The big clean before the groot trek

Our joyous days arrived somewhere during the year of 2008. The year of the loadshedding advent. The job offer was approved and accepted and the company agreed to pay for our trek. And a trek it was. The people of the moving companies came and quoted and above all advised on the cleaning of our humble possessions.

Ai jai jai… the cleaning that took place in the Venter household still has me smiling almost 7 years later. I have never had such clean and germ free furniture after that!

I have never cleaned ANYTHING as thoroughly as I did during those weeks. I scrubbed our shoes and washed the soles. I cleaned the garden table with bicarb, and lemon juice (ecofriendly you know) and then decided ‘stuff this’ lets get Handy Andy by the half litre and get it clean. I steam cleaned it after that – no germ would have ever survived. We washed the chairs, and then I steam cleaned the red dirt from under the legs.

My hubby got rid of most of the tools that he had doubles of, (our motto – if one is good two are better) then dipped the remaining spanners in a liquid that got all the rust off and spray painted them a very cool matte black! The equipment was dusted and washed (safely of course) and degreased.

While we cleaned we wondered, ‘Why do we have so much stuff? Will we need this ever again?’

The information we received was so contradicting that we decided to err on the safe side. I painted a pine unvarnished futon a hideous brown, with the undertaking to sand it down when we arrive this side. It never happened and I gave it away after a few years. I defaced a beautifully hand crafted bedside table (a woodwork project of my hubby) with the same hideous brown paint. With the same undertaking. It never happened and is now the bedside table in our son’s bedroom.

We were warned not to hide biltong in the golfbag or for that matter in the shoes. (Why would I do that?) We were told not to pack any food tins – why the issue when it is sealed? But we have seen border patrol television programs and we are scared of the big bulky dudes who do not take any ‘nonsens van kaboutertjies’.

Dear Migrant to the Great South Land,

Australian border security wants to make sure that you do not bring in timber pests, exotic weed seeds or animal products. (You think dagga and rhino horn, they think biltong and droëwors – bring neither.  They do enjoy the latter quite a bit though, but a bribe does not work here.) They have been able to combat the fruitfly successfully for the past couple of years. Please do not think that your container will be spared an investigation – have you ever heard of Murphy’s law? It will apply the moment you try your luck. A couple of hundred dollars are a LOT OF MONEY when you are still paying in Rands. My mum sent me fruit leaves (gedroogde vrugterol) once and I received a letter from these guys saying that they will overlook it this time, but please do not do it again.

While you have access to help at much cheaper labour rates than here – use it. Clean your machinery, garden furniture, vacuum your furniture and make sure the animal hairs are gone, you can come and buy new waste bins and brooms here, it is really not that expensive. If you have water sporting equipment dry it (chances are you will be staying near a mass of water – bring it). Put wrapping papers available from the moving company in your washing machine to stop it going mouldy on the boat trip. Same applies to your fridge/freezer.

Though we live on a different continent you will be able to get rooibos tea, biltong and droëwors, muffin mix, Mrs. Balls and most of the favourites. And come on – you are coming to a new country, it is time that you teach your tastebuds the delights of coffee sipped through TimTams. You will get South African Wines here as well.

What happens when the quarantine guys deem your humble possessions a biosecurity risk? You have three choices all at your expense.
treat it
destroy it
export it.

What are the treatments?

Steam cleaning, fumigation, gamma irradiation, heat treatment.

What must you do to make sure that you do the right thing? Visit the following website:
If there is anything that you are unsure of, drop them an email, they will get back to you.

It feels like christmas in the 80s when your trek arrives at the front door of your new home Down Under. You lovingly stroke over the old beat up lounge suite, you sigh as your back hits your familiar mattress. You drink cup after cup of coffee from your heirloom mugs. And you start getting that feeling of ‘this is home now’. The home does not echo your footsteps anymore and your voice is cushioned by the contents that have now filled the spaces.  You do not feel like a camper anymore.

Six months from now you will start asking yourself the question where all the additional stuff came from and you will learn the lesson that things beget things. But they are your things and they are the memories that you hug tight on those days when you miss your people like crazy.

Not everyone brings a container. You do not have to. You will be able to survive and even flourish with only suitcases in hand. I know many people who did exactly that. They came and the Aussie mateship got them on their feet. Should you decide to travel light – do it. You’ll be all right too, mate.

Until then, for those of you that are busy cleaning, “Sterkte ou swaer, sterkte!”



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