Monday, 26 March 2012

Day 2 - Adelaide/Balgowan (Australia)

Thankyou to everyone who joined us at our send-off BBQ yesterday. Your presence was greatly appreciated, and to all those who couldn't make it, you missed a thoroughly enjoyable event.

We ended up making it to Green Lake Recreation Reserve last night after stopping in Ararat for dinner with my dad, who followed us for our first leg on his newly acquired motorbike. Unfortunately the only place open in Ararat on a Sunday evening is the RSL club, but fortunately they put on a great feed.

Despite spending most of today driving through 40 and 25 km/h speed limits in country SA, we eventually made it to Adelaide in the late afternoon. Ben and I dropped the Toms off in Adelaide to spend the evening with their friends, and we drove on to see our friends Cate and Ryan in the lovely town of Balgowan on the Yorke Peninsula.

But not before our first car trouble. Poor Trevor spluttered a bit whilst turning a corner in the CBD of Adelaide, and then just wouldn't start again. We saw the next twelve months of driving flash before our eyes, and then realised that we'd run out of LPG. Turns out the gage doesn't really work properly. We learnt it the hard way, but at least we learnt it.

Tomorrow we have a two hour drive back to Adelaide to pick up Tom and Tom before embarking on a sixteen or so hour drive to Alice Springs.

Because our shipping dates have changed, we have to be at the docks of Darwin by Friday morning. As a result, the Australia leg of our trip is sadly being cut quite short, and we have a couple of big days of driving coming up.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Progress Leader

So it turns out that we're actually interesting enough for the Progress Leader to take an interest in our adventure. We felt like proper celebrities today when we were interviewed and photographed by a real life journalist and photographer. If anybody would like to read what I'm sure will be a delightful review of us, look out for the Progress Leader in the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

For anybody who's not sure of where to go exactly on Sunday, hopefully my expertly starred map below will help...

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Great Success - Pakistani Visas

When sending off our passports and myriad of supporting documents to the Pakistani High Commission in Canberra on Thursday, we were really worried that considering they tell you it will take at least seven working days (not including mailing time on either end) to approve tourist visas, we had cut it too fine to our leaving date. We had even been considering detouring to Canberra as our first leg if need be. Then we were confronted with some worrying news on Monday morning when we found out that our passports were already back in Melbourne. Surely they wouldn't have them approved and sent back to us in only two working days?? The only other option would seem to be that they have taken one look and for whatever reason, denied us. It wasn't until Tuesday morning - a full twenty four hours of worrying later - that we were finally able to go to the post office and find out that in fact we all have Pakistani visas in our passports! So as it turns out, obtaining a Pakistani tourist visa for a driving trip is not overly difficult or time consuming at all. Either that, or we just got somebody in a really good mood.

Packing the car - Take one

Our first attempt at packing the car was on the agenda for yesterday. It was pretty successful in that we seem to be able to fit everything in - except things we forgot to actually bring to the packing session, such as our large eight-person tent that we plan on sleeping in every night for the next year. Amongst other discussion, we admired Denner's great job at installing a metal grid between the boot space and the back seat so that things don't topple onto our heads when we're driving. The whole evening was going swimmingly and we were just about to finish up and go inside for dinner, when Ben locked all the car doors - because that's what he does, without realising that Denner had left the keys in the ignition - because that's what he does. Suddenly the metal grid was no longer appreciated, as this was now the difference between being able to reach in from the boot, and not being able to reach in from the boot. Between Denner and I - the two daintier and more flexible members of our team - we tried various tools and devices and positions to reach the inside lock of the back door. We eventually succeeded, after much toil and strain, with scratches and wounds all over our arms, by poking long BBQ tongs through the gaps at the side of the grid. At least we know that the metal grid doubles up as a security device and we've learned that spare keys are more effective when distributed. Long BBQ tongs are now on our equipment list.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Carnet De Passage

We were able to collect our Carnet de Passage a couple of days ago. It's a very nice A4 booklet, most of which is pages and pages that will need to be stamped and torn and filed at various borders and countries.

The document is issued by the Australian Automobile Association and there are a few different ways of doing it. We chose an insurance system whereby we pay a premium in order to indemnify ourselves from the full cost (470% of the full car value). It was $950, of which $400 was the cost of the Carnet, $300 was the Insurance Premium and $250 a refundable deposit we get back on returning to Australia with a fully discharged Carnet booklet.

There was an awful lot of paper work, including registration documents for the vehicle that Victoria does not even usually issue. We also had to of course have the car evaluated by a reputable car dealer in order to calculate the fees. It's surprising how many car dealers don't want to be involved in such an activity.

Needless to say however, we got it sorted, we have the document and one more thing is ticked off the to do list.


For anyone who's interested in such things, here's copies of all the visas we have so far - Chinese, Indian and Nepalese.

India - I especially like how these ones actually have our photos on the visa.

China - these ones were a hassle to get, once we finally got them it was a huge relief.


Nepal - our first visa feat. And a very simple and quick one.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


For all you cool cats on facebook, we've now made a page on there where we will post any updates or additions to this blog. If you feel so inclined, check it out and hit like if you like us. If you don't like us, then I suppose you probably shouldn't click like.

Indian Visas Successly Obtained

And we now have Indian visas valid for multiple entries until the 8th of September. Pakistan is now the only one left for us to get before we leave.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Sir Trevor Toyota

With a mere twelve days until departure, we have now officially named our vehicle Trevor Winston Elroy Walter Katter Toyota. This is a very important milestone in each of our lives and has taken much discussion, laughter and of course, debate. A special thanks goes out to Steve Denner who proposed the chosen name of Trevor and, as it turns out, has actually been calling him this for some time. Acknowledgements go out to two of our currently owned cars that will be left behind in Melbourne; Elroy and Walter. You will not be forgotten.

In other news, Indian visas will be ready for collection tomorrow, at which point we will send our passports to Canberra for the Pakistani Embassy to hopefully put some visas in. Our fingers are crossed, and we would appreciate the crossing of fingers and other extremities from all of our kind supporters, that we get our passports back in time for our departure.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Chinese visas

The Chinese visa office is a sterile and impersonal room, with a ticket machine on arrival, then rows and rows of chairs lined up facing eight glassed in counters and a screen showing - in English and Chinese - which ticket is being served at each counter. The first time Ben went, he waited two hours in the queue just to have our applications denied for lack of bookings, itinerary etc. I then went a couple of days later to try again (this time with some extra paperwork), at which point I waited one and half hours to be seen. It's especially frustrating when all the parking is one hour meter - so you actually have to leave to move your car and might miss your appointment, as we both saw many people do. It was a great relief though, and completely worth the 40 minute wait just to collect and make the payment, when I was handed four Chinese visas, each valid for two entries within six months.

Our passports now lie in the hands of Indian officials. As long as this goes according to plan, Pakistan is the only visa left for us to apply for before leaving home.