D9 Caterpillar digging down to the opal level at John Dunstan's Lambina opal mine during our 2000 opal buying trip to Australia.
6/10/2000 Day started early 5:00 A.M. getting mom and dad downtown for the Strawberry Festival. On arriving back home, we noticed water leaking out from under the front step (from the sprinkler system)—oh no!! Put our plumber and good friend, Tom Staycheff, in charge of repairs while we are gone. Steve took our inventory of opals to Tom’s for safe keeping while in Australia and came home with radiator fluid leaking under the car. Head gasket? Radiator hose? We decided to wait till we returned from the trip before tackling the car.
Tied up our tomatoe plants and got red stain, from the new landscaping timbers, all over our clothes. Settled for a glass of ice tea on the deck….Steve sat on a very wet cushion! Changed clothes again.
Do we dare fly to Australia today?
Boarded the 1:00PM Delta flight to Salt Lake City…good flight and on time. Easy connection to LA…Delta again. Another good flight and on time. We had a 7 hour lay over in LA Looking for Air New Zealand gates—told to go to terminal 2- a ½ hour walk. Got there, and told to go to terminal 6-where we had just come from. United handles Air New Zealand international flights. Back we went- -was sunny and breezy—I guess a very good day for a walk. Supper at a Mexican place in the airport. Passed the time reading and playing cribbage. Boarded a very crowded plane at 10:05 P.M. 10 seats across _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ We got the center 2. Very cramped…I should have avoided drinking that last cup of coffee. Off we go! 14 ½ hour flight to Melbourne Australia!
Missed the 11th of June crossing the international date line. Arrived in Melbourne Australia at 6:20 A.M. on the morning of the 12th.
Panoramic view along the gorgeous Ocean Road South West of Melbourne.
6/12/2000: Went through customs and headed for some morning coffee and a find a place to wash up and change clothes. Needed to catch a cab to the Maui Campervan rental…stepped outside the airport where cabs are located, saw a cab who was letting someone out…asked if he could help us…of course the cabby said yes…then the security guard approached us and the driver stating it doesn’t work that way. We were supposed to stand in the line for cabs even though there wasn’t one. We were then directed to the proper cab.
Our driver was an emigrant from Egypt…streets are very busy and narrow…it is a holiday in Oz today…the Queen’s birthday. He informed us about the traffic lights…and cameras.
We got our van…larger and wider than we expected. Having a hard time with travel…drive on left side of the road, with the steering wheel on the right side…getting out of Melbourne a real trick! Constantly turning the windshield (windscreen here) wipers on instead of turn signal and getting into the passengers seat instead of drivers seat.
Finally we get on West Gate Interstate-even that is nerve wracking. Then onto A1 Princess Highway 4 lane heading …oh the relief when we left the crowded Melbourne traffic behind. We were finally on our way past Geelong and onto Great Ocean Road.
Lunch at a Sandwich Shop in Torquay–can see the ocean, a hand glider, and people walking along the beach—low tide. Took a walk down to the beach and viewed the tidal pools. Finally, it is sunny out. Have seen cattle, sheep, and horses…lovely trees. Discovered our first round about in the road…turning to the left instead of right…driving is tense work.
Love the ocean highway…very scenic…stopped a number of times to allow faster traffic to pass, walked down to the ocean front to look at the tide pools, snails, starfish, etc. Could not take the wild drivers, heavy traffic……turned north at Skenes Creek to get off of this narrow busy road. Now this was much more relaxed and lovely drive too…more of a rain forest, rather than ocean front/mountainside with steep cliffs. Drove along quaint lonely country roads and unwound from the busy seaside traffic due to the Queens Birthday holiday. Spent the night in the camper at a rest stop almost to Warrnambool.
Historic Lighthouse just next to our caravan park.
6/13/2000: Tried out the shower in our little campervan and it worked great! Drove to Warrnambool and got some groceries, lunch, a hair curler and blow dryer. Electrical is different than back home-240 volts and 50 hertz. Have seen signs to watch for kangaroos and koala bears but have not seen any yet. At the grocery store, I saw a sign for “easy, peasy, mincy meals”….(hamburger meals), tried “dim sums” – small egg roll type of finger food. “Skivvies” are turtlenecks.
Stopped at a pullout area on the road…for a little break and a pot of coffee, sighted a parrot type of bird…gray bird with bright orange/red undersides. Gorgeous! The bird turned out to be a Galah which we later decided was our favorite Australian bird…plentiful and seemingly carefree birds with a raucous, but still enjoyable call.
Traveled to Kingston today…camped at the Kingston Caravan Park (campsite) on the ocean. Very clean and well kept. The lawns were just beautiful! And we so enjoyed the large Norfolk Island pines that enhanced the caravan parks shoreline. But we were frustrated as we couldn’t get to the water. Tons of sea grass had been blown up by an earlier storm, covering the lovely white sand shore…very thick and hard to walk through. An historic lighthouse is located here (1872 built at Cape Jaffa-served over 100 years). Ate supper at the Crown Inn and early to bed.
6/14/2000: Woke early, showered at the campground, breakfast in the camper. Collected a few shells in the seaweed. Loved the Norfolk Island Pine trees here. Gassed up in Kingston, and headed toward Adelaide. Saw a few emu and goats in with sheep flocks.
Still having trouble with driving on the left, the narrower roads and the wider campervan. Not as many trees on this drive, but very lush and green just the same. Most rural mail boxes are 15-30 gallon drums on posts. Drums are mounted horizontal.
Traveled along the Coorang, saw a large (big red) kangaroo hop across the road (6’ or more). We have had a horrible rattle by the hood (bonnet here) in this vehicle since we picked it up. Steve finally inspected it and found the latch was loose, so a temporary fix was to wedge a stick under the hood—ah, much better. Strong head winds all day, poor mileage, and poor speed. Saw 2 smaller kangaroos (grays) by the side of the road in the brush. Landscape is getting dryer, less trees, more sand, and a few irrigation systems. A lovely sunny day. Lunch in the camper. Made it through Adelaide…oh my…tough going with all the traffic. On the north side of Adelaide, we saw many greenhouses, commercial gardens and our first vineyards.
Other phrases we have noted: roadhouse is a gas station, road train is a semi with several trailers, grid is a cattle guard.
Fall here is like our spring…crops coming up, very green, and it’s the rainy season. Must be a second season for cool hardy crops.
Pulled into Port Augusta 6:30 P.M. Fixed supper in the camper, read awhile, to sleep. It gets dark around 6:00 P.M. Long, long drive today.
6/15/2000: Slept in a bit, showered and had breakfast in the camper. Got on the road about 9:30. Another sunny day. Today we are headed for Coober Pedy (321 km to go). The ground is now red… looks like clay soil but is really more sandy, not as many trees in this northern territory, many shrubs, and saltbush (looks like sage). Winds came up, saw many young kangaroo road kill—they must be on the move in the evening hours. Stopped at the pull-out to take some pictures of the land. Saw a large emu in the wild off of the road. Not much for trees now. Stopped and had a pastry for a snack-gassed up at Pimba. About 2 PM we saw about a dozen emu in the wild, tried to take pictures but they really blend into the landscape. Also have been seeing their eagles (dark colored bird, not as large as the bald or golden of home—wedgetailed eagle). We stopped in Glendambo for fuel, asked about the kangaroos…clerk smiled and said they had a few penned up with some emus if we wanted a close up view…we did….fed them and took their pictures. (2 young roos, 3 emus, and a mama roo with a joey in her pouch, and a big daddy roo). Kangaroo fur is soft like a rabbits. They ate from our hands.
Discovered how good orange/mango juice is, sassparillas (rootbeer, licorice cross drink), and Magnum ice cream bars. They have huge calamari here.
Into Coober Pedy around supper time-checked into a caravan park- a space between 2 others under a canopy on the gravel. Hookups for electrical, no water available. Have to fill up the campervan at the water treatment plant. Must pay for showers in the A.M. They have water here, but using reverse osmosis for purification, it is very expensive. Walked to supper at “Tom and Mary’s Greek Taverna”. Back to bed in the camper.
Our friend Edward Radeka who we met over the internet. He was a great help to us in our search for opal parcels...and a wonderful guide and host!
6/16/2000: Got up, took showers, went to find the Bed and Breakfast that we had previously booked. We found one, but not the right one. Landscape here can only be described by pictures….a desert, full of sandy mounds, lots of discarded mining equipment, homes and shops are dugouts, very dirty, dusty town (opal capital of the world). Stopped inside of a shop underground (The Opal Cutter). As we visited this lovely shop, Barbara called the owner (Joe & Anne Johnson) of the B & B…he came and got us. The B & B is a place attached to a closed supper club-underground. Joe took us to our accommodations…
Breakfast at one of the establishments…ordered sausage and eggs, got a wiener and eggs. I hate hotdogs. No more sausage for me in C.P. Off to the bank we went, where we had previously transferred our opal buying money. We needed to show proof of identity (passport and drivers license) in order to withdraw any money. Can’t withdraw any money, because they don’t have any cash in the bank. You have to order it, and then it only comes in on Wednesdays. Well, we needed money before then. We ordered some anyway. The teller told us to come back at 4:00 P.M. today, and she would see if there was any money left in the bank that we could have by day’s end. Back to “The Opal Cutter” for some advice. They pulled a few strings and freed up some money. We were able to get 40% of our money out at day’s end. Unloaded the camper into the B & B and decided to wash clothes. We secured some phone numbers while we spoke w/Barbara. While I washed clothes, Steve went back to the bank to cash some Travelers Checks into Australian dollars. No one want travelers checks in Australia…they are really just a nuisance. Live and learn.
Lengthy conversation with Barbara and Piet at the Opal Cutter. He had parcels for us to look at. They offered to loan us $20,000.00 (we declined) in case we weren’t able to get our money out of the bank.
We were quite nervous about having the cash on us.
In the evening 2 men came knocking at our door…we didn’t know them. Edward Radeka and his friend Kevin. We have been corresponding with Ed for the last 2 years over the Internet….Kevin was VERY rough looking. We had a great visit with the two of them. We made plans to go with Ed to see an underground mine at 10 A.M. in the morning. He may know of some parcels, he will scout. His friend’s mining operation suffered a broken blower today. Supper at The Opal Inn—looking for Joe but didn’t see him. Walked to Joe and Anne’s place and had a good visit there. Joe is scouting parcels for us too. Home to bed.
Awakened at 2:00 A.M. Rowdy people outside with a dog. Basically it is very dark, cool and quiet in the dugout. Had a hard time going back to sleep.
Olympic Field mullock heaps and shafts. Shafts aren't marked or protected, so don't walk backwards when taking photos.
6/17/2000: Cooked breakfast between the camper and the B&B, showered and washed dishes. Met with Ed Radeka and headed for his claim in the well respected Olympic Field south west of Coober Pedy. Olympic was discovered in 1964 and is one of the largest producers of gem grade opal known for it’s stability. Amid the disorganized maze of mine shafts and mullock heaps we found Ed’s fathers old claim. At his shaft, we donned hard hats, and filled a drum full of lights (including a black light, as opal fluoresces a pale blue, under black light). Down we went 60’ climbing a ladder (rungs 1’ apart) down into a deep dark hole, 1 meter in diameter. Steve went first, Darlene second, and Ed third. We walked, crawled, and creeped our way through the tunnels examining, exploring, digging, and questioning. This shaft was excavated using explosives and picks without the benefit of modern tunneling machines. We used the black light to help us find traces of opal and though we didn’t find much, it was eye-opening, and revealed a new appreciation for the underground miners. In one location Steve asked Ed why the floor was so flat…Ed replied that the a slab in the ceiling must have recently come down…might be time to head up to the surface. Finally we came up the shaft, pulled up the ladder, hooked the trailer affair to the vehicle, and went to a late lunch.
We visited Ed’s mom at her home for a bit. She designs and creates gold settings for opals. Didn’t stay long as she has cats…and Steve is allergic to cats. Drove out to a miner’s home with Ed, he wasn’t home. Got some Benedryl for Steve and his allergies, and then back to Ed’s mom’s place. Lovely opal jewelry. Ed drove us by David Arnold’s place before taking us back to the dugout. Home by 6:00 P.M. Stopped by Joe and Anne’s place, but he wasn’t home. Plan to see the Breakaways Reserve tomorrow with Ed.
Aerial view of the breakaways taken during my 2007 trip to Oz.
6/18/00: Awakened at 6:45 A.M. to go to the bathroom. Still very dark in the dugout. As I walked, I bumped into the thick glass door that divides the main part of the dugout from the bathroom with my left knee. And the glass shattered into a million pieces. Steve thought somebody was trying to break in. We had a LOT of opal buying cash and opals. I could not reach the light switch, nor did I dare move, knowing there was glass everywhere. Steve came out holding a rock pick in his hand expecting to confront a burglar. After Steve composed himself and got the lights turned on, he gently moved me to a seat, began cleaning up the broken glass and mopped up the blood from my cut knee. Deep cut, and should have had stitches, but we had brought a well stocked first aid kit, and took care of it ourselves. Off to breakfast, and then over to Joe and Anne’s to tell them about the door. While we there there, Joe lined us up with a miner working in Lambina…Johnny Dunston We will meet with him later today to look at opal parcels. Stopped at the Underground Book Store and bought some more opal books and other treasures. Made sandwiches at the dugout…and then Steve walked over to the car rental place “Budget” to see about renting a vehicle to travel to Lambina on Tuesday. Our campervan won’t make this trip across a single lane track through the outback…a 4 wheel drive will be needed.
In the afternoon, we traveled with Ed to see other opal-fields, sunset at the Breakaways, a few kangaroos, the dingo fence, fossils, etc. Sunset at the Breakaways was grand…watching the sun disappear into the lonely Australian red center. Discovered Steve’s camera has not been working properly, and all pictures taken to this date will not be salvageable. Back to town. Briefly stopped to tell miner John Dunston we’d be back in an hour to look at opal. Supper at “Tom and Mary’s” and then to John’s home. John has 3 very protective dogs around his place for security. Bought a parcel from John (Lambina opal) and shared conversation. Home to bed.
Our large dugout B&B. The rooms were completely underground. The walls are the native opal bearing bulldog shale bedrock...cool, quiet and comfortable.
6/19/00: Breakfast at “The Last Resort” and then out of town to meet with Dave and Carol Arnold to see opal and talk about a web page. Good visit, bought a small parcel, and then made an appointment for Tuesday for web page design. Their home was just lovely…a 2 story dugout design…very well done and neat and tidy. Lunch at the pub with Joe. He hooked us up with a miner…Nick…appointment to see him at 4:00 today.
Tour of the TAFE (Australian National Vo-Tech Schools) today with Ed…on opal cutting. Met Stuart Jackson, instructor and miner, who runs the opal cutting classes. Good information.
Walked down to “Star Opal” shop to meet the owners who are also miners…Robert and Dave McCormick. At 2:30 PM, met with an opal buyer, Tony Wong. Good visit. Appointment to look at opal at 10:00 AM on Wednesday.
4:00 met with Nick to look at opal. We bought a parcel from Lambina, and then shared conversation over coffee. Nick was an old opal miner who shared many stories of the “glory” days of opal ming in Mintabie and his million dollar strike.
Stopped at the Opal Cutter’s to pay for parcel that we had purchased a few days earlier. Made plans to join them for supper on Wednesday, in their home….Kangaroo is on the menu! Walked to “Budget” to change dates for the 4 wheel drive vehicle….as Thursday will be a better day for us…and the bank will have some money for us by then! Supper at Umberto’s (tasted crocodile and kangaroo), and then home to the dugout…banged cut knee today and it needed some extra attention. Indulged in a hard earned rest………zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
David and Carol Arnold graciously invited us into their lovely dugout home and provided us with a sumptuous Australian barbeque dinner.
6/20/00: Got up a bit later than planned. Quick breakfast of cereal and toast at the dugout. Off to David and Carol’s. David took us to some more mining fields. Steve and he went down the shaft via a tractor seat sling with a winch…let themselves down 1 at a time into a 60’ foot shaft. A miner was in the mine working…in large ballroom type design…where a vertical tunneling machine and blower were in operation. This miner was all smiles, as he was on opal! David took us to see what was left of some equipment…there had been an equipment bombing the night before…a miner was giving a payback to a night shifter (term used to describe a miner who steals another opal miners opal at night when the mine is deserted) who had been stealing his opal. All miners are experts in the explosive department.
We enjoyed a barbeque lunch with David and Carol. Steve and David worked on a web page design for our opal business.
Supper at a Chinese restaurant with opal dealer Tony Wong, and Ed and family. There were 8 of us for dinner. Tomorrow we meet with Tony, wash clothes, and try to be tourists for a few moments.
Steve heading down 60 feet into a VERY successful opal mine with David Arnold.
6/21/00: Breakfast at “The Last Resort”. 10:00 appointment with Tony Wong to see opal. Possibility…but no purchase made. To the bank to cash more travelers checks, and off to do laundry. While I washed clothes, Steve met with Bosco (miner) who had a small parcel. Met Nick met us at the laundry to look at another parcel…No sale. Lunch at “The Last Resort with miner Nick. Met Deiter and Lorraine from “The Opal Cave”. Stopped at “The Opal Cutter” to set a time for dinner that evening – 7:00 P.M. Steve went to the bank to pick up the rest of our money for opals. I walked to the Opal Cave to determine a time to look at their rough parcel that was for sale. Set for 11:00 A.M. on Friday. Back to dugout to clean up and put away the laundry. Showered up…and gave up on being a tourist for a few hours! Dinner at the Lamont’s home for Kangaroo!!!!! Delicious and tastes like beef… Walked to “Budget” to confirm the vehicle rental for Thursday.
Darlene standing in the location where John Dunston had recently removed a $500,000 opal deposit in Lambina opalfield.
6/22/00: Up early to head for Lambina opal fields in our 4 WD “Ute”. Good ½ day drive each way. We can’t travel too fast this early in the day due to the ‘roos on the road. Absolutely lovely drive. Very rough road after the Marla turnoff. On the drive along a single lane track we saw huge castle-like termite mounds, lots of green lorakeets and rugged red escarpments in this beautiful, but almost forbidding, terrain. Met John Dunston’s friend Gordon, an older opal buyer. John showed us the diggings…open cut mining here…lots of conversation and stories before the trade of opal and money (from the purchase a couple of nights ago). Set another appointment time at John’s home for Friday evening to look at more opal. On the way home, we stopped at the nearby Broken Leg diggings, where there had been a little work done recently. Back to Coober Pedy, gassed up the rental, grabbed a bite to eat at “Tracy’s”, returned the vehicle—and got another lead on a parcel of opal—-. Home by 9:30 P.M.
Wedge Tailed eagle feasting on a road kill kangaroo seen along the Stuart Highway, on the drive to Lambina.
6/23/00: Up fairly early. Phone call to Tony Wong, post poning visit until Saturday A.M. Call to Arnold’s re-arranging time for them, 3 calls to miners, 1 call to Joe to check on these new miners. International call to Tom Staycheff…many tries before a successful connection…to check on things with our house. Back to dugout to package up some things -pictures- to be sent home. Wanting a quiet day….another miner contacted Joe-he’ll be here shortly to show us a parcel. Arrived, looked, but no sale. Laundry needed to be done again. While I washed, Steve looked at another parcel. Bought a small one (Borro). Out to the underground pottery shop and stopped next door at the Arnold’s to say goodbye. Visited with opal buyer Andy Lam while we were there. No purchase. Supper at John’s Pizza and browsed at the mining displays at the Desert Cave. Met with miner John about another parcel. Good visit with John and his wife Yoka, made a purchase. Viewed his collection of Harry Newman’s paintings. Home to bed by 10:30 P.M.
6/24/00: Up early and thoroughly cleaned the camper for our upcoming trip. Breakfast at our dugout. Stopped to say goodbye to Piet and Barbara at the “Opal Cutter”. Filled up with petrol at the Ampol Station and out of town by 9:30. Heading for Adelaide 845 km away. Sounds like a long way, but its only 507 miles…only?
Our plans are the next few days to head down the Fleurieu Peninsula to Cape Jervis. Then catch the ferry to Kangaroo Island spending a day on a bus tour letting someone else do the driving. Then head back up to Adelaide for the flights home.
We are glad to be done with buying opal from the miners for this trip…we begin our homeward journey. The stressful part is over!
Road trip uneventful. Very easy to get sleepy. Shortly after Glendambo, we pulled over and took a 1 hr nap.
Stopped at a rest area near Lake Hart. Hiked down to the lake and saw huge salt mounds beside a railroad track…noted that the ties on the track are cement instead of wood. Spent the night at the Shoreline Caravan Park in Port Augusta, located at the head of Spencer Gulf. Supper in the camper, played cribbage (Darlene won) and read books. Again we looked at our opal purchases…second guessing our decisions.
Road leading from our caravan park to the fishing jetty...lovely hike.
6/25/00: Cold cereal (Kellog’s Just Right) along with our favorite mango/orange juice blend…breakfast in the camper. On the road by 9:30 A.M. on to Adelaide. Lunch in the camper. Missed one turn going into the city so Steve, driving with Darlenes navigational instructions, threaded his way through Adelaide traffic. Wild ride!
South of Adelaide, we made our way to Normanville for a grocery stop, passing through towns with names like Myponga, Noarlunga, Aldinga and Yankalilla. And not far south of Normanville we found a small caravan park in a delightful location: Second Valley. It was winter here so most travelers are heading north to warmer climates. Which left an almost deserted caravan park to ourselves. Probably due to the fact it’s not tourist season, I think there were only 3 other campers staying here. Loads of birds to serenade us! The Australian crows have a mournful almost crying call. And after a dinner in the camper we walked down to a jetty to view the magnificent stars in the southern hemisphere. It was a clear calm night and the bright stars looked like we could almost reach out and touch them. Wonderful views of the 5 star Southern Cross constellation or Crux (Latin for cross). Great memories of this caravan park and small village.
Seal Beach on Kangaroo Island. The rain and clouds finally cleared!
6/26/00: Even though this was a working holiday we managed to get in a whole day as tourists. So we booked a one day bus tour to Kangaroo Island. Very windy, rainy, and rough waters to be taking a 1 hr ferry across to the island. Caught the SeaLink ferry at Cape Jervis and disembarked at Penneshaw. And once there, the bus was waiting for us and the weather cleared. We chose the front most bus seats for better viewing. The bus was lovely with modern and very comfortable seats. Was a joy to leave the driving to someone else, if even for a short while. Took a ride and saw: Seal Bay, koala bears, many wild plants, flowers, birds, Admiral’s Arch, Remarkable Rocks, fur seals, Kangaroo Island kangaroos, native ducks, wallabies, galahs, fairy penguins, and echidnas.
Just before boarding the ferry back to the mainland, the wind and rain had returned with a vengeance. We were handed a boxed lunch supper (sandwich, juice, and candy bar) and put on the ferry. The waters were very rough at this point, was after dark. About 80% of the passengers were very ill…Darlene included. Steve was not sick…the salty old sea dog.
In the wind and rain, we traveled back to Second Valley to camp another night…supper for Steve consisted of cold cereal…nothing for Darlene. Note: Steve was disappointed as we had planned to have a nice seafood dinner at Cape Jervis…but he made the best of it by having 2 bowls of cereal.
6/27/00: That morning we both slept in late as Darlene still wasn’t over the effects of here sea-sickness. Departed our little bird sanctuary in Second Valley for a breakfast stop in Normanville. Picked up the Dukes Highway (A8) at Tailem Bend. Good road, and not so hilly. But not as lush of a countryside either. Traveled through: Coomandook, Coonalpyn, Culburra Tintanara, Brimbago, Cannawigara and finally Bordertown…where we stopped early for the night to wash clothes. The camp site had a laundry, but after washing a couple of loads, we discovered the dryer wasn’t working. We took our laundry, wet and dry, and finished it up in the community laundromat in town. Fixed supper in the camper, while we washed and dried clothes…sure is convenient having the campervan.
Upon returning to our campsite, we discovered a school bus full of teenagers (36 of them), had pitched their tents, all on one site…right next to us. So we moved to a quieter campsite across the park. Cold rain and wind all night…felt sorry for the poor young campers.
6/28/00: Early breakfast in the camper…we had a long drive…about 400km. Headed down Highway A8 for the entire trip. Very nice road…widem shoulders and great condition. At 10:00 A.M. we entered the State of Victoria. Enjoyed the rainbows and birds today. Camped in Ballan, ate supper in the camper, and began organizing our things. Tomorrow night we will stay in a hotel by the airport…YES!!
Notes of interest: Not many US made cars here…Ford cars have old 60’s and 70’s vintage names Fairlanes and Falcons. Chevrolet are called Holdens here.
6/29/00: On into Melbourne. Trying to find the Maui dealer to return the camper was definitely an art. Darlene had to get out of the campervan while I circled the block (no parking available) in Melbourne’s China town, to ask directions from an Asian man, who spoke only limited English, so we could fine the campervan depot. We were successful, but tired of driving this thing in the crowded and narrow Melbourne streets! Called a cab to a hotel near the airport….arrived at the Centra. Had a nice lunch there, and then…a hot bath!! And a nap for the both of us! We were very lazy until about 8:30 P.M. and then had a late supper. Back to bed.
6/30/00: Up early 6:00 A.M. readying and off to the airport. Breakfast – light – through customs, checked baggage…flight left about 10:00 A.M. to LAX. Arrived in L.A in 13 ½ hours…we did not sleep…a young school band was on flight with us, and the majority of the place was filled with young teens…not much sleep for anyone! Going through customs in the states turned into a mix-up. Told we needed a customs broker to handle our customs paperwork. But if we waited for a broker we would miss our connecting flights…non refundable. So customs said they would forward the opals to Billings to have them processed there. We agreed. Packaged the opals…and waited for our flight to Salt Lake City. 3 hour layover. 1 ½ hr flight to SLC…another good flight. 1 hour layover, and a 1 ½ hr flight to Billings, in a much smaller plane. Turbulence over SLC both in landing and take off. Glad to be in Billings…arrived at 4:30 P.M. Called a cab to take us home. It was 96 degrees in Billings! But it was still wonderful to be home.
Friday night Denver called, said our opals were there…they will send them to Billings to go through a customs broker here.
Sunday, Denver called waiting for paperwork, did not send the opals to Billings, and said we needed to secure a broker in Denver. They faxed us a list of brokers.
Monday, I called a broker and got the paperwork started. Thursday the opals arrived.
Lesson learned: Post opals directly home through the Australian Post.