Monthly Archives: March 2014

5 days in the Blue Mountains

We had been to a friend’s wedding and had some time to kill before we saw Eminem so thought we would head up to the Blue Mountains for a few days and do some camping (sleeping in our wagon) while we weren’t to far away from safety. Armed with only a Camp 6 book, an unpaid version of WikiCamps app and a temperamental Navman we were obviously going to have an interesting time we intelligently set off on a rainy day.

After a few hours stocking up at a local mall we made our way up and up and up. I couldn’t make any sense of the Camps6 book (I soon found out there were maps missing), the wikicamps app had a pin dropped in the middle of no where and the NavMan was being an a**e. We decided to check out a Free rest stop/camp area with hot showers as recommended by wikicamps users, there was just one problem…the app had two pins dropped at different locations and we ended up nose down a high hill leading to oblivion. It was terrifying and not what we needed in the dark and on our first night flying solo. Nevertheless we stressed and we moaned and we worried and miraculously we figured it out and found it. We chucked the stuff off the bed and hit the hay, we awoke to a cute little lake and a hot shower.

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You know on movies when something goes right and the person flings up their hands to the sky and a holy voice “AHHHHHHHH” erupts around them … it was kind of like that. We were alive and we would be clean. Great! So we set about making a coffee and sorting our new purchases into easily reachable and safely stored locations. I made a few modifications to the wagon and asked Anita to check the lights. She did and she did a good job. Such a good job that she left the things on and killed the battery. That elated feeling I had earlier was replaced with dread, a bit silly really considering we had bought a jump starter…but do you think either of us knew how to use it?!?

Not a chance! Anita disturbed an Aussie ranger on his lunch, it was something akin to trying to break a lion away from a gazelle. He was not happy. Nor was he happy when Anita refused to pick the jump starter up because she is afraid off batteries. We must have looked like the biggest fools, however, not entirely our fault. We looked at the instructions and they were confusing and the ranger knew what he was doing so we let him (everyone’s got to learn somehow, right?). So angry ranger gone, engine running and stuff packed to headed to our next destination…Jenolan Caves.

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Diving for 2 hours on a road so winding and narrow I couldn’t actually look down at some stage, the scenery of the hazy mountains was idyllic. We kept seeing signs for the caves but didn’t seem to be seeing much of anything else on the Jenolan Road and we were beginning to get a little worried because it was getting to late to turn back. Confused again we were silent then all of a sudden both of our jaws dropped into our laps as we drove through the grand archway of Jenolan Caves, a huge passage worn into the mountain by millions of years of running water. We were so exited to see the beautiful place. We parked up and booked a walking tour through the Temple of Baal cave to see the natural crystal formed in the chambers, the temperature 15.2 degrees was perfect. There is some really amazing crystal to be seen and a beautiful shawl called the Angel’s wing that really is spectacular.

We asked if there was somewhere we could stay overnight to do another tour the following morning, it just so happened they had a 2nd car park located up the hill with BBQ’s and a hot shower. All the tap water is natural cave water and perfect for drinking. Again we had been lucky. So we had a BBQ with a local friendly parrot, who seems to make quite the impression on visitors, and we slept. When we were ready the next morning we decided to move the car closer to the bathroom and do the hillside walk back down to the cave office to book another tour. We booked The Imperial Diamond which was a marvel of tunnels and chambers and the cave river that is stunning.

The moment we booked the tour the heavens opened. It was 11am and our tour was at 4pm and it was a 45 minute hike back to the car with Anita’s new camera. The rain was not letting up so we resided with some other visitors and dossed about the Grand Archway taking pictures (a lot of them) for a while. It wasn’t that bad just cold, we still enjoyed the day regardless and the site staff took pity on us and graciously gave us a lift back in the staff shuttle. We so we decided to stay near the bathroom and we settled down for the night, only to be woken by strange noises. Kangaroos, wombats and an unbelievbly loud thud. We couldn’t figure out what it was but it scared the crap out of us. We found out in the morning that due to the rain a tree had decided to uproot and park itself in our spot from the night before…again lucky.

We packed up and headed out to destination Wentworth Falls. We stopped on the way at Katoomba to do the general tourist shots of the 3 sisters, we went for a lovely hike at Leura Cascades and put Anita’s new camera through its paces. Finally hitting Wentworth Falls late in the afternoon … again. This late in the day arrival stuff just keeps happening to us, I think we are too easily distracted on the road or Anita drives really, REALLY slow. You can be the judge over the next few weeks.

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We headed part way down the falls and marvelled in their beauty and in the difficulty of the trek to the bottom, one that we were not willing to undertake at sundown. It was disappointing as we could have sat in the rock pools and viewed the falls from the bottom and we had to go back to the city the following day. So we walked a few smaller tracks and decided to stay in the carpark (not officially allowed but no one bothered us, because there was no one there). Waking up their early morning was something special, we took a few of the shortcut trails to take in the sights and the fresh air. Just us, before the tourists arrived to get their heads in your perfect view and spoil the silence with their chatter. To stand looking over the mountain range in silence taking it in with every sense was unique and definitely something I will not forget in a hurry.

This trip was fun, there was just one little detail…we had no signal and our favourite Sydney hostel (which we were booked into) had a secret gig there by the one and only GREEN DAY. We only got the text the morning after, the only word said…NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Beside that we had a blast and we are so excited for the next adventure.

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Categories: Australia | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Buying a car in Australia

We then decided a 4 wheel drive would be better than a camper, in case we get stuck or encounter many of Australia’s “chicken” playing native species.

We found a beauty on a search of good ol’ Gumtree. $xxxx for a 1989 Mitsubishi Pajero including full years rego, surf board, snorkel & fins, DVD player, cooking utensils, gas stove, tarp, solar shower, etc. It even had a double bed in the back because the seats had been ripped out. It was perfect.

We took a day trip to Bondi and asked the guy a few q’s, had a little look around and we were satisfied that aside from needing new wipers and tyres we were set. Anita offered him $500 less than the asking price, he accepted – we thought we were on to a winner. We checked the paper work, we had a vague idea of what we were looking at and we saw that there was a one year safety check – supposedly a pink slip. He kept hold of the rego paperwork to complete the necessary details…until his money went in.

Let’s just say we were a little naive and our research was obviously less than sufficient because we soon realized when we received our part of the paperwork that the car was not registered. More to the point it expired the day we bought it!

So it was time to panic, there’s no where to park where we work or live and we were sure to get a fine. We had 14 days to register the vehicle before we had to have further rigorous tests on it, so off to the RTA we went.

My advice to anyone travelling Australia and wanted to buy their own vehicle to do so is research before you start looking and then make informed decisions.

1 – Check the advertisement and take a screen shot if you can, because as soon as you buy it you can bet your but it will be removed from interwebland.

2 – Ask for the registration number, you can check the validity of any vehicle registration here.

3 – Check what you need to be legal:

  • Green Slip – This is your compulsory insurance to cover 3rd parties in the event of an accident. You can chose the level of cover to suit you, it is a legal requirement to complete re-registration of a vehicle. Be aware it does not cover you or your vehicle for driver caused damage or theft. For more information look here.
  • Vehicle Safety Check / e-safety check (formerly known as a Pink Slip) – This is a standard safety check for vehicles over 5 years old. It can only be completed at a registered station and an e-safety certificate will be issued to the governing authority. Where your vehicle does not pass or needs work on it you will be issued with a Repairs Required Notice (formerly a White Slip). These repairs must be made within 14 days of the notice if the vehicle is to be registered. For more info on Pink Slips look here.
  • Registration – This is similar to UK road tax and requirements and legislation changes between states as does the registering authority. For NSW when you have your Green and Pink slips confirmed  you can register here:

Roads and Maritime Service

My RTA

Requirements differ from state to state as does the documentation. Our vehicle is registered to NSW and the information here is primarily relevant for NSW, however, you must check the requirements if your vehicle is registered in NSW and then will expire in another state you may need a new safety check to register the vehicle in another state. If you need to register a vehicle before you set off on your trip plan ahead to where you expect you will be when your rego expires as you could be hit with unexpected costs to make your vehicle legal again. Don’t learn the hard way.

Categories: Australia, Travelling Tales & Tips | Leave a comment

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