spices and every food substance we have is checked and they look through very carefully for any signs of bugs.

Then we’re onto the bikes and the lady quickly points out some small bits of dirt underneath the bikes. We’d thoroughly cleaned them before shipping, but the quarantine lady basically wants them looking like new. There can’t be any dirt or grease anywhere visible on the bike. Thankfully there’s a wash bay on the wharf, so we wheel the bikes down and start to work getting rid of any dirt we can find on the bikes.

As we’ve now run out of time for our thirty minute session we need to book another appointment for 1.30 pm. This will give us ninety minutes to continue working on the bikes, but will cost us again for another appointment. After working for an hour, really trying to get everything off, we head back to the quarantine warehouse to get the mirrors and screens attached to the bikes and start trying to get everything packed away again which is spread out over the floor.

The time passes fast and before we know it the quarantine lady is back. Again she has a look around the bikes, but she’s still not happy that she can see traces of dirt which has been baked onto the engines. We tell her it won’t shift, but she basically infers that the bikes have to be cleaner to pass her inspection. We really want to get the bikes out, so we have no option but to head back to the wash bay and manage to get hold of some strong degreaser. We spend another hour down at the wash bay and the quarantine lady is on her hands and knees giving us a hand to try and get the bikes clean. She has a passion for things to be clean.

We’re having to keep a smile on our faces, but can’t believe how over the top she’s being with her inspection. When we arrived in the Country via the airport we could have brought in any kind of rubbish in our clothes or on our feet, but with a vehicle they are incredibly scrupulous. We knew they were difficult, but this appears impossible. Some of the guys working on the dock tell us that some people who bring cars into the country can spend weeks with the vehicle in quarantine before it is clean enough to enter the country.

After literally rubbing the skin off our fingers and having lost litres of water sweating in the heat, we seem to have met the required standard. There’s relief, but we need to pay for two hours of the quarantine officer’s time, which costs us £175. That was one expensive bike wash!

With everything packed and the quarantine papers issued to release the bikes, we’re ready to go. Unfortunately however, Customs haven’t updated the system to say that they’ve cleared the bikes so we risk them being locked up for the weekend as they want to lock and close for the weekend. Carl tries his best to buy some time, but is flatly refused. Thankfully, just as we’re about to be told to leave the bikes, the call comes through to say that Customs have done their bit.

We’re now out of the quarantine area and just have to sort the final paperwork with Perkins. The total shipping for both bikes has cost about £800, plus the quarantine charges. So although it was cheaper than airfreighting, Australia has turned out to be an expensive place to get the bikes in. We fill out a form for the damage that was caused to the bikes during transit and hope this can be resolved. There was incredible negligence on the part of the shipper when transporting the bikes, but thankfully they’re still in one piece.

It’s 4.20 pm when we get out, so we may still have just enough time to sort our registration and insurance of the bikes at the local Motor Vehicle Registry which is open until 5.30 pm. When we get there we have to get a ticket and wait in the queue until 4.45 pm to get seen. After an initial fob off, we manage to speak with a manager who tells us we first need to get an overseas vehicle inspection carried out.

Thankfully the test bays are still open next door so we run out and ask the guys if they can test the bikes for us. They are absolute stars and don’t mess around. The test is quite straight forward and just involves lights, indicators and horn and checking the VIN and engine numbers to register the bikes on their system. We had to quickly fix the rear light on Béné’s bike (it was amusing when a load of dirt fell out of the light fitting, which the quarantine lady must have missed) so that it can pass and thankfully they didn’t check the side stand switch, as we’ve not fitted the new part yet.

We make it into the office just in time to get seen again, but sadly the only thing we’re missing is a receipt from our hotel to confirm where we’re staying. Bugger, so close. They don’t open again until Monday, but as we’ve had the inspection completed, we can get the rest of the paperwork sorted out in Alice Springs on Monday or Tuesday.

It’s fantastic to be riding the bikes again after being without them for three weeks. We have a little tootle through Darwin and stop at a petrol station to get some air in the tyres as they are well down on pressure.

Back at the hotel we do the familiar procedure of oiling the chains (completely stripped of any oil during the cleaning process) and then crash in the pool for a relax and soak. We lie there for over half an hour before summoning the energy to head out to Woolworths to get some shopping in for a light dinner.

It’s been an incredibly tough day today, but we have the bikes and we can leave Darwin tomorrow to start our tour of Australia. First on the agenda is Humpty Doo!

Jour 271 – Vendredi 14 Janvier 2011. Darwin Australie.

Distance: 8 km – Temps à moto: 0.25 heures

C’est un grand jour : on va récupérer nos motos ce matin ! Enfin ! Pourvu que tout se passe bien !

On se lève vers 8h30, le temps de petit déjeuner et de prendre tous nos papiers de motos et de cargo et on part peu avant 10 heures en direction du port. On passe au bureau de Perkins, l’agent de cargo et on y arrive à 10h10. L’inspecteur de Quarantaine est déjà sur place. Nous sommes accompagnés dans la partie du port où sont nos motos et sommes contents de les voir. Malheureusement il y a eu un petit problème pendant le transport : les motos n’ont pas été sécurisées corectement et la mienne est tombée sur celle a Carl et ma boite grise est abimée et une des saccoches a Carl est un peu abimée…pas de bol, mais ca n’est rien de bien grave, on remplira les papiers pour essayer de nous faire payer, mais on n’est pas surs de recevoir quoi que ce soit.

La femme qui s’occupe de l’inspection de quarentaine nous demande de vider toutes nos affaires des sacoches et de tout étaler par terre, heureusement on a une bache pour ne pas tout mettre directement au sol qui est poussiéreux. On commence à tout débaler, et elle commence son inspection. Ca risque de prendre un moment comme elle a l’air de regarder tout en détails. Elle regarde nos motos, que nous pensons avoir bien nettoyées, et pas de bol, elle décide qu’elles ne sont pas assez propres : il reste des saletées et de la graisse tout en dessous de la chaine et sur le moteur, et il y a de la saleté dans l’amortisseur, elle me demande aussi de nettoyer les semelles de mes chaussures de marche et de mes sandales qui sont un peu sales. On emmène donc les motos et les chaussures a la baie de lavage ou on passe une heure a les nettoyer. Comme la femme a d’autres choses a faire et que nous n’avons payé qu’une demie heure, elle s’en va pendant le nettoyage et reviendra a une heure cette apres-midi.

Une fois qu’on pense que les motos sont propres, on retourne pour commencer a remballer nos affaires. Ca n’est pas facile car nous ne sortons jamais tout d’un coup, et il est difficile de tout remettre en place. Quand la dame de la quarentaine reviens, elle n’est toujours pas contente de l’état des motos, il y a encore de la graisse et un peu de saleté, cette fois-ci elle nous accompagne a la baie de nettoyage et elle nous ramène un produit dégraissant. Heureusement, le produit marche bien, on passe plus d’une heure a les nettoyer, et la dame nous donne un bon coup de main. Elle n’est pas contente que la saleté collée sur le moteur ne parte pas et on passe un bon moment a essayer de l’enlever, mais a la fin elle admet qu’il est trop difficile de nettoyer cette partie la et elle nous permet de sortir les motos de quarantaine.

Ilne nous manque qu’un papier pour pouvoir sortir les motos du port et malheureusement nous ne l’avons pas. Les gars du port sont sur le point de rentrer chez eux et n’ont pas envie d’attendre, mais nous avons de la chance et nous arrivons a contecter la personne qui doit faire le papier et qui leur dit qu’ils peuvent nous laisser partir. Ouf ! Pas de bol parre-contre car dès que nous sortons du hangars de quarantaine pour aller nous garer au bureau nous nous faisons doucher : une grosse averse de 2 minutes, juste au mauvais moment ! Le temps de passer au bureau pour payer la facture de cargo et nous sommes libres de partir.

La prochaine tâche est d’enregistrer les motos en Australie pour pouvoir prendre une assurance. Nous allons directement au bureau, et après avoir fait la queue un moment il nous envoient faire un contrôle technique. Il est 4h50 et ils ferment dans 10 minutes, mais il acceptent de faire le contrôle technique vite fait. C’est fait en 20 minutes et Carl va faire la queue dans le bureau pour essayer d’organiser l’assurance, ils ferment a 5h30 et c’est serré… peu aprèsje le rejoint et nous pensons que nous pourrons peut-etre le faire ce soir, ce qui serait idéal car si nous ne pouvons pas nous devront attendre lundi pour le faire.

Pas de bol : il nous manque une facture de l’hotel avec notre nom dessus, bref on ne peut pas le faire ce soir, mais il y a un bureau ou nous pouvons le faire a Alice spring ou nous serons dans quelques jours.

Nous sommes creuvés : il a fait très chaud  au port toute la journée et on ne s’est arrêtés que le temps de boire un peu d’eau quelques fois, bref nous allons directement a l’hotel, le temps de garer les motos, de graisser les chaines et de couvrir nos motos avec la bâche et nous allons directement nous plonger dans la piscine ou nous trempons un bon moment avant de nous motiver a sortir acheter de quoi manger pour ce soir.

Après une soupe, un avocat et un peu de fruits on est cuits et on va nous coucher. On se force a écrire le journal avant de nous endormir pour ne pas reprendre de retard, mais on a du mal a rester réveillés !