New Set of Wheels

Brisbane Travel Blog

 › entry 13 of 78 › view all entries

My main task here in Brisbane was to buy a car.  I was never interested in visiting Australia by bus, like most people do, jumping on the Oz-experience or the Greyhound.  Despite the fact that everyone tells you this is the best way to get around and have fun, it’s expensive, uncomfortable, you end up meeting a lot of travellers but not many locals, you don’t get to see everything you want to see and you constantly have to schedule your trip around bus timetables.  Also, I didn’t fancy the idea of stressing out over where I was going to sleep every night and how would I get there, so I ended up buying a busted up 18 years old Holden Commodore Station Wagon, big enough for me to sleep in.


I checked the notice boards of various backpackers hostel and in one place these two lovely Dutch girls approached me, with the intention of selling their car.

mobile capsule hotel
  They said they were leaving in 3 days so they were very keen to ‘negotiate’ a good price ��" ‘bet I can rip them off in big style’ I though.  Oh no, never mess with the Dutch, it turned out that they sold me the biggest pile of crap I could possibly imagine… and it didn’t even have the proper registration documents!!   How did I fall for this?  Simple, I just didn’t do my homework and paid more attention to the girls than the car, they were nice though… what a muppet! 


Here’s a few tips for anyone who’s thinking about buying a car in Australia:


1)  Check in which state the car is registered and if you are in a different state, find out what documents you need to re-register it.  Also, if you are non-resident you will probably need to turn up in person at an office to sign the new registration (rego).


2)  Check that the rego on the car is still valid and that the seller has the latest document ��" you need this to re-register the car.  In most states the rego can be renewed online, which is what most backpackers do, but the document is sent to the address where the car was first registered, often a camp site or a hostel, so most backpackers don’t have it (like in my case).  If you don’t have the latest doc you will probably have to pay a full new rego.


3)  Make sure the car has passed a recent safety certificate.  This is the equivalent of a mot test in the UK but in some states you are only required to have one if you re-register a car.  It is very bizarre but apparently you can carry on renewing the rego for decades and never have to put the car through any inspection, so technically it is still legal to drive it even though the car is a ticking bomb… like mine :-)


Appallingly, I failed to carry out any of these checks and ended up with a big headache, trust those Dutch!!  I took the car to a garage for the ‘safety inspection’ and when I got it back they showed me a list of faults, I’ve copied it down because it’s quite funny in a sad way:


Items req: odometer doesn’t work; no headlights; no break lights; no numberplate lights; r/h reverse light; F wipers don’t work; hand break not disengaging properly; r/h/r outer door handle missing; r/h/f window channel missing; all door rubbers badly worn; rear wiper arm missing; spare tyre warn; rear washer bottle loose; steering wheel grip loose; bonnet release broken; bearing tops cracked; oil psi switch; sump gasket; t/c gasket; z bar bushes; rear main; panhard rod bushes; rear exhaust hangers; f exhaust missing; auto cooler hoses transmission leaks; engine mounts; gearbox mounts; cat converter cracked; F pads and rotors; R shock bushes; upper and lower trailing arm bushes; rack leaking into boots; F & R D bushes; F control arm bushes; F ball joints.  (That’s 35 faults!!) 


Can you imagine how much they laughed at me when I told them that I was planning to drive to Adelaide from Brisbane?  Oh yes, very, very funny!  I think one of them said that I had a better chance of getting there on the back of a kangaroo.


With no safety certificate, I thought I had no chance of getting a new registration, but my uncle proved me wrong.  He’s resident in South Australia (where the car is registered) and was able to get a brand new rego in his name without showing any documents at all!  Let alone a safety certificate! 


For my own safety, I spent the next 2 weeks making friends at the scrap yards and replacing what I could with second hand parts.  I also got some bits and pieces from a very nice Kiwi chap, Roger, who saw me working on my car in the street and offered some spares from an old Commodore sat on his drive, cheers Rog!  I think I managed to fix all major faults, but we’ll see when I’m on the road… I like surprises :-)  


Like most backpackers I’ve given my car a cheesy name, she’s now called Bella, she may be an old bag but to me she is still beautiful.  I’ve also bought a little mattress and Janet gave me some curtains, which Kerry, our neighbour, cut to size.  The result is pretty impressive, when I jumped in the back and stretched out on the mattress, it felt very comfortable, a bit claustrophobic but I can handle it, my own mobile capsule hotel!  


My final acquisition before I set of on my long drive was a Sat Nav.  I did a search on ebay and found a local Chinese dude who imported the latest affordable sat navs directly from Hong Kong, another bargain :-)  I bought one and picked it up personally.  It’s a pretty good gismo and I’m more than happy with it, apart from the fact that I had to learn a few Chinese characters to use it!

aiohdmg says:
I cannot stop laughing when i image how face u are, when the garage show u 35 faults list!!
Hehehe..MY question is..are u still sure that Bella can bring u over Ozzz!?

BTW, i smell a lot of fun and crazy trip!!!
If i were u..i will say..Bella!!!
Pls be a good Gal, Babie!!


Posted on: Nov 05, 2008
alicegourmet says:
That's interesting! I hope you can have a lot of fun with your Bella!
Posted on: Jul 28, 2008
richwavfc says:
Cheers for pointing me in the direction of this post, very useful
Posted on: Jun 14, 2008
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photo by: Mezmerized