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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Oz - More Transitions! What Bit the Dust?

Road to Blowhole Beach, Deep Creek area, South Australia - 4 Wheel Drive only.  This is one of the reasons we sold our van
and bought a 4-wheel drive to complete our circumnavigation of Oz.  
How many folks allow 3 days to sell one home, move into another much smaller one and hit the road? And how many of those moved only a month earlier from their home of 5 years into another, much, much smaller one? How many of them do that whole process in a foreign country, halfway around the world from friends and family, with no place nearby to store their stuff?

It’s crazy, but not impossible.

We’re living proof.

Our first gauntlet, however, was not 4-wheel driving or downsizing, but navigation Melbourne’s hellish road construction….

We bought our 4 wheel drive in Melbourne, but in large part to get out of Melbourne and maddening driving like this,
encountered on our trip to pick up the Land Cruiser we bought.  Melbourne, Australia.
First, a little background….

Given the available options at the time, we’d decided on the first 4-wheel drive was saw – a 1997 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado Grande with about 300,000 km. “Cruisies are good for at least 500,000 km,” opined our sage Townsville “bush-block” friend Peter. It was set up with a comfy bed, a roo bar, under-bed storage, a roof rack, and – key for us – air conditioning. Other nicities included the usual assortment of kitchen necessities (pots, pans, dishes, cutlery etc), a very small “fridge,” 2 chairs, a substantial fold-out table and an awning. Other than a sunburnt hood, the SUV was in great shape.

Leo (the guy we bought our Land Cruiser from) and his girlfriend crossed the Nullarbor, and spent a month travel/ sleeping in the Cruiser, but after 6 weeks of driving, didn’t find they needed it now that they were working in Melbourne. Leo lamented the loss of the Land Cruiser bed though, as they found it more comfortable than the mattress in their apartment.

Before we completed our purchase of the Land Cruiser, we wanted to wait until we had a buyer identified for our van. Leo’s next potential buyer wasn’t around for another week, so we had the time. Apparently the market for Land Cruisers wasn’t as hot as the market for vans.


It was time to close the deal on our-new-to-us Land Cruiser. We paid $7800 AUD, $1000 more AUD than for our 1982 Toyota Hiace Campervan conversion (click here for more about that).

Still blocked.  Our long drive in Melbourne to buy the vehicle to get us the heck out of the big city!  Melbourne, Australia.
What we didn’t expect was that our former 15 minute drive would take us an hour and a half – an hour longer than we’d allotted. A couple main thoroughfares near Leo’s were closed off for a substantial stretch. When we finally got clear, we got stuck behind a road truck. Several “We’re almost there – really!” texts ensued. Fortunately, it was Leo’s day off work, so our tardiness didn’t put him into a jam.

We gave up a lot of "creature comforts" to make the switch from our van to a 4-wheel drive SUV.
Still, a lot came with it, too.  Melbourne Australia.
Then came the hardest part of all….

It was time to downsize yet again, my second time in less than a month – the first time was from our watery home of nearly 5 years to the van. The boat was ~150 square feet plus a ton of or more for storage; the van about 50 square feet for everything (click here to see my embarrassing photos of that downsizing process).

Now our home for the next 5 or so months, the Land Cruiser, was only ~¼ of the storage space of the van.

Once again, I danced my humiliating little walk of downsizing shame, writ large, as this time, it was more public.

Yard sale?” inquired a soccer player, one of many encroaching in “our” space in a formerly deserted field of a Melbourne suburb.

As usual, it took me several hours deciding what to shed. As usual, Wayne waited, as for a minimalist like him, the process took only a few minutes.

How was I going to manage our meals with no kitchen, no sink, a “fridge” only large enough to hold a six-pack, a one-burner portable gas camp stove, one small box for coffee and tea, one box for all my cooking implements and utensils and one box for all food and food ingredients? Oh and did I mention we rarely eat out, we would frequently be in wilderness areas far from grocery stores and that Wayne is on a gluten-free diet?

We also needed to carry our clothes for the next 5 months, all required personal hygiene and 1st aid products, two laptop computers, a Kindle, and iPad, several mobile phones and whatever else we believed we’d need for entertainment and about 20,0000+ km of travel for 5 months.

I began the process late afternoon, and struggled to complete my task as fall’s early darkness approached. Meanwhile, my sorting space got smaller and smaller as the empty soccer field filled with several matches. At least the weather cooperated, it was mild and sunny, neither windy nor wet. My prior downsizing was executed in 100 degree weather a motel back parking lot.

Finally, I was done, at least done enough that we’d tossed some items, identified what would stay in the van for its new owner, what was coming with us, what was getting donated to charity and what was else was getting shipped back to the US to sit in my generous in-laws garage.

What didn’t make the cut (partial list)

  • about half my clothes
  • tupperware” all but 2 bowls with handles, 2 sandwich-sized flat squares, a few really tiny ones and 2 spice boxes
  • the 2 remaining broken, scraped picnic plaid Everett Washington op-shop trays we used for plates (and Wayne adored and we used daily for the last 4 ½ years)
  • fish sauce – used in home-made pad thai and Asian salad dressings (since found a tiny bottle of fish sauce)
  • ketchup
  • rice (I buy pre-cooked when we have a meal that lends itself to rice)

Wayne's favorite and overly-loved dishes... that didn't make the cut.  Downsizing (again!) Melbourne, Australia.
What did make the cut (partial list)
condiments:

  • 3 oils (rice bran, olive, sesame)
  • 2 vinegars (balsamic and rice wine)
  • 1 gluten-free soy
  • 1 oz wasabi paste tube (for sushi, our cheap lunch of choice, out)
  • chili-garlic paste
  • chipotle sauce
  • A-1 (for Wayne - I find it disgusting!)
  • Mexican seasonings, mixed herbs, smoked paprika, salt, pepper
  • mustard
  • vanilla extract (for French toast!)
starches:

  • gluten-free pasta
  • quinoa (one final serving left)
  • gluten-free bread (we nearly always have a loaf on tap)
protein:

  • 2 4-oz cans of flavored tuna
  • canned beans
  • peanut butter (and jelly)
  • plus whatever we buy for the next lunch or dinner and refrigerate in our six-pack-sized "refrigerator")
beverages:

  • coffee, melitta coffee maker, tea (still trying to connect with my instant Tipus Chai, ordered 6 weeks ago but we just missed), raw sugar
kitchen basics:

  • cutlery set for 4, 2 steak knives, 1 paring knife, 1 cleaving knife, can opener, grater, peeler, ladle, spatula, scraper, pasta stirrer, whisk, 2 liter pourable measuring cup + 1 measuring cup and spoon set


Time will tell what jettisoned items I’ll regret and what kept items weren’t worth their space.

Warnambool, Australia, at the end of New South Wales Great Ocean Road, and where we jettisoned yet more stuff
to lighten our load for our travels through Australia.
What would you keep – and lose – if you only had a few bins for your galley for 5 months road-tripping?

Wayne, reducing drag on our Land Cruiser whilst I added more stuff to the Salvos box.  Warnambool, Australia.
Location Location
We transitioned between our van and the Land Cruiser in the Melbourne area, February 23, 2017. We are currently over 5,000 km and 3,000 miles down the road since then.  We're currently in Western Australia, near Perth.

Our Land Cruiser on stunningly beautiful Lucky Beach, Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia.
Another great reason to have 4-wheel-drive when touring Australia.
Up Next
We’re continuing our clockwise circumnavigation of Oz, targeting completion in August 2017. There will be posts along the way, as well as continued catch-up up posts.
We added this $99 AUD (~$72 USD) tent.  We left the canopy off when we set up in this Deep Creek South Australia campground.  The bed and bedding came with the Land Cruiser.  If we're setting up late, leaving really early or the weather is bad, we sleep in the Land Cruiser; otherwise we sleep in the tent.  If it's really bad, we'll go for a backpacker lodging or an affordable motel, but not much room for many of those in the budget.