'Welcome to Oz, that will be 250$ please.'

Fri 3 Oct 2008 22:01
Todays date 4th October 2008
Arrival date 3rd October
Arrival trip log; 14,239 miles from Fowey
Position: 24:45.67S 152:23.17E
'Plus I need to confiscate all this', said Quarantine Officer Aimie, indicating a good haul of dairy products including several big tins of powdered milk with expiry dates well into the next decade: '...risk of foot and mouth with anything Spanish on the Labels'. She also swiped my last packets of Cappuccini powder: same Colombian Spanish problem, and two pieces of wax wrapped Gouda cheese, because they have zero tolerance for cheese, butter and eggs. The rumour mill had forewarned me of this problem, but had been wrong (as is often the case with rumours) in important detail: I have been furiuosly eating up tinned meat, believing that this was what they would be after: I had offered up my last tin of 'Spam', like an apple for the teacher, to be told that tinned meat was no longer an issue!  At least they didn't inspect my bottom with a special camera, maybe I have already told you we had also been warned that the Authorities were worried about weed growth!!
So, Australia appears a very flat, possibly quite large Island, where the natives seem to have been entirely overrun by Caucasian female bureaucrats wearing shorts and hiking boots: it is not difficult to see why this new species has been so successful.
The trip over here has been quite interresting with variable wind and weather all along the route: indeed I have rope blisters on my hands from all the adjustments that I have been making! Recently we have found ourselves back in shipping lanes: quite scary for a single hander after the empty Ocean, and especially scary when a big container ship crept up on me one afternoon and passed me about half a mile off: Scary because my radar detector showed no sign of him. Cursing the Manufacturer, I settled down with the manuals to check for a malfunction, when it started to 'work' normally, and indeed another container ship appeared over the horizon. The first one didn't even have his radar on!! (they are required to, by maritime law).
This Coast  has a number of offlying dangers, including Breaksea Spit:dangerously shallow water fifty miles offshore. There is a tidal race here just like the races around the Channel Islands, and I was glad to have arrived here at slack water: from then on we were in shallow water, and I was looking out for whales. These are not (yet: this is Australia!) required to have radar, but I did hear some, having learnt what their song is like in Tonga. Hervey Bay is it turns out an excellent whale watching venue, and it is peak season just now.
We are several miles out of Town, at the mouth of the Burnett river, and I'm off to downtown Bundy now to buy an an airplane ticket home. I asked locals if I could walk there. 'Why would you want to walk anywhere?' said one lady. 'Anyway why risk a magpie attack', said her companion: 'they fly up from behind and attack the top of your head'. 'It's not so much the skull damage' said another, 'but with all the blood you can no longer see where you are going.' I'm taking the bus.
This is Fleck, signing off for now, standing by on channel 16, VHF.