Fremantle and Perth, in search for Janis

Upon arrival in Perth, Western Australia, rain and cold greet us. We arrive in wintertime here. After the heath of Indonesia, a huge adaptation! But the warmth and helpfulness of the people at the airport and on the buses make us soon enjoying being here. From the airport we head to Munster, near Fremantle where we stay our first couple of days with Julie, Nick and their dog Jack.

A bustrip brings us to the petrol station near their house and Julie picks us up there. We receive a warm welcome, including a delicious meal and a bed with a marvellous mattress. Both of us feel directly at home and taste the second time the Australian hospitality. That evening we talk about our plans, the past month, Australia and a one thousand other things. Thanks to the good help of Julie and Nick, we already know where we can find the necessities in Fremantle for the next day. Together we even search for a car. With a happy feeling we go sleeping, fully prepared for the search for a car and the preparations for a long stay in the country.

Our first thing the next day is opening a bank account. We head to the Westpac office, complete some forms and set a couple of signatures. Nancy gives us all the information about how to work with an overseas account, which slightly differs from our banking habit. Normally we should receive our bank cards at the end of the week or at the beginning of the next one.
Secondly we head to an optician, to repair my glasses the monkey loved to eat…
And third we search for an Australian mobile number. That is a little harder than we taught, because here in Australia all prepaid cards expire after 30 or 60 days. Besides, their best mobile operator, Telstra, works on a different frequency than our operators, so they won’t work well with our mobiles. Our choice goes between Optus and Vodafone, we choose the first one.
During the day we already made some appointments to view a couple of cars. Our first would even be that night, but is replaced to the next morning. The evening we spent with Nick and Julie, talking about a myriad of things. That night we go sleeping with one big question, should we buy a van or a 4WD? Both have their advantages and disadvantages and all people we’ve met have a distinct opinion. For us it’s still unclear, however I dream about a 4WD.

Next morning we head to the first option, a van from 2 French girls. We meet each other at the beach side, and to be honest, we enjoy the beach more than the van. He looks old, seems rusty at many spots, has some bumps and the gearbox and suspensions hardly work. A small test trip later we’re gone… Looking for the other options and doubting if all cars will be that desperate.
During the day we spend some time looking for a new homestay, because our time with Nick and Julie regrettably soon turns to an end. Luckily we find a nice room some streets further. Another problem solved.
Late afternoon we have an appointment, this time for a 4WD in Joondalup, at the other side of Perth. Before going there, we make a small stop in Perth City for a check up of our camera, which we feel acting strange after a fall in Indonesia. Luckily all is well, so we head with a happy feeling to the car. David, the owner, awaits us at the railway station and shows us the car, a Nissan Terreno. Both of us like the car, especially because its small size, automatic gearbox and excellent tires. It has the advantage of a lower fuel consumption and an easy way of driving, but we need a daily camping place to set up our tent and so. We decide to wait a little longer, before we make a decision… Tonight is our last day with Julie and Nick, and we promised to cook for them. In the supermarket we buy all the stuff to make a vegetarian spaghetti. After dinner and a long talk, we go sleeping with the same question as yesterday. Buy we a van or a 4WD?

Next day we’ll see a promising van… Or better we think we should. The owner shows us all the equipment of his ‘perfect’ van. But while looking at it, oil and water start streaming from its engine. No problem, the owner takes us straight to a garage to fix that ‘little’ problem. A little fixing later, we head for a test drive. During that drive the gearbox starts having trouble, but still a ‘perfect’ van. We head to the same garage and while the mechanic fixes some tubes, the owner makes us a reasonable price. His van has to go, the sooner the better, we think the same, but not to us. After the fixing of the tubes, we try to start and… Ouch… After a few meters the engine falls out. Starting anew and again he fails to drive some meters. Three times in a row, so the owner sends us straight on the bus and prepares to fix the van. Tomorrow everything will be once again ‘perfect’ with his van… Yeah… Sure… What an experience! But it gives us something to think about, how on earth will we find here a nice car?

During meal, we consider what to do next… The only valuable option is the 4WD from David. We eliminate some more cars because the trademarks are not right for spare parts here in Australia. Best option is to buy a Toyota, these parts you can find everywhere and a Nissan is also a good option. For the vans, a Mitsubishi is the best choice. After all we decide to try another 4WD, a Toyota Landcruiser, THE car of the outback. We made a few calls earlier, without answer… But this time we’re lucky. Twice lucky… The sellers are a Belgian couple and we can visit the car immediately. So we head to Perth to take a look.
Curious about what we’ll see, we definitely decide on the train to go for a 4WD, because we get some more options during the trip. If this Toyota proves to be nothing, we’ll buy Davids car.

Curiously we see the red car… A real beauty and with their sellers, Tom and Marjan, we immediately start talking straight away. This goes easy in our mothertongue. In no time the deal is set and we decide to buy the car. Her name is Janis, an old lady from 1988 with a huge history behind. She has 270000 km’s, but only 3 owners. Firstly an old guy, who cared a long while for her. Afterward a German couple bought her and transformed her in a camper. They cared the engine extremely well. After them, Tom and Marjan bought her and they drove 15000 km’s with her in only 2 months, they also cared much about her and find it important she makes another drive with responsible drivers.

We make an appointment to go the next day to the inspection, register her on our name, change her plates into Western Australian ones and set the deal. Tom and Marjan promise us to do the inspection and we insist to go all together. So next day they pick us up in Fremantle and the four of us head to the inspection. The registration goes easily, because all of us are present, so if we need this or that all is immediately there. We have to wait a long long long time before they check our car, but technically all is ok. We only need mud flaps behind and an immobiliser, conform the new rules in Australia. So the registration is for tomorrow. That evening we buy the flaps and Tom makes an arrangement to install the immobiliser next morning! What a service, both of us feel like we just won the lottery jackpot. We seal the deal in a McDonalds, not our favourite location, but we got free WiFi… Luckily we can arrange the deal in Euro, because our money is still not present on our Australian account. Here we say goodbye to Tom and Marjan and promise to meet each other again tomorrow, to finish all necessities for the car.
The two of us end in an Italian restaurant in Perth, where we celebrate our buy with a delicious pizza. Because wednesday is a special payable arrangement day, otherwise going out eating is hardly payable! We feel in the seventh heaven.

Next morning we meet again in Perth. Tom and Marjan already made the immobiliser install and let the mud flaps attach, while we opened a post office box. This makes the registration easier, because we always need a home address here in Australia. The second inspection goes easy and in no time we have our West Australian plates. Tom and Marjan get one of their Queensland plates as a souvenir.
Finally the car is ours, inspected, approved and registered… All in 3 days, thanks to the excellent help of Tom and Marjan! During all the waiting for the registration and inspection, Tom gives us a speedcourse carmechanics and Marjan shows us all the equipment hidden within the big, old lady. What a machine!
To thank them for all the help and the fast registration, we promise to make a barbecue on one of the free ones in Fremantle. A wonderful system we’ll use many times during our trip. We buy all necessities in the Cole and get afterward to our barbecue site. We celebrate the buy and enjoy the company. Afterwards, Tom and Marjan head back to Perth and we have to drive the beast for the first time ourselves. Luckily only a few streets away. Ilse takes the first turn, because she already get experience with jeeps…
Tonight we sleep happily in our car, somewhere in the streets of Fremantle.

Next day we decide to visit Fremantle and enjoy our first day off… We hire bikes, now we got a car, and drive along the coast in the direction of Perth. Its a sunny day and we enjoy the freedom and all kinds of beach views. That night we sleep once again somewhere in the streets and take a shower in the public ones.
The day aftrwe visit the headlines of Fremantle, after organising our car according to our wishes. In the city we visit the marine museum with numerous yacht boats, climb inside a submarine and take a look at the last parts of the Batavia, an old Dutch shipwreck. Inside our car we dream about visiting Perth the next day. That proves to be a beautiful walk in a sunlit city in ‘wintertime’. Especially the bell tower is worth a visit. Afterwards we return to Fremantle, buy our food supplies in the Cole and head to our car. Now it is time to leave Fremantle and Perth and head north…
Both of us are nervous about driving such a big car in that busy city and Ilse takes the responsibility to drive our old lady out of the crowd. All goes well, but we departed too late and are soon covered in dark. So we spend the night at one of the many road parkings, because none of us wants to drive in the dark.

Our first days we need to get accustomed to the car… How she drives, the height and width, driving left and all the mechanics. I check the oil and water daily, control the tire pressure and we both listen carefully about what our lady tells us. But its a pleasure to be on the road and we enjoy the driving.
For now, we’re driving north. Ciao.

And our stories in Dutch…
Zaterdag 18augustus2012

Vandaag gaan we de sportieve toer op. We maken gebruik van de gratis fietsen van de toeristsche dienst en plannen te fietsen van Fremantle tot Perth. Gezien het late uur van vertrek beslissen we richting Perth te fietsen en halverwege onze beschikbare tijd rechtsomkeer te maken.
We worden verrast door een prachtige winterdag (voor ons zou dit een prachtige zomerdag zijn). De zichten langs het fietspad zijn fabuleus. De weg volgt de Swanrivier en het is idyllisch fietsen langs het water. Het is leuk om de Australische families op een weekenddag te zien en hun vele vrijetijdsbestedingen.
Terug in Fremantle brengen we een bezoek aan het leuke zaterdagsmarktje net voor de toeristische dienst. We kopen er groenten en fruit bij een boer uit Albany. Je smaakt de zon in de sappige mandarijntjes. Ik keer nog even terug om te vertellen aan de fruitboer hoe lekker ze wel zijn en krijg zomaar 2verse fruitsalaatjes in mijn handen gedrukt. En wat smaken die!!!

Zondag 19augustus2012

Eerste opdracht voor vandaag: orde brengen in ons huishouden!
We gooien alles uit de auto en herschikken een aantal bakken: automechanica, kledij, poetsmateriaal, keukengerief en onze luxekoelbox! Alle trekkersgerief wordt voorlopig opgeborgen in onze flightbags.Na deze opruimactie voelen we ons al stukken beter en kunnen we zonder problemen in ons bed.
Even onze slaapkamer beschrijven: een stevige houten plank met daarop een luxematras en een heerlijk donsdeken met lekker zachte kussens. Dit alles zit in vurig rode lakens, lekker gewassen door de vorige eigenaars. Aan de zijkanten en aan het hoofdeinde stevige witte gordijntjes en aan onze voeten een muskietennetje die we in warmere streken zeker nog zullen kunnen gebruiken. Ondanks de amper 50cm hoogte voelt onze slaapkamer heel ruim en confortabel aan. Onder de matras ligt de tafel en achter de zetels zitten 4stoelen. We kunnen onze slaapruimte ook nog uitbreiden met een tent die over het achterste stuk van de wagen gaat. Echt een huisje op 4wielen!

Na 5 dagen Fremantle hebben we eigenlijk nog steeds geen tijd gehad om de toeristische attracties van het stadje te bezoeken. We beginnen in het maritiem museum waar we een duikboot bezichtigen. Daarna nog even een blik werpen op de vergane Batavia. We eindigen de dag in South Beach park waar we een eitje en een pattatje bakken op de publieke gasbarbecues in het park.

Maandag 20augustus2012

Vandaag nemen we voor de laatste keer de trein van Fremantle naar Perth. We riskeren het om terug een 1zone-kaartje te nemen en komen heelhuids in de grootstad aan. Perth is de meest geisoleerde stad ter wereld maar tevens de snelst groeiende stad van Australie. Het is een aangename stad met heel wat moderne architectuur. De koloniale gebouwen contrasteren sterk met de wolkenkrabbers er vlak naast. De bars en pubs zien er uiterst gezellig uit …maar ook prijzig. In het Belgium beercafe betaal je gemiddeld 10dollar voor een eenvoudig Belgisch biertje.
Om 14u hebben we het wat gezien en we verlangen beiden terug naar de natuur. We nemen de trein terug naar Fremantle, onze vertrouwde uitvalbasis. Daar halen we onze 2de bankkaart op en gaan naar de Coles, de lokale supermarkt, voor onze basisinkopen. Brood, melkpoeder, een reuzepak cornflakes, kokosmelk, pasta’s,…en gasbommetjes… Nu nog een creatieve aanpak van de ingredienten en we hebben voor vele weken overheerlijke maaltijden. Alleen het fruit, groenten en vlees of vis moet regelmatig bij de lokale boer aangevuld worden.
En nu zijn we echt klaar voor het avontuur. Ik rij de wagen van Fremantle tot voorbij Perth. Een hele klus in het verkeer en zeker omdat er iedere 100m moet gestopt worden voor verkeerslichten. Ook onze Janis vindt dit niet zo leuk. Ze is echt wel gemaakt voor de outback! We maken voor de eerste keer kennis met roadtrains op de baan. Dit zijn mastodonte vrachtwagens met 2 tot 4 trailers. Ze zijn volledig verlicht…net zoals in de westernfilmkes!
Om 18u valt de avond en rijden in het donker bevalt me niet zo. We beslissen dan ook om op een restarea aan de kant van de weg te overnacten. Nog even horen we het gedreun van de voorbijrazende roadtrains maar rond 20u zijn ook die niet meer op de baan en wordt het muisstil.