Arriving at Britz at 7:45 a.m. we found the place locked up. It was not only locked up, the parking lot was gated and there was no place to leave the luggage when we got out of the cab. The driver suggested that we go to a shopping center a block north of the Britz office. We found a bench near the mall entrance and piled our luggage there. Here we were homeless, we just needed to find a shopping cart for our possessions! I waited while Louise went inside to find a cup of coffee. When she returned I set off for the Britz office.
There were two agents working the desk and I was the third customer in the office. It took about ten minutes to get to the desk. After that, things went pretty smoothly. I selected a strong insurance policy as I had in New Zealand. The rental will last almost 80 days and involves traveling great distance on the left side of the road. Given these factors, I prefer to limit my liability rather than risk a large loss as a result of an accident. I discussed some of the problems we had with our campervan in New Zealand and they checked to make sure those things were addressed with this van. Then I got an orientation to the van. This one was similar but different in a number of ways. First, it was longer. There was a bench seat behind the driver’s seat and there were additional cabinets in the kitchen area as well as the rear. There is an air conditioner/heat pump unit in the roof, a higher ceiling and a TV! This caravan has dual tires and is geared much lower than the one we had in New Zealand.
After the orientation I went to the shopping center to pick up Louise and our luggage. I parked the van at the outer part of the parking lot and retrieved the luggage one or two bags at a time. When I got to the last bag Louise came with me to see our new home. She looked it over and approved so I guess we’ll keep it. Now we are ready to stock this van with groceries and other supplies. There was a Coles Supermarket in the mall so we went in to get our groceries. I checked at the desk and picked up a prepaid phone for $19 Australian. Later I would activate it but not on the internet. The Telstra web site is for Australian residents, it doesn’t work for international travelers. Fifteen minutes on a pay phone (yes they still have pay phones here) and we have a working phone in Australia.
Louise took her time and picked up the needed food items to get us started on our way. The cart was full to overflowing and the register tape could be used as a tail for a large kite! $220 Australian later we were ready to take on Australia in our caravan. We put an address in the GPS and we were on our way.
Our first destination is the home of a couple that we met in New Zealand. Ian and Debbie shared many interests with us and they invited us to come visit them in Melbourne when we got to Australia. We kept in touch by e-mail and everything was set. We were about ten minutes from their house and drove there to meet Ian. We parked the caravan in their driveway and plugged in. Debbie was working and we wouldn’t see her until the evening. Ian fixed lunch for us and brought out his maps to talk about our coming travels.
Debbie came home from work and we all settled around a table on the patio for more conversation. Debbie prepared a delicious dinner, a rack of lamb better than anything I’d ever had. After dinner we sat and talked for several hours before retiring for the night.