23 October 2010

Unaccompanied Personal Effects

3 different views of our pallet while in Madison

Our pallet of boxes arrived at the port in Sydney. What to take and what to leave behind was my job.

First I got estimates from moving companies about shipping all our furniture, and other goods. We did not have enough to fill a container. The cost to move everything was over $5k US dollars - an amount that didn't make sense to me. Much better to buy new then ship the old. We decided to send the things that would make our place in Australia feel more like "home".

In the end, I packed 24 boxes including 2 bikes, 3 boxes of books, pictures, a box of important papers, comforters, 3 boxes of toys, and special Christmas ornaments. It total, it weighed over 500 pounds (238 kilograms) and cost $1700 to ship from our house in Madison to the port in Sydney.
3 different views of our pallet while in Madison

Once the shipment had arrived in Sydney, I had 3 days to collect our stuff - any delay would result in a daily storage fee. We removed the rear seat from the "big" car. I planned my trip. Then I loaded Tristan and Neo into the car, and we drove to Sydney.

The shipment receiving company charged us $500 in fees. We found the company near the Sydney airport. We collected the documents drove to (30 minutes) to Customs.

Customs asked for the documents and a packing list, which I provided them. I was then sent to Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. AQIS wanted to inspect specifically the bikes and the pallet - to be sure it had been properly fumigated. If the pallet did not meet the requirements, the entire shipment would be quarantined. There are specific things AQIS is looking for - and they will quarantine and/or fumigate items and in some cases confiscate things. High on the list of prohibited items: Meat, animal goods, wood, plants and plant material. I knew the list and did not pack anything that would cause a problem.

We paid the fee for the inspection and drove the 40 minutes to another warehouse. Once there, we were told AQIS had not begun their inspection, but that a fee had to be paid to the warehouse for the inspection to proceed in their facilities. I had to go to the ATM (another 10 minute drive each way) to collect cash to pay this fee. When we returned with the cash, we had to wait another 10 minutes for the inspection to be completed. Everything passed - which I knew it would.

A fork lift brought our pallet to the car. Two workers and I moved the boxes into the car - and it all fit! Just barely room for everything. With the car fully loaded, and difficult to see (couldn't use the review mirror - but used the side mirrors a lot), I drove home.

Everyone was so excited to see their possessions again. "It's like Christmas,"Tristan said. Indeed it was.

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