Friday, January 25, 2013

Return to the Emerald City

moving boxes
The books are being packed up again. Munson has seen this before and seems to have an inkling of what’s going on.

We’re headed for Australia – all three of us – and expect to be arriving in Sydney a few days before Easter, that is to say at the end of March. This has been in the works for about six months now, and in fact we would have already been in Sydney except we had to re-vaccinate Munson and delay the countdown three months. Gustav has been simply bursting to tell the world for some time now, but I needed to wait until some more preparation was done.

After two and a half years on the French farm, the move is not being done lightly or without acknowledging how much I’ll miss the place and having Brent, Jean and the four growing Munsoneers next door. However work options for us in this part of France are severely limited (I have temporary residency at best, and Gustav has little open to him in a dominantly agricultural area other than minimum wage work), so a trip down under provides the most options. That doesn’t mean it’s permanent  - especially if I don’t find work quickly – but we have a plan to follow and there’s no cost-effective Plan B that allows for Europe in the near term.

Our timetable has the movers collecting our furniture from here at the end of February. We will drive to Paris for a few days – notably because I haven’t been there since my two month stay in 2006, and neither Gustav nor Munson have spent any time there.  From there, Gustav flies back to Sweden to get his final packing and paperwork done, and to act as best man at a friend’s wedding. Meanwhile, Munson and I continue on to the UK where we’ll say goodbyes to everyone. Around about March 25, I leave Munson with the pet transporters in London, and I fly to Copenhagen to join Gustav, and from there we fly to Sydney.
books and boxes ... again
One of the reasons I’m spending three weeks in the UK is to finish Munson’s export preparations. It has been unnecessarily complicated to get this far with his French paperwork, and I quickly realised that it would be much simpler to get the export done from London rather than Paris. I don’t want to deal with any more local officials who ignore or disagree with the Australian quarantine regulations! I also found that it is significantly less expensive to go via the UK than use French transporters (where there is very little competition) who all blithely ignored the information I sent when requesting a quote, when they could be bothered responding.

To make this transfer work I had to obtain a Certificate of Equivalency from the Australian quarantine folks which enables Munson to move between two countries in the six months prior to export. Despite most of Western Europe being a borderless free-travel zone, and each country being rated the same by Australia, DAFF (the new name for AQIS) still has this six month rule. Through December I had a number of sleepless nights pushing paperwork between France, Britain and Australia with at least one catch-22 situation before I got the final approval a few weeks ago.

As soon as we get to London at the start of March, we’ll visit the pet transporters and get them to handle all of Munson’s final tests and shots. They’re the same people as handled Bondi’s travel in 2007.
He’ll be arriving about the same time as Gustav and me, but I probably won’t get to check in with him until after the Easter holiday weekend. He’ll be at the quarantine station until May 1.

The easiest part of the trip planning was getting a working holiday visa for Gustav: his online application was processed in less than 24 hours!

We’ll be staying in Woolloomooloo with my friend Vance when we arrive, as there’s no point in moving back into my house until the furniture arrives in late April/early May.

For now, I’m busy whittling down my life into “keep” or “discard” boxes, while searching for employment in Sydney. If you have any suggestions or leads – please let me know – I have a mortgage to feed!

Also, for friends in the UK, I’ve got plenty of time up my sleeve and don’t want to be hanging around London the whole time – although some visits to Munson’s Coffee & Eats Co is mandatory!

Munson's Coffee & Eats Co (photograph- MountainThunder)

(photograph: MountainThunder)


  1. Oh my goodness. On the road again. Have a great and safe trip home, not too stressful I hope, especially for Munson! We've been researching getting Georgia to South America the last few months and have just about given up. It seems that no one has the experience on this side and we have been diverted to Miami and LA for info. Not to mention, with the SA classification, it would likely be a one-way trip. All too complicated and final for us!

    Perhaps you could do a post about the pitfalls and how to get dogs in (and out) of Oz when you're back and settled :)

    1. The pitfalls are many and varied! One of the problems is that details of the Australian regulations change each year, and they don't post a "change log". You have to wade through a long document each time to figure out what's new. All the moving companies roll their eyes when they talk about moving an animal to Australia.

      There are further complications in that the transition from AQIS to DAFF is not smooth and some documents reference old email addresses and website addresses. The website is not easy to navigate at the best of times! While I was progressing through my application in December some of the documents simply disappeared off the site!

      Bigger changes are ahead for those inbound. Some are good: the minimum quarantine may be going down from 30 to 5 days. BUT. All the quarantine centres across the continent are being centralised to a single new facility to be built at Tullamarine. So if you're in another state there is no opportunity to visit or exercise the dog, and you have to factor in transport costs for getting them home again. Since Australian trains don't allow dogs you've either got to arrange other road transport or pay $$$ to fly them. ($$$$$$ for big dogs).

      I submitted feedback on the review plans for the changes but I don't know if they'll pay them any attention. I drew their attention (again!) to the six month rule, reminding them that it is ridiculous to ask a vet to certify a dog hasn't left a country in the last six months as there is no way for them to tell. Last year Munson travelled between Gibraltar and Stockholm through 8 countries without ever being asked to show his paperwork.

    2. Hope you 3 might stop to spend a night in Saint-Aignan before you fly off to the other world. This time you'll be able to sleep in the guest room rather than in in the tent. We're only about three hours from Paris by car. I go to the U.S. in April, but both of us are here until then (Callie too).

    3. That would be wonderful Ken. We'd certainly love to see you both before we sail off into the blue. Most likely dates for us are Feb 26th or 27th - we won't know for sure until the movers get here. They're actually coming from the UK, because it's about 30% cheaper than a local mover! Unbelievable.

  2. Hey Mike, do you have any plan to come to Cambridge while visiting the UK? We've never met or talked before, but I've been following your blog for a long time and I'd love to meet you and Munson before you get back to Australia! We could also meet in London instead! Manu

    1. Hi Manu

      I don't have an itinerary yet, but I do aim to visit a friend in Norfolk for a few days, and I'm just reminded that I should look up an Aussie friend teaching at Anglia Ruskin U in Cambridge. Much will depend on where I can get accommodation.

      I probably can't give you a better answer than that until nearer to March.


  3. Hi Mike, that would be great, I'll be following your blog but if you manage to visit the area I'll send you my email maybe via PM on twitter or Facebook!