Across Continents

Ken's Blog


January 19th, 2011

Immigration. Passport control. Customs. Familiar terms for international travellers. In Australia add another. Quarantine. They’ve very protective of their unique eco-system. Keen to keep the likes of Foot and Mouth out. Or other bugs and nasties that could reek havoc with their agriculture. So, some pretty tough restrictions on what you can bring into the country. Intentionally or otherwise. And they enforce it. Strictly.

Seizure - web

Early morning at Sydney airport’s international arrivals. A long queue at Quarantine. And growing. But Emma, my trusty steed, and I weren’t in it. We were just contributing to it. There’d been hints from the plane’s Captain. Declare everything. Searches are thorough. Penalties for attempted evasion serious.

And I’d declared just about everything I could think of. First aid kit. Prescription medications. Dried milk powder. Emergency rations. True value of my kit. And Emma herself. Australia fearful of contaminated soil, mud or dirt inadvertently introducing spores or such like into the environment.

Inspecting officer Laura was very friendly, helpful. And very thorough. Professional. Tyres and boots inspected. Bags x-rayed. She explained that the milk powder could act as a carrier for Foot and Mouth so she’d have to seize it. Together with my emergency freeze-dried stew. No dried meat products permitted.

I’d forgotten to mention the tent. Not used for a while, cleaned and dried since its last outing. She’d spotted it on the scanner. I was a bit embarrassed and said so. An honest mistake. Been up for over twenty four hours. Hoped that as I’d been so massively up-front with everything else, she’d realise this was genuinely the case. Tent pegs quickly inspected for soil contamination. Clean. Checks complete. No stamp. Just a certificate. Notice of Seizure of Goods. For the items confiscated.

[Author’s note: If you’re entering Australia with a bicycle, or other outdoors equipment like a tent, make sure it is clean – no mud or soil. And declare absolutely everything on the card given to you before you land. Checks are very thorough. Did I mention the sniffer dogs that patrol? Well, they do. With handlers rather than in pairs]


Avoiding confusion…

January 2nd, 2011

Austamp - web

Conscious my brief "visa run" to Hong Kong, before arrival proper on Christmas Eve, had caused a bit of confusion. So, wishing to avoid a repeat, the story so far. Emma and I have made it to the northern reaches of Australia’s east coast. Town of Cairns. Via a twelve hour New Years Eve stop-over in Sydney. Hence photos of some familiar sights on the Gallery. Alas, we had to leave before the fireworks.

Opera - web

We’re planning to spend a bit of time in Cairns. Not least because it’ll take us about a week to catch up on Facebook messages, some very kind and generous offers of hospitality, and quite a bit more. And putting Emma, my trusty steed, back together. She’s in pieces on the floor. Very emotional. Then we’ll be heading south along the eastern seaboard towards Sydney. Crossing our third continent north to south.

Hong Kong was hectic. But great fun. A fascinating experience after mainland China. Lots of stories to follow. Visit to Outward Bound Hong Kong, a catching up with instructor Tom. We’d met back in Aberdovey, North Wales, eighteen months previously. More on my time with host Phil and his friends Iris and Fiona. My embarrassing efforts at playing cards. Then there’s Filipino house maids. Quite a bit of video as well. And, finally, getting into Australia. Through Quarantine.

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