We arrived in Bundaberg at night, which made for an easy entrance with a well lit channel. Peter keeps reminding me its good to be back here!!
Back in the 'nanny state' where we have so many complex laws that they are difficult to interpret and are not being applied equitably. A bitter pill to swallow for me! The Ozone Gas Law is just one pathetic example. Being part of the Federal Government Environment department, the law is being applied in a very discriminatory manner, with no checks and balances. Basically they are obtaining money from yachties under false pretenses and have it written into their legislation that the Minister cannot intervene. What bunnies passed this law????????????
Yachts clearing and importing their yachts into Coffs Harbour and Sydney are all paying this. Yachts who meet the same criteria (ie have owned their yachts for more than 12 months and its for private use only) who clear in and import their yachts into Brisbane and Bundaberg (except for us..long story!!) do not have to pay this. Such a scam. As its a tax on refrigeration gas, they should be asking how long we have owned our fridge/freezer for...not how long we have owned the boat!! We have owned our fridge for 2 years and the boat for three...the essential question was never asked. If you are importing a yacht into Australia, you DO NOT have to pay the $400 application fee for Ozone.
However, this hurdle has to be dealt with before Customs can release the boat being imported. Customs.....well our experience there is something to behold...we were unlucky is the official statement. Customs made a mistake (a little more than that as there was preferential treatment happening which was so blatant) and we got caught up in it, costing us even more money than what we have to generally pay. However, there is one Customs officer who is working very hard to rectify our situation.
Its good to know that at least the international visitors have been treated exceptionally well by Customs.
We met a cruiser here that remembered us from Mazatlan, Mexico in 2010. What a memory he has!! He was worried that Australia was not a nice place to visit as he had heard that Customs give people a hard time and it is difficult to enter the country. No we said....all is well and he would be greeted with open arms and treated very well by our officials. (I bit my tongue when he reminded us of our advice to him as I did not want to shatter his illusion!) He was so happy when he saw us and thanked us for our good advice as he has now sailed in and out of Australia twice and has been treated very well by officials. Its good that it works for international visitors.....Many countries in the world recognise the economic value of cruisers to local communities.
AQIS/biosecurity has lost the plot. The guys at the coal face were wonderful and do a fantastic job....but once again the department has gone over the top. Sadly it seems that yachties here still have the stigma of being wealthy and of course having a lifestyle that we should not have. Some very embarrassed faces when we asked if this was the point of view that prevailed. So the 'usuer pays' system has a definite sting in its tail.
Whilst the 'user pays' system is OK in theory, its practice is a different story. In their infinite wisdom, AQIS charge $180/hour for one of their senior employees to supervise a gentleman with a pest control business to do a termite inspection. This business is the only one in Bundaberg that has been accepted by AQIS to undertake this compulsory inspection on Australian yachts, or those being imported, yet they do not trust them!! The business charges $385 for their inspection!! Its good to know that we have paid $600 to know for sure we do not have termites!!!
In Brisbane, there is a dog that can sniff termites and only costs $139 for this service in total. Peter asked AQIS if the dog needed supervision as well!! He also pointed out to AQIS that they are charging more than what it has cost a GP to undergo surgery on his leg to remove a skin cancer. It was quite an operation! Our government has lost sight of a lot of things, most of all the value of one's labour.
For any yachts coming into Australia next year, its worth checking AQIS re the requirements of termite inspections as it may be that you can save $400 depending where you clear in. We were advised that it costs around $1200 to get the dogs to come to Bundaberg to do the termite sniff. If that cost is shared between many yachts, its becomes affordable and a better option.
Enough. Peter keeps telling me to 'suck it up princess move on'!!
Good news for international passport holders..you can hire a car from Bundaberg to Brisbane Airport for $59. Aussie passport holders have to pay an extra $100 as a drop off fee!!! Queensland is really tuned in to looking after tourists. Good for them!
On returning to WA, we read in our state newspaper that WA is now the third wealthiest place to live in the world and Australia the 6th wealthiest. With decreasing medical and education services and increasing inefficiencies, complexity and costs of services (you know, getting less for more) it certainly does not feel like it!! What on earth has the government done with all the money it has made from mining royalties???? There is so much cash floating around that Rolls Royce are now opening up a showroom in Perth!
Our transformer died in Fiji so Peter has been making enquiries..Paul the local electrician came down and took a peek for us and the bottom line was that he is only licensed for 220V and not 110V. Furthermore, he cannot work on American yachts unless he re-wires the whole boat and take out all our superior wire. Why???? Because its the wrong colour Grommet!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So now we have to look at how we are going to get any electrical work done here. There must be a way to do this as I am sure American yachts must have had electrical work done on them here. Why would we want to replace good, superior wire to substandard wire to meet Australian Standards beats us!!
We need to get a new gas stove, which we want to do and expected to do and we are happy to go to the nth degree to have the best gas sniffer system on board. There is of course National regulations as well as State regulations and we have to comply to both. The WA State regulations are more elaborate that he National regulations. When Peter inquired about the gas laws here being over and above the National laws, the comment he got back from the public servant was that the rest of Australia got it wrong!!! Of course, each State has their own boat registration which is another hurdle to get around as opposed to over! Registering in our home port of Fremantle pops up a few issues when we have our boat interstate!!! Trick is to keep moving!
Having said all this, Bunderberg would have to be the most friendly town in Australia and we are certainly happy we cleared into there. We have had a few tradesmen come down to the boat saying that they will be there at 0700, and they turn up at the exact time. We have had endless lifts from others and the local IGA owner runs a courtesy bus for the area. Easy to go shopping!! So many locals have helped us out without a second thought. We are so looking forward to going back. (We are home in Perth for the summer.)
We have had anchors galvanized, paying not much more than we have done in Malaysia.....so now the pointy end looks as flash as a rat with a gold tooth!
Although not being rally people, the Port2Port Rally was worthwhile as it offered us a lot of assistance to get sorted before our haul out. Judy and Leslie were such troopers in pointing us in the right direction and Judy driving all of us around in the van was appreciated. Fred did a great job doing our radio scheds, which is a bonus if the weather turns nasty. Leslie and her band of helpers had organised enough social event for us to enjoy, but not too many to be OTT. Its a huge commitment by all those involved! We have no idea how they can do all this and manage to give us a refund for our Pratique. One tip for those yachts coming to Australia next year....do not approach the coast (within 300nm) with any strong winds from the south..wind against current stuff kicks up very, very nasty seas!!
Many of us enjoyed a two hour walk along the beach to Bagara to see the turtle nesting sites and were relieved when the bus came to pick us up for our return.
The boat is now on the hard. Easy haul out but the lifter bay could be a little troublesome in strong wind with current. It appears that Fraser Island just to the south stops bad weather coming from the south and deflect cyclones that are heading south out to sea. Here's hoping!!!!!!!!!!!
Peter is getting excited about the work on the boat he can now get done in Australia. He is a very happy chappie, already organising bits for the engine and of course the new Max prop!! Whey hey...no more motoring under 5 knots!! It will also give us another 1/2 to 3/4 boat speed when under sail. Peter has been busy sourcing a split coupling to resolve our worn shaft issue. We can get one made in Australia for a little under $400 and one made in the UK for under 100 pounds, including VAT. No guesses where we are buying it from! We worry about Australia's future as the bubble has to burst at some stage, although economists are expecting Australia to ride this wave for another 3 decades. Economically, in the long term we are going to shoot ourselves in the foot.
Meanwhile next week we are taking 7 grandchildren under 11 down south for the weekend (Peter's sister and husband are taking their 3) to buy xmas trees. Lots of fun but will we survive????
A long hot summer in Perth.....there is nowhere like it.