Every cloud…

So, here we are, still grounded in Port MacQuarie! The van was collected by the tow truck at about 9am this morning, and was taken – with us – to the garage up the road. We were told that they would look at it this afternoon and would call us when it was ready for collection. Unfortunately, we did not hear from them again…

We spent the day wandering around the “town” (village), and we put ourselves through ‘The Little Fockers’ at the local cinema to kill some time. When we had run out of things to do, we walked back to the garage, only to be told that they had been unable to source a new distributor ($500 for a new part – ouch!), and that they could not get hold of one until tomorrow at the earliest.

We were obviously *very* frustrated! After all, we had only planned to spend a couple of nights here as a stopover on our trip up north. Anyway, it turns out that some of the benefits of our shiny new NRMA membership includes overnight accommodation and a hire car. Result! So, we have just rocked up at a rather hideous-looking motel, but are loving the luxury of a bed, air con, a private bathroom, and a balcony with views of the main road. To emphasise on the positives, we also have a bottle shop over the road and an adult shop next door. How’s that for luck?! =)

We also encountered some true Aussie hospitality when a guy at the garage, also waiting to collect his car, offered to take us back to our camp site so that we could pick up a few bits that we had left there this morning, and then onto the motel. What a nice guy! He even gave us his business card and said to call him if we needed any further assistance or a place to stay at night. Wow! The only condition of him helping us was that we did not mention the cricket. Cricket, what cricket? =) His wife is a pom from Tottenham, and his sister is from Send near Guildford. Rick was a star – thank you!

In other news, we take delivery of our hire car tomorrow, and plan to explore the local area, visiting the koala hospital and the rainforest experience (whatever that is?!).

We hope to be back on the road by the end of the week, and we have semi-planned a weekend stay in a place called Barrington Tops, which is in the middle of nowhere, and south from here. We have brought forward the date of our stay in the Hunter Valley to the beginning of next week, when we are planning to explore the area and find out about picking up some work there for another trip at the end of Jan/beginning of Feb. We hope to be able to earn approx $125 per day, each, for picking grapes. Apparently the benefits are – ‘weight loss’ and ‘toning up’, and having an ‘average to good level of fitness is necessary’ … Oh shit! Watch this space…

Despite our trials and tribulations with the van, we have to say that regardless of the frustrations that we have experienced, and the days that we have “wasted”, we still count ourselves *very* lucky and really wouldn’t change it for the world! Not only are we experiencing the trip of a lifetime and, perhaps, the daily “traumas” of a backpacker; our situation is not even remotely bad compared to that of the residents of QLD and northern NSW, where cars and houses are being destroyed, and lives are being lost. The situation with the floods has been declared a natural disaster, and a massive number of homes are expected to be lost in Brisbane tonight. It really is terrible! We are very lucky not to be caught up in this, and our thoughts are with the people that are…

On that sobering note, lots of love to everybody back home! xx

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