Re Australian customs officials and practices:
We have entered and left Oz at least twenty times over the years (by boat) and have never had a bad experience with the customs chaps. They have been polite, efficient and friendly. We've even developed a personal friendship with two of them... nice guys!
This past year we cleared out of Southport and back in at Coffs Harbour. In both cases, the two agents who attended us, now members of Border Protection rather than the Customs service
, obviously had had some sort of training re being "nice" to foreign cruisers. They were extremely solicitous in insuring that the process was well understood, that all questions were answered, and that if we experienced any problems that we could deviate from protocol IF we simply notified their office of the deviations. A most interesting development IMO. Interestingly, in our conversations, all four of these relatively young men
said that they were not happy with the change to the more military-like Border Protection service
, and found the culture to be unpleasant to operate in.
Oh... relative to the 96 hour notification requirement: this should not be a big hassle, for one can make the notification at any time before the 96 hour limit... like days before, so that a simple e-mail or fax message before departure fills the bill. And now quite a few other nations are falling into this practice... somewhat of a nuisance but not a killer for us. YMMV.