Archive for May, 2011

A new adventure

Saying good bye to New Zealand made us feel pretty sad, but with our arrival in Sydney excitement took over. Our car was waiting for us and we couldn’t get to work on it soon enough. Pius, the previous owner of our Troopy, had the car perfectly customized to suit his needs. A separate side door, a huge 80ltr slide-out fridge/freezer in the back, a solar panel on the roof rack and a stainless steel water tank being just some of the smart alterations and accessories that make the car quite unique. We decided to add a full sized plywood floor, which allows us to store smaller items underneath and sturdy plastic boxes with our gear on top of it, a set up that had worked for us before. Because we will be travelling on unsealed, corrugated roads a lot, everything in the car has to be tied down properly to avoid damage and ear shattering noises. Table, chairs, cooker, gas bottles and our tent, they all have their spot and are secured with straps.

We were very lucky and were allowed to use the workshop and facilities of Travel Car Center in Sydney once more. Without the help and support of our friends at TCC we would not have been able to do many of the smaller and bigger alterations ourselves and have everything exactly as we wanted it to be. Many, many thanks again to the entire TCC-team! Have a look at their web site, if you are after a great rental vehicle for your Australia trip of a lifetime.

Working and organizing things kept us busy and we missed out on most of Sydney’s attractions. Twice we managed to catch a ferry from Manly to Circular Quay though and enjoyed the ride very much indeed. Coming out of one of the many bays and seeing the opera house and the harbor bridge from the water is spectacular every time. The city with its huge harbor and the northern and southern beaches has heaps to offer, whether you are a surf bum or interested in cultural activities.

And then a dream came true. Early one morning, Mike and his dad, having brought the boat down from Brisbane, were waiting for us in front of the workshop; the stunning little rig with the evil minnow vinyl wrap gleaming in the morning sun. Seeing our boat for the first time was awesome and a little bit like having Christmas and one’s birthday at the same time.

Getting it all done took us almost four weeks, but eventually, all the pieces fell into place. Plumber pipes – they make perfect rod tubes – take care of our rods in the car and rod holders in the rod locker in the boat will accommodate them when on the water. We got anchors, chains, ropes, fire extinguisher and a spare fuel tank for the boat, designed a lure retriever out of a telescopic pole and a piece of stainless steel rod (thanks for your help, Robert), bought tools, pots and cutlery and had the boat, trailer and car registered and insured. And finally the great, friendly guys from Protrim in Dee Why fitted a stone guard to the trailer to prevent the boat from getting damaged and made an additional cover for the electric motor in the bow. Boat and outboard came with a very stylish, perfectly tailored black canvas cover already. A clear plastic window, added to the roof rack cover and made by Protrim as well, enables the solar panel to charge the battery all day long.

What a great feeling to be on the road for the first time! Four weeks after arriving in Australia we are on our way up to the Blue Mountains. Our search for accommodation – staying in the tent by night   temperatures around 0°C and below not looking that inviting – led us to Dallas’ Megalong Valley cabins. The towering cliffs of the mountains in sight, the cabins make a great holiday getaway.

North again

All things come to an end, even the good ones. After having spent almost a year in New Zealand already, it’s time to travel north again; we have to catch a flight from Auckland in a couple of weeks. On the way up along the West coast the weather is deteriorating and we miss the breathtaking views along the coast.
Just after Haast, passing one of the many road works, an oncoming car is speeding and the stones from the rough surface are flying all over the place, giving us quite a fright and smashing our windscreen with a loud bang. In Nelson, we have the windscreen replaced and our car serviced.

Just before we leave the South Island, we get the exciting news that our car and our boat will both be waiting when we arrive in Sydney. In January, we started looking for a car and a small boat for our Australia trip. Thanks to our friends at Travel Car Centre in Sydney we came across a Toyota Landcruiser Troop Carrier and, after a bit of negotiation by phone and e-mail with Pius, its very friendly owner, we bought the car without having seen it. Getting a small boat without being in the country wasn’t much of a deal either. After having read many reviews in different fishing magazines, the two boats in our favor were the aluminum Quintrex Hornet Trophy and the composite 4.1 Steve Starling Signature CrossXCountry. The light yet strong construction of the CXC boat, the quiet ride it provides and the possibility of having many features customized to ones needs made us go for the rig from Brisbane. The slightly lower price and the fact, that the boat is built by a small company, being as important for our decision. Bill from CXC was great and thanks to his help and efforts everything worked out very well indeed.

Crossing Cook Strait on a brilliant day is always a pleasure and we enjoy the ferry trip very much, but not without a little bit of sadness in our hearts. But now is not the time to be sad; we are looking forward to meeting friends in Taihape and to doing some amazing fishing in the surrounding rivers. Martin, our friend, is guiding us and we enjoy two great days in the most beautiful country. We will definitely be back and explore the area much more.

The next day, a Saturday, Taihape is busy with people. The gumboot festival attracts a colorful crowd and gumboots throwing, dog barking, whip cracking, a wearable art contest and many other attractions entertain young and old.

Time is running fast now and we head for Auckland. Thanks to dear friends we have a safe place to store our car until we return to New Zealand and then it is time to say good bye. We had the most wonderful time in Aotearoa once more and hope to be back very soon. Many, many thanks to all our friends, we miss you a hell of a lot.

Australia, we are coming!