Rainier Overseas Movers, Inc gave me a reasonable quote, my packages were picked up on time, and they arrived after about 8-10 weeks in Australia, a bit slower than Rainier promised, but not too bad.
My advice is to watch out for the following things:
- You will be told by some here that you have to allow the movers to pack your goods so that Australian Customs do not demand inspection. This is not true. It's merely a way of charging you more for the move. I packed all my own stuff except for a few boxes, and Customs didn't even inspect my goods. AQIS came to look because I declared some wooden items, but the inspection took 5 minutes and he waved me through without opening more than one box.
- Interestingly, the few boxes that were packed by the movers in the USA were absurdly bulked out by crushed butcher's paper, adding about 45% of volume to the boxes they packed! If they'd packed my whole shipment I would have had to pay a LOT more. Beware!
- Another gotcha: I took the time to be on site when the US moving company, hired by Rainier, packed by boxes into a liftvan. They half-filled the huge liftvan with my goods, and when I asked what was going to happen to all the spare space left over in the liftvan, for which I would have to pay, they said that they'd just fill it up with empty boxes like "they always do" (this is Slater Allied, BTW). I had to make numerous calls to Slater, and Rainier, and even have a flaming argument with Slater before they agreed to put my shipment in a smaller "non-standard" liftvan. I saved myself a few hundred dollars right there! The idiot at Slater couldn't get it into her head that overseas moves are done on a VOLUME basis, not a weight basis. She seemed fixed on the idea that because the weight was more or less the same no matter how big the liftvan, the charges would be the same.
So pack your own boxes, don't listen to the self-appointed experts who tell you not to, be on site when the US movers pick up your load, insist on a liftvan purpose-built to your requirements (or at least close the the right volume -- call before pickup day with an exact idea of your volume or you'll face a battle), and expect to pay another 25% of the total charge in Australia for port charges, AQIS inspections, etc. Think hard before transporting stuff back here, it may be cheaper to rebuy the lot.