LETTER from Eivind & Heidi____AUSTRALIA, October - Desember 2008
On our way up the river to Bundaberg Port Marina - AUSTRALIA.
Flooding is a well known word in Australia.
Our first meeting with one of the locals...
In the shallow waterways south of Bundaberg we have to studie the charts thoroughly!
Madeleine and Bror Bjurstrom.
The Big Farmer left, the apprentice boy right.
 
 
 

Australia – Terra Nullius
We arrived in Bundaberg and Australia after a nice five days sail from New Caledonia. The First Mate was maybe not as happy with the sailing as the Captain, since she got seasick. Heidi didn’t have any “morning sickness” before we left New Caledonia, but when we threw off for Australia in the pregnancy’s 4th month, it became obvious that the growing belly was going to make the sailing life not as good as usual…
We decided to arrive in Bundaberg, because roomers said the authorities in Bundaberg was friendly and that they didn’t make too much troubles for friendly innocent sailors arriving from overseas. Roomers said that in other cities it could be a lot of hassle to clear in through customs and quarantine. Luckily, our experience from arriving in Bundaberg turned out to be very good – except for the fee for quarantine clearance. 240AUS$ was a bit expensive for quarantine clearance to a country in the modern part of the world. Most places in first world counties small yachts pay next to nothing for services like this.
Our first impression of Australia via the mainly positive impression the authorities gave us, turned out to be only the beginning. As we learned to know Australia and the Australians, we liked the country and the people better and better.

Medicare
When we visited the Medicare office in Bundaberg to find out how we should approach the health services in accordance to the pregnancy, it turned out to be very easy. The woman behind the counter asked us to fill out a few documents and show our passports. Two weeks later the Reciprocal Medicare cards arrived in our Australian mailbox.
Norway and Australia has a health agreement, so most health expenses were covered through Medicare. Another positive surprise to us – both how lucky for us and how professionally this was managed through the “system”. Everywhere we went we met nice and service minded people – both among the officials and in the everyday life.
We also had good days in Bundaberg City. The marina in Bundaberg City is small and situated 15nm up the river, which can only be navigated at high tide. Also here we were overwhelmed by the hospitality and the friendly and smiling people - the people working at Bundaberg Midtown Marina, the people living in their boats at the marina and the people we met in town…
When we sailed from Bundaberg it was with a sudden doubt. Could it really be that friendly and hospitable people all over Australia? And yes – it can! More about that later.

On our way south
Our plan was to sail slowly south towards Sydney, to look for a nice place to stay for a while – as Heidi was hatching the egg. But we did not get that far south with Empire...
After visiting some smaller places south of Bundaberg, we arrived in Scarborough Marina outside Brisbane. If we didn’t find any better place on our way south, Scarborough seemed as a nice place to wait for the little one. Further south we also visited Southport, before we sailed out to sea (most of the sailing south of Brisbane had been in protected waters) towards Yamba.

The centre of the world - Cawongla

It was when we sailed around Cape Horn, that we two years earlier met Bror. Bror sailed as crew onboard the Swedish yacht Sawubona. Marja and Bosse were on a looong voyage – again – with their yacht Sawubona.
Bror is Finish, but he and his wife Madeleine (who is Swedish) settled in Australia 20 years ago. Even though we barely got to know Bror when we met around the tip of South America, Bror told us to “report in” when we came to Australia. Just after our arrival in Bundaberg Bror “threatened” to come and pick us up. “This is Australia”, Bror said, “500km is just like driving to the neighbour…” We thought it was better for all of us to postpone the visit until we got a bit closer to Cawongla.
When we came to Scarborough Marina it was time for a visit. Wegot on a bus and headed for Cawongla, Madeleine and Bror. A planed three day visit at the farm became a week. Bjørnar who visited us at this time quickly understood what we referred to when talking about “the Australian hospitality”. During our stay with Madeleine and Bror they took us sightseeing by car and they showed us a few possible marinas along the coast. Marinas that they thought might be suitable for us. One of these places was Yamba.

Get settled for a while
When we came to Yamba we knew that this could be the place to wait for the little one. Our intention still was to sail south to Sydney and then back to Yamba, unless we found an even better place on our way further south. But then Heidi got cold feet…
Heidi was now 6 months pregnant – and she still got very seasick as soon as we sailed from the dock. She didn’t feel comfortable sailing with the baby growing and getting seasick. If it ONLY had been seasickness without the pregnancy, it might been otherwise...
Until conception Yamba was the place, we decided. A picture of Empire in front of the famous Sydney Opera House had to wait - until our next looong voyage!
Before we made the decision final that Yamba was the place, we wanted to visit the hospital “nearby”. The nearest hospital with a maternity ward was Grafton Base Hospital, 1½ hours driving from Yamba.
When we arrived at the hospital for a visit, we had arranged for an appointment with the midwife. Also in Grafton Base Hospital we met friendly and helpful people – not only regularly nice people – but people that really care about! After the visit we were absolutely sure. Yamba was the place for Empire to receive the new crewmember!

Old man’s car
If you are going to “survive” in Australia for some time on shore, you MUST hava a car. The country is big and the distances are long. On of the bigger farms a bit inland is the size of the state of Texas, USA – just as an illustration. When we were small kids our parents often told us that “in USA everything is big” – but in Australia things may be even bigger.
We were lucky when we called on the only advertise in the newspaper, that was for a car that might suited us. Bruce that was in his 80th year picked us up in Grafton. He was about to sell his wife’s “almost new car”.
The car, a Ford Falcon, was already 15 years old but looked as it was almost new. Bruce knew how to take care of his cars. His wife Beryl had already a new car, but didn’t really want to sell her old car that she liked so much better. Even though it was a tear dripping farewell for Beryl to hand over the old car to us, we agreed on price – and even got friends for the rest of our stay in Australia. With a car of our own, we were now ready to explore some of Australia.

 
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