Rum Done Over
01 November 2018 | Burnett River, near Bundaberg, Queensland.
Alison and Geoff, sunny and warm
Anchored just around the corner from Port Bundaberg marina in the lower reaches of the Burnett River after what turned out to be a rather rum customs clearance in the rum city. The Border Force official (new Aussie combo of Immigration and Customs) told us that she was going to put Saraoni on a 'control permit' while in Australia or we would have to pay import tax 'immediately.' This rather bizarre decision was then revoked within a few hours by a much more clued up official (the Regional Commander) who took our control permit off us and said that Saraoni would be considered 'imported'.
Apparently Australia has a rule (that few seem to know about) that demands an Australian boat has to be 'exported' when leaving the country for any extended period, then 'imported' when it is brought back, at which point it may, or may not, attract duty. The duty is only likely to be levied if improvements have been done overseas and the boat's value increased. We never 'exported' the boat when we left Australia last in 2008, as we didn't know we had to, and no customs officials in Darwin told us we had to, hence apparently creating a dilemma. It seems that the same issue has happened quite a lot recently, something that hasn't been helped by a total lack of information on the Border Force website and inconsistent knowledge of the rules by some of the officials themselves.
Anyway, we have to hang around for a bit as we need a 'timber inspection.' We're going up the river to the city of Bundaberg, 8 miles up, and catching up with old friends and Bundaberg residents, Heather and John, who have sailed with us in PNG, Australia, New Zealand and Greece. We were last in Bundy in the 2006/2007 cyclone season when we taught for a few months in local high schools.
A small mob of roos are sheltering from the sun on one of the river banks. Herons, shags and sacred kingfishers stalk fish close by and the anchorage is calm and peaceful after a week of rocking and rolling on the ocean.