Jeez, doesnít a month fly past when youíre having fun? It really doesnít seem that long ago that I was getting onto the big tin crow in Boise (Idaho) and jetting off to Tahiti on my way back to Australia. The subject of Tahiti was covered on the last update, so Iíll cover the last leg of my move up to Townsville.
I got into Brisbane (the state capitol of Queensland, Australia) and surprisingly enough, as promised, my entire load of luggage was waiting for me. Not bad considering the amount of goís the airlines have had at trying to keep me and my undies apart.
Also awaiting my arrival was one of my best mates Philthy, who drove up the hour or so from his place on the New South Wales/Queensland border. Whenever Iím in his neck of the woods, I always stay a couple of days with him and his fine brood of mares & fillies – Jodi, Sianne, Kasey and Tayla. I really think he has me over to try and counter–balance all the pheromones with a bit of extra testosterone. Thatís just a theory mind you!!! ;-) Love atcha Jodi ;-)
Sunday I got a call from Frankie, who lives an hour north of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast, saying that her husband Big Ray was in town and sheís got some extra steaks on the barby. What more could a man want??? I hadnít seen Ray in donkeys, so off I trundle and we end up spending the evening bumping our gums on where weíve been, what weíve done and what weíre planning.
Prior to arriving in Australia, my plan was to buy a new or near new vehicle outright so that all I have to worry about, moneywise, is a house payment and living expenses. I had been on the web looking at vehicles and a couple caught my eye, so the first couple of days were spent taking a butchers (butchers hook – look) at several crew cab 4x4 utes (pick em up trucks for you Septics out there).
Let me tell you that there are lion tamers and lying bastards out there my friends and I ran into a few of the latter on my car search.
Fortunately for me, I found Ron on the Gold Coast who had just ordered a new ute and needed to offload his in order to make his deal happen. As is the case in any transaction in the world – cash has a language all of its own. I give him a gooseís neck (check) and he hands over the keys to a 2006 Nissan Navara (Frontier in the US) 4x4 Crew Cab ute with a 5 speed automatic and host of extras. He said he done well out of the deal and based on prices Iíd seen and were told by mates in the car game – I got a steal. Not often both parties have a win/win in a car deal.
Now the fun really begins!!!
I would never have guessed that being out of the country for 12 years would be such a pain in the arse. I went into the Queensland Transport offices to get the Navara registered in my name and fair dinkum, I could rocked up to their front door in a spaceship and got treated better.
In order for me to register and insure my vehicle I needed to have a Queensland license. In order to get a Queensland license I needed to prove that I live in Queensland. In order to prove that I live in Queensland I needed to have either a rental or house purchase agreement, utility bills in my name showing the address or a pay stub shows my address.
Iím staying with another one of my best mates Fluxy and his bride Sonia in Townsville some 1362 kilometers (850 miles) away and not having any utilities in my name or not even having a job – so the shiela on the counter is thinking 3 strikes and youíre a loser. Things werenít looking to flash until the supervisor said that they have a form I could fill out (donít all Government departments have a form for any and every eventuality???) and have the home owner state that I am in fact living there.
Great I thought.
Nope, weíre still in the shit as Fluxy was in Adelaide (South Australia) 3214 kilometers (2000 miles away) attending a business conference. Between the two of us, we got a hold of his bride and played "just the Fax maíam" until the keeper, of all forms – Government, was appeased. 5 ½ hours and $987.60 in fees, taxes and registration and I was on my way with the vehicle in my name.
Was I happy? You bet Aunt Mableís fannies apple I was. I kept thinking to myself that there was no way that these kinds of thing should be so hard. But bureaucracy is bureaucracy no matter where you are – it is controlled by bureaucrats after all!!!
Fluxy was flying into Brisbane the following evening so the plan was to drive together up to his place at the end of the week. Now, for any of you who have not travelled the highways & byways of Australia before, here is a big tip – the majority of roads are NOT fenced. At any particular moment, you can run into cattle, horses, kangaroos and depending on what part of the country you are in, you can expect to get real intimate with the areas local fauna as well. Discretion being the better part of valour meant that I spent the next 3 hours in the Robina (Queensland) offices of RACQ ensuring that I have full comprehensive insurance coverage for my vehicle.
The problem??? You guessed it – I was not in the system or could not prove any residency. A one way airfare back to Boise (Idaho) was looking to be a great option right about now.
Iíll give you the guff for naff all Ė that was a day totally wasted and one that I would never get back. Iíd been in my home country less than a week and was all set on going Jihad on pencil pushers. Where do they breed and can someone destroy the nest!!! ;-)
Friday saw Fluxy and myself bid fond farewells to Philthy and his fillies. Wow, where did all the Fís come from in that last sentence? Maybe there wasnít enough from the day before??? ;-)
Weíre headed up North about 3 hours to the coastal town of Bundaberg (Queensland), which locals know as simply "Bundy" which is famous for two reasons – (a) the home of Queenslanders cane cutters cordial aka Bundaberg Rum and (b) but more importantly itís the only place in the country that can keep Mad Mick Keegan contained.
I first met Mick Keegan when he was the major sponsor for my beloved Wests rugby league team back in Alice Springs. I started playing with the Westies boys in 1980 and Mick owned the XXXX and Swan brewery distributorships in town until he left in 1988. A great sponsorship arrangement youíd think – rugby players testing alcoholic beverages? ;-)
Mickís carved himself out an 80 hectare place about 60 kilometers outside Bundy with the bare essentials. There is no reticulated power or water but with a generator, solar collectors and battery storage, the necessities of life can be accommodated. Mick runs a few head of cattle to help offset the pension heís on and is very happy with his lot.
The next two days were spent with a beer in hand, a thought on the go and no real time frame to do it in. We rose with the sun and then helped put it to bed while all meals were prepared on the cooking fire. Basic living, which with a few touches for myself, I could happily continue on indefinitely.
I canít get away without reliving one of Mickís "moments". As we got to Mickís place, he was sitting at the front gate with an empty stubbie cooler (koozie) in his hand. As is the tradition in Australia, entry was dependant on filling said receptacle.
We get into Micks place and heís got the "Charlie Brown" (David Brown tractor) pulled apart in the workshop. Fluxy asks whatís he doing to it. Mick says he's been copping a bit if stick (Iíve cleaned the story up a tad as Mick would make any Navy blush with his vocabulary) from his mates as they all have "Dear Johnís" (John Deere tractors). Mick reckons heíll show the buggers and that morning he trundles of into Bundy and hit Big W (like a Walmart) and it just so happens that they have cans of spray paint on sale. He purchases 6 cans of "Dear John Jam" and heads home.
John Deere only ever paints it vehicles two colours – "Agricultural & Farming" is always green while "Mining & Earthmoving" is always a bright yellow. Micks ended up with the bright yellow for his farm tractor, no matter he says "Itíll show the bastards the Charlie Brown is now a Dear John".
Sitting down over the fire with a beer or three, Fluxy asks Mick "When was the last time anyone had seen the Charlie Brown – itís not like you drive it to town or anything".
Mick say "Probably never, but I can tell the buggers to piss off now". Just so that you know, if ever you happen past Micks tractor and are wondering on its pedigree, his is the rust coloured, busted arse, Mad Max looking contraption with the bloody big bright yellow air cleaner.
Two days was the total visit this time – ainít no use giving the liver and kidneys too much of a hammering so early in the piece. From Bundy we overnighted in Mackay (Queensland) before finishing our little drive in Fluxyís driveway.
The next update will cover some of the frustrations Iíve had in proving Iím living here, yup thereís more bureaucratic bullshit in my job search and house hunting endevours.
Stay Happy ;-)