Tuesday, January 01, 2013


Melbourne was the end of the line for me as far as my Australian adventures were concerned. Nevertheless I still had a crucial job to do: sell the car. Having never owned a car I had assumed that this would simply involve placing an add online or in a hostel and then just sit and wait for the deluge of offers. Sadly it wasn't to be. Posting the ads proved to be quite straightforward. Online was naturally easy and took just a matter of minutes whereas with the hostels I had to print out flyers and individually put them up in each hostel.

Although I had been to Melbourne before and my car shenanigans, I still took the time to do a little sightseeing, such as visiting the Royal Exhibition Hall, the only extant world exhibition building from the 19th century.

It took a few days before I got a response and the prospective buyer asked me whether I had the RWC. The what? The roadworthy certificate. Apparently whenever a car is sold second hand in Australia it must undergo a certified inspection to ensure that it is not going to explode within minutes of changing hands. I, obviously, didn't realise the need for it. It being Christmas no garages were open and I had to wait until after Boxing Day, and a good number of phone calls, to find a mechanic who would do the inspection for me that day. Having bought the car just a month earlier I was quietly confident that it would be a simple formality. I was to underestimate the differences between the different Australian states' regulations. Thinking back I remember having been warned that Victoria's were very strict whereas those of the Northern Territory relatively lax. Infractions that the mechanic spotted on the car included: headlights that were too dim (need to be specially polished); worn out windscreen wipers; brake discs that were too small; and an oil leak in the engine. All but the latter were "faults" that had come through the previous inspection either unnoticed or disregarded and would not have been an issue had I been selling in Darwin rather than Melbourne. The leak was another matter and, unfortunately, required more of an intervention to discover its source. Luckily it was not a major problem, but the time taken for the work pushed the repair cost into uncomfortable territory.

Luckily the very afternoon I got the car back from the garage I received a call from a young Swiss traveller who had seen one of my flyers. I went over to show him my car and within half an hour he had agreed to purchase it from me. By the next day he had sent me a confirmation of the transfer of money from his account and I handed over the keys, glad to be rid of the car, which had become something of an albatross around my neck as getting rid of it had proved more time-consuming than I had initially envisaged (despite the repair costs it was still more economical to buy and sell than to rent, which was our other option when starting out from Darwin).

In the meantime I was very lucky to have been taken in by old friends of my parents who they had known from their days in Iran during the '79 revolution. Martha and Ali lived in an apartment on the opposite side of the street and would talk across it during the daily curfews. They now live in Melbourne and were not only kind enough to take me in, but also included me in their family Christmas celebrations, complete with turkey, tree, roast ham and Christmas pudding.

Christmas dinner at the Jam household, complete with all the trimmings, including Christmas crackers with dodgy jokes.

Once I was free of the car I was able to book my ticket to New Zealand. Once again, despite a good deal of effort on my behalf, I was forced to give up my terrestrial shackles and take the plane. Had there been enough time (you may be surprised to hear that, despite my copious wanderings, I am feeling the pressure of time and feel as if I do not have enough to do all that I would like to), and perhaps less financial pressure, it would have been possible to do the crossing by boat. But alas it was not to be so I bought the cheapest ticket I could find, which happened to leave late on New year's Eve and set off, ready to start the new year with a new country.

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