It has been a while since our past blog post and what a busy time it has been! The Reinke debacle had left us a little disillusioned with the whole marine industry – most boat brokers are worse than used car salesmen, they are only concerned about their commission and honesty and integrity are foreign concepts to them. We looked at a few more lemons (they certainly weren’t presented as lemons!) and decided we needed a different plan of action.
While looking at some options, we came across a few on-site caravans that were fairly cheap. After a little research this looked like a good option for us. Many of these on-site caravans are no more than holiday homes and the Australians have developed a rather unique way of dealing with these. The caravan – and in most cases the attached annex – is individually owned and is parked in a caravan park. The owner is allowed to use it for 150 days in any 12 month period and for no more than 21 consecutive days. After 21 days the owner has to be out of the park for 1 night to reset the clock.
We looked at a few caravan parks in New South Wales and finally settled on Jasmine Lakeside Village, about 2 hours north of Sydney. The location was perfect for us. It was on Lake Macquarie which meant that we could moor our yacht (when we eventually find one) close to the park (the Marina is about 500m from the park); there are two train stations close to the park and Margaret can catch the train to Sydney to see her family as often as she would like; and when we are traveling we can leave everything securely locked and catch the train to the airport. The park has about 150 sites; approximately 100 of the sites are for permanent residents; 40 of the sites are for holiday homes and the remaining 10 are for casual visitors.
We put an offer of A$12 000 on a very old and fairly small caravan and annex. The previous owners had started renovating the caravan but had stopped half way as they purchased a permanent home in the park. The kitchen was new and almost complete (no surprises for guessing that the new modern kitchen was an instant hit with Margaret) but the rest of the caravan and annex needed a fair amount of work.
The offer was accepted and we set about renovating the caravan and annex. Somehow these things always take longer than expected. Five months and about A$7 000 later; the bedroom had a new floor and carpet, the built in cupboards were finished, the ceiling was fixed and the room was painted; the kitchen ceiling was fixed and the room painted (this room needed the smallest amount of work); the living room floor had been repaired and a new carpet installed, the ceiling had been repaired and the room painted; and the outside of the caravan, annex and shed had been painted. We now had a semi-permanent home that we could use as a base for our travels.
We looked at a few more yachts while renovating the caravan and annex but still couldn’t find what we were looking for. With our 150 day limit fast approaching we needed to get out of the park for a while and decided we would spend a few months in Thailand. Peter had last been to Thailand about 10 years ago and Margaret had never been.
We applied for 60 day tourist visas and planned to spend a month in Koh Samui and another month in Phuket. We had initially planned to extend our visas for another 30 days and spend some time in Chiang Mai but a change in circumstances meant that this would no longer be an option.
Before heading off to Thailand we took a two week trip to New Zealand to visit Peter’s daughter who was having a birthday.
Next stop Thailand – Land of Smiles.