Given the extraordinary delays in unloading the Talisman I decided to research what was happening in the nation’s ports – I came across an online article that pretty well spelled it all out ( see the link to it in the Postscript: Shipping Update section at the end of this blog). It’s a short but instructive read on exactly why we are caught up in this incredibly frustrating situation.

Melbourne’s notoriously fickle weather had been typically changeable this past week as we looked around the area for things to do to. Fortunately it had been mostly fine (changing really only from good to excellent), so on that front we’ve had little to complain about. Lots of days in the 30’s ( with one nudging 40 ) so it was nice to have a pool given the higher temperatures. Not as nice as our beach-side AirBnB, but “any port in a storm” as the saying goes ( can’t believe I’m now making “port” jokes about this train wreck of an unloading experience ). With our AirBnB available again by the end of last week we happily made the move back to Aspendale. Not only is it a very nice spot but we could actually look into the bay and see the comings and goings of all the marine traffic in Port Phillip Bay – one of these days the name on the ship passing by must surely be “Talisman” !

After a few days back in Aspendale ( which included a beach closure due to a shark sighting and some wonderful travels into the nearby Dandenong Ranges ) news reached us that the unloading of our van had been even further delayed. At this point the decision was made to employ a little “reverse psychology”. Staying in Melbourne and patiently waiting ( for over 2 weeks ) had not served us well so we packed up, grabbed a rental car, and drove back to Temora – surely, we thought, as soon as we leave Melbourne there’d be some movement at the port !

Near Olinda, Dandenong Range
White cockatoos, Dandenong Range.
Sir Paz Winery, Yarra Valley
Sir Paz Winery.
We enjoyed wine tasting here complemented with a delicious brick oven pizza. A nice view to enjoy while preparing the crust.
Wandering the vines, Sir Paz.
Shiraz grapes, Sir Paz.
Hugely popular with Melbournians, the chocolate (and ice cream) at the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie was divine. The place was absolutely packed – we could see why.
View from the Chocolaterie.
You could watch the chocolate making process and learn a bit of the history of chocolate.
On this particular day Aspendale beach was packed and lots of young kids were doing surf life saver training. Within an hour the beach was empty as a result of a shark sighting !
The shark was sighted just in front of the Aspendale Surf Club. Caught this clip on our TV as we went back home.
Turned out to be a “Blue” shark, not usually dangerous, but a frightening thing to bump into if you were in the water ( the fin looked just like all other sharks !!!! )
Lois had asked if sharks could come in this close – the beach is very shallow as you can see. “Unlikely”, I answered.
A beautiful sunset on our last night in Melbourne ( for now anyway ! )

Little did we know that in addition to spending some more quality time with my brother, Ian and his wife, Anne that there’d be even more aviation joy ahead while in Temora ( hard to top the Spitfire’s we saw flying around during our last pit stop here ). Their immediate neighbour at the Airpark ( Nick ) owned an F1 Rocket experimental plane and invited both Lois and I up for a couple of aerobatic flights. To say it was the thrill of a lifetime would be an understatement. Absolutely stunning to experience rolls and loops with an unforgettable view of Temora from 1,400 metres, inverted, flying at 400km/h and experiencing 4G forces while entering and exiting the loops ! A few images below and a great video of what a loop looks like in an acrobatic plane:

Rocket F1 plane
In the air with Nick piloting.
Sign in Nick’s hangar – and his plane goes faster than that !
Lois, in the Rocket F1 doing a 360 degree roll.
Lois, doing a loop…….inverted, at 400km/h, over Temora.

Now I can’t imagine anything that could top the experience of flying upside down and doing rolls and loops at 400km/h on a perfect Temora day. Well, there is one thing…..getting the keys to our rig next week (fingers crossed ). Stay tuned, and wish us luck !

Postscript: Shipping Update

The article referred to it as “A Total Ship Show”. Two weeks back, Josh Dowling of ( one of Australia’s most widely read motoring sites ) completed an investigation into the ever-increasing delays of new car deliveries into Australia ( our van is caught up in all this). If we needed to better understand why we are where we are then we got our answer in that article. Actually, there was more than one article – another here ( and at least one TV spot ) addressing the issue of long delays in Australian ports. If you’re interested in reading about any of it, take a look at either article. They certainly explained a lot of things for us.

In the first few days of the week ( we follow port traffic updates regularly ) the news went from bad to worse until late in the week we saw, for the first time in almost a month, that the Talisman had finally moved from Bass Strait and into Port Phillip Bay and simultaneously the Port Scheduling app showed that it’s “berthing” was being prepared. Hallelujah ! After the delays we had endured this was indeed great news. By week’s end the unloading was near complete. Next step will be an inspection by the quarantine folks on Monday at which point they decide whether our vehicle is clean enough ( so we get the keys and can take it ) or if it requires further cleaning and thus needs to be trucked to a certified offsite washbay before re-inspection by the quarantine folks. Let’s hope we have it all done by the next blog !

We looked at the app to see that finally our ship was inside the bay and heading to the dock, getting ready to berth. It has been such a loooong wait.
A day we had been dreaming of for almost a month – the Talisman finally berthing in Melbourne.

As the Talisman finally berthed in Melbourne, (almost a month after it arrived off the Australian coast) we began to think that there might at last be light at the end of the tunnel. Still some major steps before we get our hands on the vehicle, but it just might be (as Churchill famously said) at least the “end of the beginning” of this long, drawn out process of getting back in our rig !