Are not to be dismissed whether they apply to Rugby, their very own game which they are immensely proud of, or to Customs and Excise. In fact dare I say it everything here is governed by clear rules and Australians and by extension all others who live here like us, seem to be extremely law abiding and compliant. Not a bad thing I know after the unruliness and the lack of any clear guidelines from a place that shall remain nameless but which you can probably all guess.
So packing the container was an art form. We were advised - no food, so copious quantities of halloumi went to my lovely neighbour in Delhi and no spices, so such that I had went to my landlady. Then there was the issue of no earth or dirt on garden furniture and tents. That is a big no no and god forbid that you should have any skins, plants, bones or other such items. So the massive giraffe bone had to be taken to London and the skulls to the flat. In spite of all my careful planning though I was sure that we had inadvertently left or included " offending items" which we knew would be confiscated or perhaps fumigated or both. Bits of wood on which we hung our batiks from Africa. Termite free we hoped but that was not something you could assess properly on a cursory glance as the Indian packer was wrapping paper around them. A jar half full of coffee that again the eager Indian packer had magically wrapped up before we even had time to think about it. Old wooden antiques which were dubious at the best of times. So we were anxious for our load - all forty foot of it and assumed the worst to avoid being disappointed. Fumigation, chastisement and perhaps a flogging like in the good ol' days when immigrants or convicts arrived on the shores. Don't get me wrong. I am totally sympathetic with their protectionist policy. I would be too if I had seen the country overrun by rabbits and all the other pests that occasionally brought bigger problems to this continent then they solved.
So when I heard that it had cleared customs and there was one offending item I was hugely reassured but also curious as to what is could be. I had been reasonably careful. I was told I had a choice of having the offending article fumigated for $333 or destroyed for $22.
Yes, I was surprised as you are, first because in all the forty foot this is what they found and secondly because I had carefully thrown away any Xmas decks which involved bark or dried plants - but this one dear readers was purely artificial !
So I went back to the moving company and confirmed that I would like it destroyed for $22 and then cheekily asked - why on earth does it cost $22 to destroy to which I was informed that a special man had to come along and put the "offending item" in a special bin. Gotta love 'em and their rules.