It has to be one of the worst places in Australia, if not the world. A multi-story car park which, instead of rising from the entrance level, descends to a hellish place called Level 2 – the desperation level – where backpackers will do anything, and I mean anything, to sell their once precious vehicle, which they now detest, to other travellers.
It has very little daylight and dark, dingy concrete walls. The only colour is from previous sellers’ graffiti – horror stories about how long they spent there. It’s not just that the sellers are on the verge of suicide, the buyers have it bad too. As soon as anyone appears on the ‘desperation level’ they suddenly have around 20 pairs of manic eyes staring at them trying to use all there telepathic skills to get them over to their van or car. After driving all the way around Australia we headed back into the hustle and bustle of Sydney with only one thing left to do, and 10 days to do it. We had to sell our beloved Mitsubishi Starwagon – ‘Mr Bishi’. So with 37 posters put up in hostels, internet cafes, notice boards, and basically anywhere we could stick them, it left us with only one option: the van needed a buyer, we wanted a sale. It was time to push the button, the desperation button. Kings Cross car market!
Day One: Asking price $4,900. Seven hours later, two test drives, four interested couples but none wanted to spend that much on a van. Eventually, one couple said they might stretch to $4,500, and would call later.
Day Two: New vehicle on the scene, a pair of desperate Yanks selling a Toyota van. Good condition. Bit of competition, we thought, although already we were thinking of sabotage. The chap running the car market tells us we should get a sale today as a couple from yesterday were asking all about our van and how to register it. We started to get excited. Then we saw them come into the car market. They did a once around, and headed for the Yanks’ van. Nooooo! We tried to use telepathy, but it was no good. They were in the van and off on a test drive. Can you believe it! One frickin’ hour in the car market and the Yanks’ sale was done. Our lifeline to the outside world was cut, we were back fighting against the other desperate depressants again. A sale in one hour! There were some poor sods opposite them who had been there 10 days. Then a ray of light walked into the market in the form of an Irish couple. The lad was clearly off his head (couldn’t understand a word he said), but they had been on a test drive the day before and were interested in our van. But the $4,900 asking price was the stumbling block. They came over and offered us $3,800. Nah, we were desperate but it was only day two. Then he offered $3,900. Nah, again it was still only day two. Finally he said: ‘Look, I have $4,000 on me, let’s do it now.’ He clearly wanted the van and wasn’t off his head as I first presumed.
Hmmm, okay, we’ll think about it and give you a call back around five-ish. An hour passed by quickly. The call was made.
The deal was done. And a carton of beer purchased. Sold! After only 12 hours of depression, we were smiling again, the sun was shining, it was a happy day. We walked for the first time in over two months and it felt great. We had blisters, but looking back over our shoulder we just couldn’t help feeling sorry for all the lost souls that were scattered around level two – the desperation level. But today our smile was extra large with a spring in our step. We only paid $3,500, so to receive $4,000… you could say it was a good deal. The Kings Cross backpackers car market is not a pleasant experience, but it’s a good place to sell your van or car.
Our final tally was: kilometres travelled in Oz, 21,459; ‘roo roadkill count, 141; Sue’s mozzie bites, 44; snowboarding days, 30; working days, 79; flights so far, eight; countries so far, four. Now it’s on to Asia!