Ready, Set, Go – Arrival in Australia
Here we go – Goodbye Germany on April 11, 2018 – for the first time in my life I’m flying with a one-way-ticket. At the airport in Brisbane, of course, on arrival in Australia, I was asked why I don’t have a return ticket.
Especially because I was in the country for six weeks 6 months earlier. But after I explained my plans to the friendly border guards, entry was no longer a problem.
By the way, this flight was the shortest I ever made to Australia. It took only 20 hours to reach the other end of the world. First a 6 hour flight from Frankfurt to Abu Dhabi. And one hour later I boarded the 14h flight to Brisbane.
The transfer time was just enough to go to the toilet and find the new gate. On this flight I remembered my first trips to Sydney in 1986 and 1987. Back then, a flight to Australia took at least 26-30 hours. With two stops. One in India or Pakistan and the other in Singapore or Hong Kong.
To-dos in Brisbane upon arrival in Australia
Fortunately, jet lag was never a problem for me. I have often crossed many time zones by plane. But every time I was fit the next morning and adapted to the local time. Maybe because I try to stay up until the (early) evening on the day of arrival. And then to sleep through the night until (later) morning. So I was able start working on my to-do list the day after my arrival in Australia. The most important item on that list: Getting an Australian SIM card to be always online. Mostly to be able to use Google Maps to easily reach my destinations by car. The SIM card was quickly bought in a Telstra shop in a mall. I decided to go with Telstra since they provide the best coverage in Australia to my opinion.
My next to-do was opening a bank account with Commonwealth Bank right next door in that mall. This is not a problem either. Despite not having a permanent address it was no problem to open an account here – very impressive. The only thing I had to submit in a few days later when picking up my credit card was my German tax number. The advantage of having a local bank account with a local credit card is that it makes payments for the car, mechanic, etc. easier. And there are no credit card costs when paying in local currency. Because I had to pay the accommodation for the time in Australia. And in addition I wanted to buy a drone. The main reason, however, was that this account was used to deduct taxes for the car registered in Australia during my trip. In any case, I wanted to avoid questions from the authorities as to why these amounts come from a German account.
Time to pick up the Landcruiser
The basic structure of my local existence was in place. And so, in the afternoon after my arrival in Australia, I thought it was time to pick up my car from the parking garage. I walked from my motel to the parking garage where our Landcruiser had spent the last 6 months. It was still there, a little bit dusty, but undamaged. Unfortunately the owner didn’t expect me on that day according to the pickup slip. And the landcruiser was blocked in the middle of 30 other cars that needed to be moved first. The parking system was designed so that cars that had been picked up earlier were also closer to the exit.
In a different car parking than we dropped it off
Just one month after my son had parked the car and handed in the car key, there was still some confusion in November 2017. He received a text message that the parking garage in which he had parked his car had to close. Because the lease for the garage would not be extended. And what they should do with the car? We then called there and made it clear that we could not regulate anything here from Germany. And besides, the 6 months of parking fees have already been paid. So they should come up with a solution. Well, that’s what the car park operator did and put the vehicle into another car park nearby. I think the operators of the different garages know each other.
I was able to pick up my freed Toyota the next day though 🙂 And entered into the traffic of Brisbane. After all, the third largest city in Australia with around 2 million inhabitants. But it was Saturday and everything went surprisingly well – despite driving on the left. In general things seem to be more relaxed Down Under. Everybody seems pretty calm and patient on the road. So I made my way to Darra, a small town 30 km south of Brisbane, into a cheaper motel. By the way, I switched my cell phone to English this day. The directions and street names on Google Maps are otherwise not understandable in German.
In the first week I mainly planned, coordinated and took care of the necessary maintenance appointments for the car. The exhaust should still be repaired. That had been squeezed in Cape York when the car was bumping on the ground. And we had only bent it apart a bit with a screwdriver and pliers. In this condition I didn’t want to drive across different borders. Then Toyota should do another service including an oil change. The air conditioning system should be serviced as well at Bosch Service. And the bracket for the spare wheels at the rear should be tightened again where it was bought.
Finally, I wanted Novus Autoglass to have the windshield replaced. On the last day, before my son had parked the car in the parking garage, it had been hit by a large stone chip. But the employee said that an exchange is unnecessary, a repair is enough. And he was right. The windshield is still in there today (June 2020). And also passed the TÜV test (Technical Inspection Agency in Germany) when the car was registered in Germany.
Very unusual for me was, I had to take the landcruiser to separate places for all of that. In Australia does not one workshop everything. For each service, I had to find a specialized company on the internet. It should of course be easy to reach and if possible also have a bus stop nearby. In case the car had to stay there overnight.
Sightseeing in Brisbane
Despite all the coordination and appointments, there was still some time in the afternoons and evenings for sightseeing in the local areas and chats with room or tent neighbors at the camp site. Because in the meantime I pulled out my swag for three days on a tent site before the rain caught me. After all, winter was just around the corner in Brisbane in mid/late April.
In addition to downtown and the South Banks Parklands, one highlight was heading to Mount Coot-tha.
That’s the local hill here in “Brissie”. From there – especially after dark – you have a very nice view of the illuminated city at night. But I wanted to save further sightseeing until all pending questions were resolved and tasks were done.
After I arrived in Australia, I realized very quickly that I was not here for a vacation this time. But at the beginning of my second week here, a lot of my to-do list has been covered already. There were actually only two items on my to-do list left. The mentioned windshield repair and the purchase of a drone for nice aerial shots during the trip. The beautiful aerial photos and videos my son and I took on our trip to Cape York Trip convinced me to get one for the drive back home.
And new tasks again
Instead, new items were added on the list. Even before I left home, I had already thought about how to solve the insurance question for the car during my long trip to Germany. It was clear that it must have an Australian liability insurance. It is registered there. Otherwise I would not be able to cross the borders. It was also clear that I have to take out local liability insurance in evrey country. The so-called border insurance. This insurance is required in almost all countries in the world when entering by car. More on this later.
Car comprehensive insurance – yes or no?
But what about a comprehensive insurance? If the car is damaged or even stolen while driving. After all, my son had paid AUD 50,000 for it, EUR 38,000 at that time. But I haven’t found a proper comprehensive car insurance yet for the long drive. Neither German nor Australian companies could offer anything suitable so far. All the Australian insurance companies I asked about this told me, that there is not such a thing as an international comprehensive/damage insurance for vehicles registered in Australia. The only remaining option was to take out a policy with an international insurer such as Lloyds in London or Clements in the USA. But first of all, the insurance costs there are very high. And secondly, I’m not at all sure how they would handle a claim in Mongolia, for example. Would they pay at all?
I wasn’t quite comfortable with it, but in the end I drove without comprehensive insurance. Later that was also a reason why I mostly stayed in hotels or motels on the trip. Where I could park the car safely at night.
At the beginning of May, just three weeks after my arrival in Australia I have to hand over the car to the forwarding agency in Brisbane for shipping to Vladivostok. Until then, I would like to do some sightseeing. Unfortunately there is no time for longer tours. But I hope there is still some time left for sightseeing here around Brisbane. Today I have already found an Aldi branch in Brisbane at least 😉
Cheers, Rüdiger 😎