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Nuon Solar Team goes to Australia!

Posted on 05-10-2017

The time has finally arrived on Thursday morning. The big wooden flight case which contains not only all our equipment but also the solar car we’ve spent so much time on the past year is put on a truck by a forklift. Wobbling its way onto the truck, everyone was holding their breath until the flight case was standing on the truck safely. When the truck is finally on its way to Schiphol Airport it felt a bit surreal. What do we do now?

The two days after our flight case with Nuna left we are mostly cleaning our rooms and packing our bags. Not only we have to clean our office for the next team, but we also have to clean our own rooms, which most of us are subletting during our period in Australia. Quite a task for most of us, so some were only just in time at Schiphol on Saturday evening. A lot of parents, grandparents, friends, brothers, sisters, mentors and sponsors all came to Schiphol to say goodbye and loudly cheer while we were going through customs. Again everything is feeling surreal, we’re literally going to the other side of the world and we have a lot of expectations to live up to!

The journey to Australia is a pretty long one. Our first flight to Kuala Lumpur is taking around 12 hours, but fortunately we’re all sitting next to each other so we won’t get bored. Also we haven’t had any time the last year to watch new movies, so some of us made plans to also use this long flight to finally catch up a little. In the end we were all pretty exhausted, so most of those plans changed to trying to sleep as long as possible...

At Kuala Lumpur Airport we had to spend 9 hours before our next flight was departing. Luckily there was a lounge we could enter where they had fried chicken, large beers and last but not least the possibility to take shower, so waiting there wasn’t too bad. After an hour or 6 we started to get pretty bored and so the idea emerged to go to a trip to the beach with a small group, only we had to drive about 40min to go there and again to get back to the airport. Calculating that you’ll find out that this is indeed quite tight to our departure time, but “we were certainly going to make that…”

And I have to admit, indeed, 2.5 hours later we crossed the country twice in a cab, we ate a burger on the beach, we had a quick peek at the sky filled with stars, went through customs and perfectly on time we were at the gate again. You got to risk it to take the biscuit!

The next seven hour flight to Sydney we were sitting separately in small groups in the plane, and a few team members were lucky to have multiple chairs so they could sleep a little more comfortable. We had no idea anymore in which time zone we were trying to live at that time, mostly we were just tired.

When we were waiting on our luggage at Sydney airport we saw on a big cardboard sign: “Channel 7 is filming their show ‘Border Patrols’ here”. Some members of our team are a big fan of this show and were hoping to at least accidently appear on camera. Unfortunately for them the film crew was just having a break while we passed so we missed this chance!

When everyone collected their luggage it was time to say goodbye, we were splitting up! This felt a little weird, for a complete year you see each other most of the time of every day and now we were going to be separated. One half of the team was flying to Adelaide at the end of the same day where they were going to start the ‘trip-up’ in a few days. To do so these 8 guys are driving with two rental cars the same route we are going to drive in October during the race, but upside down this time. During the trip they log everything they see on their way like exits, bad quality of roads, Wi-Fi spots, and so on. Also our strategists test their strategy during the trip. For them this is actually their first opportunity to test everything completely and while doing so they will always find some things which don’t work the way you thought they would. In this way we make sure to be totally ready for the race!

The other half of the team stayed in Sydney. Here the flight case with Nuna and our equipment would arrive in the coming days. Before it can officially enter Australia and be transported to Darwin, the case has to arrive in the harbor and go through customs there. We knew from last years that everything should be taken out of the flight case and be checked, quite a job for 8 people in two days.

In the meantime while we were waiting for an appointment with customs to check the case, we spent our time discovering Sydney. In the end we walked about 3 days through cold and windy Sydney (12 degrees wasn’t the temperature we were picturing with ‘Australia’). We saw the famous Opera House, the large Bridge and visited the Botanical Gardens, Bondi Beach, some museums and much more. Then finally we could go to the harbor where the flight case with Nuna was waiting for us.

When the customs lady saw the long list of things that were in the case she was convinced everything had to be taken out and she had to see and check everything. We started opening all the little doors and windows and explained to her what was in there and that we bought a lot of stuff brand new. After some lighter chatting (also about her upcoming vacation in Amsterdam) she was then convinced our equipment was alright and we didn’t have to get everything out. That said we were done at the harbor within half an hour, we were extremely lucky!

The day after our adventure at the harbor we flew to Darwin and were welcomed by a (for now) nice temperature of around 30 degrees, a hostel with a pool and a working space for the coming month at Nightcliff Primary School. This school was so nice and the people so friendly that we all wished we could have gone to this school when we were little! You will hear more about this place next week, when we get the chance to actually settle and spend some more time here.

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