Lost in Paradise and trapped in the Australian “system” after just three weeks…..
Forget about Sharks, snakes, crocs and spiders.. Turns out some beautiful white New Zealand beach sand and some dog hairs are a “High level” Biosecurity risk for Australian Customs and DAFF.
Looking forward visiting and exploring Australia had been on our bucket list for quit some years and after saving for a long time, we included a roundtrip through Australia in our journey around the world.
What was the plan? Travel from Amsterdam ( where we live) to New Zealand with both our own dog ( a 10 year old Dutch breed) and our own Oldskool Land Rover 110 to discover the other side of the world. Escaping the Dutch systems and rules, ready for some outback adventures, back to the beginning, thinking about having a family together and maybe “start over” in the lands of possibilities… So we thought…
After spending 4 months in New Zealand where we discovered we’re expecting a baby ( super exciting) and fighting all of New Zealands systems ( Customs, quarantine, hospitals, insurances, visa etc) we were ready for Australia! Ready to explore the oldest country in the world, in its very existence. Preparing our precious dog ( Bloodtests, custom declarations, medicines, flight etc) and preparing the next shipment of our car from Auckland to Brisbane wit Mainfreight ( papers, papers, Carnet de Passages, and of course a lot of expenses for god knows what) we finally made the cross to Brisbane. So happy!
Our dog was flying with us on the same airplane and we were able to collect him from Customs prior to our luggage! That looked great! A warm welcome sign at Brisbane airport ( welcome to Australia!) and now we had a week to wait before our car was arriving at Brisbane harbour. Renting a campervan we headed for the Gold Coast..
The free travel spirit soon got in a squeeze… No such thing as free camping, and certainly no such thing as pet-friendly Gold coast. Almost impossible to find a campsite where our dog was allowed and no beaches to have him run and feel free.. After all, we are in Australia! Back home, pets are allowed everywhere, from restaurants, campsites, hotels, public transports, airports,bars, shops, everywhere, it was disappointing to see there seems to be no such thing as pet-friendly travelling so far..
After spending a week in a rental van, staying at friendly Byron Bay on a easy going, hippy-like campsite we had to find a pet-friendly motel at Brisbane in order to wait the clearance of our car from Customs. Yes, the car made it to Australia!
The transporter “promised” we would be able to collect the car early that week, but first we had to pay of course a huge amount of money for their services.. But still, no car.. So, off to discover Brisbane! Walking of course, as dogs are not allowed in public transport.. And walking with a 10-year old dog at bright daylight is not to be recommended.
After chasing the transporter for our car, they do not seem to understand it is our home, our transportation, we got notified our car had been inspected by Australian customs and was helt in quarantine, as they had found “contaminated material” … ? We had to “sign” a misty document, declaring the car has to be cleaned, prior to release by customs. So, customs will clean the outside of our car as there seemed to be found some road-dirt? Well, fine. We signed the document and kept our fingers crossed..
2 days and several emails and phonically later.. we were told by Mainfreight they received “pictures” of the contaminated car and now, all of a sudden, our car has to be kept in quarantine longer as it is “High level” risk of Biosecurity…. Huh? All of a sudden?
We looked at the pictures and, to be honest, it made us laugh…. The pictures showed some road-dirt ( yes, it was raining like crazy when we dropped our car at Mainfreight Auckland..) , some old rust somewhere we store our fuel containers, and some old oil remains underneath the axle.. ( sorry, it is a LandRover from1979.. they rust a bit..) oh yeah, and what made it really “High level risky?” They found some hair from our dog behind the drivers-seat and they found some beautiful white New Zealand Beach sand right under the mats by the pedals… Of dear! Dangerous material! We should keep this car in quarantine longer and we need to clean this car really good… ?
So, after all regulations and after all the paperwork was done. Our dog has been tested over and over again, went in quarantine ( no, we are not Johnny Depp..) and we paid over $7.000 AUS Dollar to get our dog and car from New Zealand to Brisbane. And now, we are stuck in Brisbane, left to the Australian system.. No choice but to wait, it will probably cost a huge amount of money, but worst; our journey got off at a bad start. We are stuck in yet another system, and this one is even worse than back home in Amsterdam. What’s wrong with us being explorers and wanting to discover this side of the world and inhale new energy?
When we planned this trip, we were afraid of the sharks, crocs, spiders and snakes, the endless outback, the risk of getting stuck without fuel or water, the heat, but no.. It’s the system that we should be afraid of.. Companies like Mainfreight wo are here to make profit, but not thinking for us as travellers. They had the obligation of telling us we need to completely clean and “quarantine” our car before transporting it to Brisbane.. After all, it’s an Australasia’s company..
We are here for at least 3 months, spending all of our hard earned money, contributing Australia’s economy. And it starts with a discouraging system, a pet-unfriendly environment and people who are scared of the system… Not only we loose travelling time ( we are waiting for three weeks already) but we also loose a lot of money on Motels, cabs etc. Stuck in the system, “stuck” in beautiful and friendly Brisbane in a nice Motel where they do love dogs, and there is so little we can do..
It is impossible to get a hold of Bio Security and DAFF, “ Yes, the officer will call you back sir!” we heard about 3 days ago… and Mainfreight hides behind a big “ It is out of our control”.. ,
We thought this over and must say, the welcome the Australian people gave us is heart warming and truly great. But the System is putting us to our knees.. after just three weeks.. We can’t wait to
travel to the outback, simple life, no rules, free camping and away from the system.. We hope anyone who reads this will have some tips and maybe we are able to get this to DAFF and Biosecurity Customs department? We don’t know, but we are desperate and don’t know what to do anymore.. It makes us feel sad and brought us to tears, and it feels just so unfair.. Of course, it is “just” a car and we are lucky to be able to make this journey ( although we saved for it and worked for it very hard) , and we have the blessing of a newborn on it’s way and our dog who’s keeping us “in the moment” but we feel powerless and just had the need of getting this into the world..
Escaping the system? Not a chance.. Not even at the other side of the world..
Denise Schellinger, Jurjen de Lange and Joepie our “guide-dog”
Check https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blij-ei/847352901989418 for a little background info