Whilst the dogs were in quarantine in Melbourne we spent Easter in Christchurch, New Zealand visiting the Kiwi’s family. All the sad farewell’s in the UK were compensated with our first meeting of the Kiwi’s new grandson. The Kiwi visibly melted.
Easter Sunday was a lovely day, we had a delicious leg of lamb with Ma-in-law then went and visited the Kiwi’s 97 year old aunt. She was (sadly I have to say “was”) an amazing old lady with a huge twinkle in her eye, always busy baking and surrounded by a pack of small yappy dogs. We were so glad we made time to visit her as she passed away just a few days later.
Leaving Christchurch there were yet more goodbyes – could we take any more? The approach into Melbourne airport took an age and I was absolutely bursting for the loo. Once on the ground the Kiwi pushed me forwards down the aisle leaving him to cope with the hand luggage. Behind me was a young girl who was pushing and shoving everyone yelling that the old lady in front of me had taken her bag by mistake. When we got to the door of the plane I managed to tap the old lady on the shoulder and asked her to check her bag, I got a look at the girl behind me who had been pushing me so hard – she looked decidedly dishevelled. In my desperation for the nearest convenience I sped off and left them to it. It wasn’t until we got to the car hire depot that I discovered my purse was missing from my handbag – all my cards and money nicked, I’m guessing by the girl on the plane. Virgin were very unhelpful but I did manage to get all my cards stopped. Not a great start!
The next three days were spent carrying out some serious retail therapy getting ourselves kitted out for our new lives in the caravan and equipping ourselves with everything Daphne and Margot needed with new beds of the Aussie style hessian variety and large amounts of Kangaroo mince. K-Mart has become my second home.
Excitement about seeing our girls again was mounting and the day finally arrived. We left early and could see the vast, unforbidding expanse of concrete that was the quarantine station from miles away – it looked worse than somewhere you would expect crims to be locked up – our poor girls! It was surrounded by a high and impenetrable wire fence and an officious voice answered the buzzer on the gate “Security” – nothing like a “Good morning can I help you”. We were directed to another solid metal gate and had to wait ages for it to open. Another officious jobsworth greeted us and made us sign the girls release papers saying we had received our girls in good health and condition “but we haven’t even seen them yet, how do we know they’re OK and what if they aren’t?” Jobsworth grunted and said “sign here”. With no other choice we signed.
The cacophony of barking as we entered a huge concrete hanger was deafening. Trolleys with animal crates lined the walls and suddenly we saw our girls crates. We rushed over and the girls caught their first glimpse of us through the mesh – they went berserk! Jobsworth let them out and here’s a couple of videos of their first taste of freedom.
We were staying in a cabin at the “Shady Acres” caravan park in Ballarat – masses of gum trees providing said shade. But… Margot having been obsessed with squirrels in the UK has now transferred her allegiance to Possums!
One was up a gumtree right outside our door and taunted poor Margot all night! Both girls have now also discovered other forms of Australian wildlife including Wallabies.
The Kiwi is also doing well in the wildlife department. One day when he was turning on a tap at stand pipe and I saw the most humungous spider crawl up his leg and stopping for a rest on his bum. I’m not exaggerating it was the size of my palm, it was grey and hairy and we both screamed our heads off. Tarantula took fright and disappeared! Phew!
A few days later we collected our new Ute from Volkswagen. I’ve never had a new car before and I must admit there’s nothing like the new car smell. I wonder if you can buy it in air freshener form? The girls sitting in the back have now replaced it with “eau-de-dog”.
At last we picked up our caravan! This is to be our home for the months to come and we are just so pleased with it. I never thought I’d take to life as a pikey but I’ve embraced it like a duck in water.
Once suitably equipped we set off for our mammoth 3500km (2200 miles in real money) drive across Australia from Melbourne to Hyden, Western Australia where the Kiwi works on a farm. Somehow we never got bored or fed up on the journey. I downloaded several episodes of Desert Island Disks and kept the Kiwi topped up with Mentos mints. Listening to Kirsty Young’s guests and their choice of music was really quite surreal as we motored along the endless straight roads with nothing much on the horizon. The five day drive passed uneventfully, the girls slept contentedly on the back seat and kept us entertained by some serious bottom burps (a result of their new Kangaroo diet).
The scenery although repetitive was extraordinary. The Nullarbor was much greener than I had imagined with scrubby bushes covering the enormous expanses which were so huge you could almost see the curvature of the earth. Sunsets were just unbelievable and were celebrated them with some little bottles of champagne given to us by some friends in the UK, they even came complete with a stubby holder each, just perfect for the occasion.
We reached our destination safely and we’re now both working, the Kiwi on a huge blue tractor and me at the Wave Rock Hotel learning huge amounts about the hospitality trade.