Re: Brisbane to Darwin - impressions
There was no problem clearing into Oz, just expense. You have to get a visa ahead of time but you can do that over the internet (don't get me started on why a visa is needed from another Commonwealth country). We got a one-year, multi-entry visa that was AU$105 per person. On arrival, the customs/immigration/quarantine officials were very friendly and professional, but the quarantine inspection was $330 and for that they take away your garbage and any food that might be problematic (fruits, veggies, meat, eggs, etc). Forgot, you also need to tell them you are coming. They have gotten rid of the 8 hour rule. We just sent an email from Vanuatu to say we were on our way.
There are also internal restrictions. If you go to Thursday Island which is the main Aussie town in the Torres Strait (from within Australia) you must go through the quarantine process again. We are sitting at anchor in Darwin waiting for an inspection of the bottom of the boat and the through-hulls before being allowed into a marina here. This is a state process to keep out invasive species. For a country with very easy-going people, Australia has an incredible number of rules.
To Chall, we have very much enjoyed our visit to Oz. People are great, prices are a bit high though.
Back to Grenada in early December. Not sure I will remember how to sail. Will spend the winter and early spring in the Caribbean and then head to Bermuda and the northeast US. Still trying to decide if we will bring the boat to Canada, either in 2015 or 2016.