Navigation Menu+

Lara for sale!

Posted on 8 Aug 2014 | 23 comments

Lara survived her year remarkably well. When we dropped her off at the local Land Rover garage in the UK they were surprised to hear what she had just done. She was in excellent condition, although definitely due for a big service.

They replaced the clutch and a new seal was added to the gearbox to stop the (very) slow leak we had had for years. Of course we needed a new brake disc after the failed Lada pads had ground the disc to bits, but we knew that was a risk we took when we decided to use them, and they nearly got us home…

When they replaced the seal on the gearbox they discovered what could have been a huge disaster. Putting the gearbox back together in Mongolia, the Land Rover dealer had accidentally inserted one of the longer bolts in the space for a shorter one (not all bolts for the gear box are the same length). The bolt had poked through into the gear box and had touched the gears. Luckily the metal of the bolts is a lot softer than the metal used on the gears themselves so, slowly but surely, the gears had bent and ground the bolt out of the way. We were incredibly lucky that we did not destroy the gear box the minute we drove out of the garage in Ulaanbaatar!! Jon is going to frame the remains of that bolt, together with a piece of the exploded differential we kept, to remind us how intimately linked disaster and luck can be.

a very, very close call!

a very, very close call!

Anyway, now that we had made it safely back to Europe, our biggest ‘problem’ would be to get Lara back to Australia, as, in order to do so, she would need to be as clean as new. Can you imagine having to clean a car that has just traversed half the planet and picked up different colours of dust from 27 countries? It’s a daunting task for sure, not made easier by the fact that England was true to form and it rained cats and dogs pretty much every day.

the UK was very wet that year

the UK was very wet that year

we didn't realise we should have brought a snorkel on our run...

we didn’t realise we should have brought a snorkel on our run…

The Land Rover garage owner came to our rescue. He very kindly gave us a spot next to his Land Rover series III restoration project. He also owned a Lotus from the 60’s, almost identical to Jon’s racing green Lotus 22. But we weren’t here to look at the cars, we were here to clean. He then also gave us the garage’s vacuum cleaner, a bucket with hot water and some rags and we set to it.

cleaning the inside

cleaning the inside

everything had to come out so we could clean the inside

everything had to come out so we could clean the inside

a proper clean before packing it away again

a proper clean before packing it away again

We spent all day, only interrupted by the cups of tea brought to us and a break for lunch in the excellent local pub across the road. By the end of the long day she was looking a lot cleaner on the inside, but she was far from ready for import into Australia. So, as any sensible woman would do, I left Lara with Jon so he could finish the job and I went back to Holland to spend a few more days with my family before we would fly back to Oz together.

Jon managed to finish the rest of the cleaning project and dropped her off in Southampton after using the local high-pressure cleaner for garbage trucks to blast off the last bits of dirt and a little of her paint. This time he wasn’t allowed to drive her into the container she would share with a Toyota Hilux. Instead she was left behind in the yard full of Porsches and expensive Mercedes and Jon had to hand over the key. Would we ever see her again?

last minute cleaning in the UK

last minute cleaning in the UK

We tracked her container on the high seas, hoping she was actually in it, and she seemed to be making ok progress after a delayed start. Finally, weeks later, we received the invoice from the yard in Brisbane. She had arrived, they had unloaded her and if we would be so kind to pay another $2000 they would grant us permission to pick her up. The price to get her from the port in Brisbane to our doorstep was as much as loading her into a container in the UK, shipping her half-way across the world, transferring her to another ship in Singapore and getting her to the wharf in Brisbane! Incredible.

But, we were lucky. No charges for cleaning! At least all our hard work wasn’t for nothing.

quarantine yard in Bribane

quarantine yard in Brisbane

It was an emotional pickup. We were delighted to have her back, but the full reality of our trip now really being over was also sinking in hard. True to form she started up on the first turn of the key – she is a legend – and Jon drove her slowly from her parking space in between lots of Dutch armored personnel carriers from Afghanistan, out into the real world. A quick phone call to our insurance company to make sure she was insured on the way home and we were free to go!

first glimpses of Lara parked in the quarantine yard

first glimpses of Lara parked in the quarantine yard

happily reunited agai

happily reunited again

crocs become safety shoes!

crocs become safety shoes!

signing the paperwork

signing the paperwork

driving her out of the quarantine yard full of Dutch armored personnel carriers

driving her out of the quarantine yard full of Dutch armored personnel carriers

a quick call to the insurance company to make sure she is covered again

a quick call to the insurance company to make sure she is covered again

back on the road in Oz

back on the road in Oz

filling up for the first time again in Oz

filling up for the first time again in Oz – ouch!

After unloading everything and sorting out the remaining pressies we had brought over, we are now using her again for weekend trips around Brisbane, delighted to be able to sleep in her luxurious Taj Mahal once again, dreaming of possible next trips. But being back on the daily grind – after landing in Brisbane on Sunday evening Jon was back at work the next morning – means for now we are restricted to weekends away.

cleaning everything after Lara arrives in Oz

cleaning everything after Lara arrives in Oz

checking the Taj Mahal

checking the Taj Mahal

Cape York, the Canning Stock Route and the Simpson Desert were all being considered for a next Oz holiday when our new adventure finally became clear after weeks of negotiations and discussions. We’ll be leaving Australia for 2 years to embark on our next adventure in Africa (Kenya) where Jon has accepted a new job with a new (for him anyway) company!

Unfortunately we won’t be able to take Lara with us, so we are left with a final 2-3 week September trip with her in Oz before we will have to reluctantly sell her. Cape York here we come!

Oh, and if you are interested in buying our beloved Lara (or know somebody who might be), leave us a message so we can get in touch!

suggested 10 month itinerary for the new owners of Lara...

suggested 10 month itinerary for the new owners of Lara…


  1. Weer heerlijk zitten lezen, helaas beseffend dat dit één van de laatste posts zal zijn :(.
    Jammer dat Lara (waarschijnlijk) verkocht wordt, heeft toch een hele geschiedenis samen met jullie.
    Veel succes in Kenya, hou ons op de hoogte.
    Groetjes uit Nederland van ons en ook van Arianne en Nicolette.

    • Hallo hallo! We gaan waarschijnlijk door met de blog, maar dan uiteraard met onze nieuwe Afrikaanse avonturen… ik heb er helaas alleen nog geen tijd voor gehad om het allemaal te regelen, maar hopelijk als we er zijn lukt dat wel. En we hebben nog 1 trip te gaan met Lara 🙂
      Veel plezier met pa en ma dit weekend! Doe ze maar de groetjes en uiteraard groetjes terug ook aan A en N!!!

  2. 1 – what the fuck? $2000 to collect Lara from Brissy.
    2 – Jon and a new company that’s great.
    3 – noooooooo you can’t sell Lara. I’ll happily look after her here in Melbourne

    • Wayne, I know – daylight robbery! Hopefully we’ll see you 2 in Kenya at some point in the next 2 years?!

  3. OMG end of an era! We took some photos to show Land Rovers were happily in Iceland but better not show you now in case you are in mourning…. Sadly RnR

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Hi RnR, we definitely still want to see your piccies of the Land Rovers in Iceland even though we are pretty sad about having to sell our baby!! Hope the travels are going well, what date are you back in Oz? Will we be able to catch up before we leave? Can you make it to our leaving drinks?

  4. Good to know you are well.

    I am working in Krabi as usual.

    It will be a while before we see eachother again.

    I was in Europe last Jne July for marketing trip. Next year will be USA and EU.

    Both of you are welcome here in Krabi and Thailand anytime.


    Ingeborg and Chul.


    • Hi Chul & Ingeborg, great to know things are going well in Krabi!! And thanks for your message. We certainly hope to be able to visit you again one day! But for the time being we’ll be enjoying our adventures in Africa 🙂 We would always be happy to welcome you in Kenya! Cheers, Jon & Jude

  5. Hoi! Ja…ik wist het natuurlijk al, maar nu ik deze blog lees, snap ik dat je er wel emotioneel van kan worden….het verkopen van een auto…wie had dat ooit gedacht! Maar het is inmiddels natuurlijk een echte vriendin geworden!!! Zoveel avonturen samen beleefd! Hopelijk gaat ze nog vele mooie avonturen beleven met haar nieuwe eigenaar! En gaan jullie ook weer mooie avonturen beleven in Kenia! xxxSandra

    • En hopelijk kunnen jullie deze keer ook deel worden van de avonturen in Kenia!! Ik bel binnenkort weer! (misschien wel later vandaag…) Jx

  6. Hi guys, sorry to hear you’re leaving Oz but Kenya will be an adventure and you two thrive on it. Miles is probably travelling Africa next year and we’re thinking of joining him….so maybe we’ll be able to drop in! Hopefully see you early Sept back in Brisbane?

    • Hi Guy, it will be great to have you all visit on your Africa leg of the trip! What happened to the Central Asian part plan? You’ll have to join us driving up to Cape York from 30 Aug so we can catch up and make new plans and enjoy Lara’s last adventure together…) Safe travels back to Oz and see you soon!

  7. Oh wow wow wow, there it isŠ! Decision made ­ boom!

    Wish we could buy it/babysit her for youŠ

    • Yep, just like that – it still feels unreal! And it would have felt a lot better if somebody we know would have been able to buy her 🙁

  8. Since she has been a good and trusted (and lucky!) friend, think of it as passing all that goodness along to someone else to enjoy and benefit from. Good car Karma!
    May I suggest
    1) posting a link to your blog on the blog forum in Thorn Tree, Lonely Planet. I think I posted a link to your site in providing info which your comments explained quite well (better than the official stuff).
    Also, there is a forum where you can post things for sale…so you might find someone either in Oz or going there who would love to part of the Lara’s history.
    I usually field questions on the Western Europe forum since I spent every vacation in France for 10 years…while I imagine your blog will go on, you might consider adding your knowledge and experiences to whatever forum suits you…no credentials needed, just a desire to show your love of travel and willingness to share…and to correct wrong information when found!
    You don’t have to sign up to browse; you might find things of interest in the Kenya section.
    Perhaps of interest to you, a recent EarthObserver article on the drought in Kenya:
    Best wishes on your new adventure…

    • Thanks Lynda, hope your happy travels continue and we are on thorn tree occasionally and people can always send us an email to ask any questions!

  9. Nooooooooooo!

    Adrian Sikorski +61410244334

  10. So Christmas is in Kenya this year?

    Wick’d! See you then….

    Don’t laugh! I just priced airline tickets to JFK and if I stop in Kenya on the way it works out to about the same price.


    • Hi Joel, it would be fantastic to see you in Kenya so keep us informed about plans! Let’s see what works, send us an email when you have ideas about dates etc. Have you finished the studies? Got a job at the school in the hills? Are you now moving there? See you in a few months by the sounds of it! Cheers, Jude x

  11. Wow, Kenya! Should be exciting. Pity you can’t take Lara with you – Kenya would be the ideal playground for her (plenty of her kin roaming the savannah there already). I have just returned from 3 weeks in Bordeaux (family now on their 2nd leg of holiday – Ireland for 3 weeks) – was great, lots of wine and good food, just as well I have the work commute to get back in shape.

    Anyhow, enjoy Kenya. Am about to change to a new project here and that is likely to keep us in KL for another 3+ years, so the good times continue ☺. Pop by if you are passing through KL again.

    Kind regards,

    • Hi Sal, good news about the new project! I guess you’ll get some stability for the kids out of that. Make sure you plan a safari in the next 2 years so we can return the hospitality!! We won’t be passing through KL this time, but when we do we will certainly let you know. Big hug, Jude X

  12. HI – Love your story! We are planning a similar journey to yours – and since we need to buy a defender anyway…..maybe flick me an email with what you are after for lara?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest