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December 21st, 2011 | Australasia

The Big Fella be Gone…!!

There has been a number of “comings and goings” over the past few days…!!

First Anton, Richard, Philip and their considerable broods left for Perth... The Rowville Chapter of the South African/ Australian Jeep Brigade were in for a long ride...!!

Three Jeeps, three trailers, thirteen people and a 3 60o km, four day drive to Perth…!! I think I’d rather receive a poke in the eye with a sharp stick…!! How many “Are we there yet…??” and “How much longer’s…” can a man take…??

I have made preliminary bookings at the Melbourne Sanatorium for Richard, Philip and Anton… Strait-jackets in their favourite colours will be waiting for them on their return….

Then this bloke in a funny red suit came and went...!!

And then I went to Southbank BMW to collect a crate for the Big Fella...

Yesterday, I took Richard’s Ute to Southbank BMW, where Darryl and Stefan had put aside a crate for me, encouraged no doubt by my good friend Ken, who has already crated his and Dariusz’s bikes in preparation for their flight to Santiago in mid-January…

I loaded the four pieces the crate comes in, grabbed as many free tie-down straps as I could, and then rode out to Tullamarine Airport to deliver the crate and make final arrangements to bring the Big Fella in…

I met Chris McCauley and Nick Kassis, who would be dealing with my shipment, and after a short discussion, it was agreed that today, the 20th, would be best to get the bike on it’s way to Chile…

Happy that I had chosen the right company to deal with, I went back to Rowville, to type my lucky number into as many ATM’s as possible, to try and get the A$3 500.00 it would be costing to catapult the bike across the Pacific Ocean to South America…!! I had to go to three separate banks in a very short space of time, to confuse the computers that kept a watchful eye on my daily limit…!!

With Australia being so far from the two continents to the west and east of it, shipment or air-freight from Melbourne is eye=wateringly expensive, but half the price I would have paid in Brisbane…!! In the end, I believe I have got the best deal possible at Freightnet International…

A liquid refreshment that is very close to the Australian heart...

I stayed up late last night packing and reloading the bike, then got up at 5.00 am to complete the job… By 7.00 am I was in the thick of Melbourne’s rush hour traffic, splitting lanes on the highway, and dragging a long line of other bikers behind me in the process… Lane splitting is frowned upon in these parts, but when other bikers saw me making a wide path between the cars with my big-arsed bike, they quickly tagged on behind me…

The Big Fella stands ready outside Freightnet International...

On arrival at the offices of Freightnet, the Big Fella took one look at the sign and groaned aloud… He doesn’t take kindly to being in cramped conditions, you see…!!

"So these are the girls in your life, eh...!!" asked the Dangerous Goods Inspector, as I lifted the lid and began removing some tools... "Yep, some of them.... My daughters, Roxanne and Robyn, my sister Charmaine, and my fiance, Patricia...!!" I answered...

The inspector from Dangerous Goods Management arrived shortly after I did and asked all the usual questions about the amount of petrol in the tank, whether or not I was carrying any aerosols and if I had anything else that might endanger an aircraft hidden in my panniers…

I confirmed that the tank was on reserve, and discovered that you were allowed up to a quarter of the fuel that the tank holds…!! Ken had gone to great lengths to empty their tanks, by removing them, taking photographs and getting a sworn statement stamped at the police station… All unnecessary as it turns out…!!

Once the inspector was satisfied that the Big Fella posed no risks to Australia’s Aviation Department, he gave me the go ahead to proceed with the dismantling of the bike and the loading of the crate… He would return later to ensure that everything was tied down properly before we shut the lid…

Chris and the inspector helped me push the bike onto the pallet and get the first few straps in position, before leaving me to continue on my own… I was thankful that with the BMW crate, there was no need to remove the front wheel, and within a few minutes I had the windscreen off and the handlebars loose enough to lie low across the tank…

Many more straps followed to hold the bike securely to the pallet, before I began placing my luggage in the empty spaces around the Big Fella… I wrapped the windscreen and my helmet in bubble-wrap and secured them to the bike with tape…

I double checked all the straps before calling for Chris and Nick to help me attach the sides of the crate…

Tightly packed and "ears" pinned back...!! My gear took up all the open spaces on the base of the pallet...!!

Windscreen and helmet secured to the bike with tape... Hopefully I'll find everything exactly where I left it when I open the crate in Santiago...!!

Just before we put the lid on, I reached forward and patted the seat, and in a loud voice that startled Nick and Chris, said,

“See you in Santiago…!! South America here we come…!!”

I neglected to mention that I was popping over to New Zealand for five or six days, which would mean a slightly longer stay in the crate than the Big Fella expected… Sometimes, like many other things in life, it is better to take the heat later, than argue about things first…!!

Nick Kassis and Chris McCauley of Freightnet International... Thanks for the help Guys...!!

Once we had tied the three straps that secured the lid to the rest of the crate, it was taken over to the scales to be weighed… The cardboard sides and lid of the crate made quite a difference to the weight, as the whole caboodle normally weighs between 450 and 475 kgs, depending on how many trees have gone into making the crate…!! The crate and bike together weighed in at 411 kgs, but due to the volume metric calculation methods, was charged at 435 kgs…

And in the large brown box, weighing in at a hefty 411 kgs, and not in the best of moods... The Beeeeeeeeeg Fellaaaaaaaaa....!!

Back in the office, I was delighted to discover two things…

Firstly, Australian Customs had already stamped the Carnet which I had left with Chris the day before, thereby saving me another trip out to their offices to collect it the following day, and secondly, Chris had called the airline LAN, and got a small concession regarding the weight calculations, which saved me about 70 kgs in charges…!!

"Australian Customs to Big Fella... You are cleared for Take off...!!" My Carnet has been stamped out of Australia... There would be no further rides in Australia, 22 072 km after arriving here and having spent less than three months on the road, we were finally done...!!

I thanked the Freighnet team for their brilliant service and then Nick drove me to a nearby shopping centre so that I could find a taxi to take me back to Rowville…

Within minutes of setting off in the taxi, driven by an Indian chap from Punjab, (who had shown huge pride when I told him that I had ridden my bike in India, followed by huge disappointment when I told him that I would never set foot or wheel in that country ever again), I fell fast asleep and was woken half an hour later by the gentle prodding of my right shoulder…

“Excuse me Mister, we have arrived at your address…!!” murmured the taxi driver, his voice seeming to come from a great distance away… For a second I thought I had been punished by the gods and sent back to Delhi, but thankfully the Goodwin’s flower beds began swimming into focus, and I finally realised where I was…!!

A strong cup of coffee has revived me somewhat, allowing me to write this short blog to try and keep recent developments as up to date as I can…

“What’s that…?? Speak up, I can’t hear you…!!…. Tasmania…?? Oh, give it a rest, will you…!! I’M WORKING ON IT…!!”

©GBWT 2011

2 comments to The Big Fella be Gone…!!

  • Tony Royle

    Always seems easier to depart a country than get in!

    How is it a bike is classed as Dangerous Goods?

    Enjoy time in NZ

    Cheers
    Tony

    PS. where is that Tasmanian write up……

  • Aaargh…!! Put a sock in it, Tony…!! Bloody internet signal where I am staying in Awkward…..er I mean Auckland, is a little patchy…!! R.

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