18 March 20 report

This could be the shortest blog in human history – and there’s no photos – just a synopsis of our convoluted attempts to depart over the last few months… and a demonstration of how the Blackwattle Crew, roaming, just never give up.

Plan No. 1: Depart in July 2019 with our newly arrived Van (Sprinter) from Germany. Well, that didn’t work as the van hadn’t even arrived in Australia – didn’t arrive until November 2019. The fact that the e-bikes from China were now going to arrive in October (20 working days from September 11) seemed to make it all okay. We were meant to depart in November…it was in the stars.

Plan No. 2: September, 2019. Too late to go north, so, after making all sorts of plans to meet friends and family around NSW and Victoria, we set off in a borrowed van (thank you dear friends), wandering happily around NSW and returned in November to collect new Van, but the e-bikes still hadn’t arrived.

Plan No. 3: November, 2019. Finally received the Sprinter, but it didn’t sprint so well and had to be returned to the manufacturer for multiple issues. You’d think we’d take a small hint at that point. No, never, not the Blackwattle pair.

Plan No. 4: December 2019, Van issues fixed, but still no e-bikes (was it a scam, do they really exist?), too late to go north, we set off for the south of Australia, but everywhere we went seemed to burst into flames a couple of days after we departed – Mallacoota, Lakes Entrance, Dargo, Bright…I started to worry that there’d be a knock on the door by the police asking about this coincidence… While trying to find a way home to collect our e-bikes, which were running five months late (now we had a tracking number) we grieved with the rest of Australia at the bushfire calamity. The way north was blocked by fires, so we headed west. Not a good idea. The temperature went up and up until it was hovering between 45 and 49 degrees. (Nah, we didn’t have air-conditioning because smarty-pants Blackwattle Roaming was going north in the winter and south in the summer.) By now, instead of free-camping to get home we were heading for caravan parks with swimming pools… that worked okay until the pools became as hot as the air. Gasping from the heat we arrived with relief into our air-conditioned home in Dungog to finally collect our e-bikes (fabulous, as it turns out).

Plan No. 5: Thus finally equipped with our Carbo e-bikes, we set out again in March 2020, this time planning to be victorious – only realising slowly, with the rest of Australia, that we were heading into arguably the greatest crisis Australia has had in living memory, Covid 19.

So, writing this from Temora – shall we go on? Shall we curtail our ambitions? In our minds, we are headed for Western Australia – along the Great Australian Bight to Perth, then up the west coast almost to Broome, then across the Tanami Desert Track to Alice, over to Queensland via Birdsville, where we have a date with old sailing friends who completed their circumnavigation at the same time as our own boat, Blackwattle.

News is trickling in day by day. This trip involves visiting Aboriginal communities (I think – is purchasing fuel ‘visiting’? – or is the service station located at a distance?), will Northern Territory close their borders? It’s easy to socially distance ourselves in our self-contained RV, but are we doing ‘unnecessary travel’ which the Prime Minister has cautioned against?

So, no, we can’t go on. The PM said this morning, NO ‘non-essential travel’. We’re on our way home, back to Dungog. As I said, this could be the shortest blog in human history… not that I’m competing… watch this space. If there ever IS a Plan No. 6, it’ll be found here – eventually…

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