Well after some hassles, we have concrete footings. The concreters turned up as planned, except they brough with them a 6 tonne excavator - WAY to big for access and to dig in the confined space. A few days went by and I organised a mini-excavator. Keith from http://www.dignow.com.au/
was very helpful and did a great job, excavating the strip footing and pier holes.
Two days later the concreters came back and did their work.