The bullet went through the church and the knot has been hacked through. For those who don’t speak Dutch, I’ll use a proper English expression: the die has been cast.
On 19 March, I signed an agreement with a Dutch migration agent operating in Australia, to assist me with the application of a Skilled Nominated visa, in other words for permanent residency in Australia for myself and my partner, in casu Stefano of course. Our second three month tourist is visa is soon ending and after all these months of living in Perth, travelling in South WA and now fishing and camping along the coast North of Perth, we have decided that we really want more of this. Kind of a big decision, applying for permanent residency in a foreign country. But what once was Stefano’s dream has now also become mine and we are going for it.
Ahead of us are long months of gathering documents, filling in forms and doing all sorts of tests, such as medical and English language. And long periods of waiting. We won’t have a final decision for at least 6 to 8 months, if not longer. The Australian immigration procedures are fair but strict and applications can take a long time to process. I’m sure I’ll vent about this in some of my next blogs 😉
Anyway, we will leave Australia mid-April, I will do a quick stop over in Ubud for some yoga (I simply can’t fly past Bali without getting off the plane) and Singapore for Timmo’s wedding (very chuffed about that!) and then we will spend the summer, autumn and probably part of winter in Holland, Italy and Egypt. Again, our travel plans are vague until the last minute, but hey, that’s the way (aha aha) we like it!
But for now, we are enjoying our last few weeks in this country. The weekend before Easter, Nicole and Marcus invited us to stay with them at the beautiful holiday house they rent regularly down in Margaret River, a beautiful forestal region, with wineries and breweries serving superb meals. We ended the super relaxing weekend in Dunsborough having a healthy lunch at Samudra, my favourite yoga hangout in WA.
We prolonged our stay in Dunsborough with Rob and Marianne who are travelling around the world for six months with their two kids aged 2 and 4. How cool is that! That’s the kind of parent I want to be when I grow up! We went fishing on the beach, cooked the only fish worth cooking which was caught by the 4 year old and then drove to Busselton to visit the longest jetty of the southern hemisphere. Or so they claim. True or not, it was raining so we ended up eating a mouth-watering lunch instead of walking the jetty. While we were hanging out, we realised that I have met up with Rob and Marianne on four of the six continents (or is it seven?): Europe, Asia, Africa & Australia. My kind of friendship! Next common stop, one of the Americas?
Anyway, back from the South, we cleared the room we were renting in Perth, packed pretty much everything we own in our station wagon, bought some basic camping gear and set off North. Objective of the mission: fishing, fishing, fishing. Oh, and fishing. So that’s all we’ve been doing since we left Perth.
First stop was Carnarvon, where the One Mile Jetty is famous among serious fisherman. We had barely set up the tent when we set off the jetty. The wind was blowing at 40 km/h, but that was not enough to deter Stefano. And since I’m no wuss either, down we went, carrying rods, camping chairs, bait and tackle box along the 1,6 km long jetty. The sun was setting when we started walking and it was dark when we got to the end. I couldn’t see where I was casting, when I put my head around the corner of the little shed my lenses would almost blow out of my eyes, I knew that down there, there were sharks and other big scary fish, the jetty was shuddering and shaking on its pylons, but I hung in there, for hours and hours. When finally Stefano was done fishing, we stumbled back to land, leaning into the wind, trying not to trip over the tracks of the jetty train that during daytime takes tourist up and down while juggling rods, chairs, buckets and what was left of our beers and wine. Fun? Yes, actually, it was.
The next day, it was my birthday, so not only did Stefano cook breakfast and dinner (yummy yabbies!) for me, but I think he actually made an effort to not push it to the limit. We fished only for about 15 hours that day, from a relatively wind sheltered boat ramp. Unfortunately, still no legal size fish worth eating. So the next day, we decided to flee from the wind and drove up north a bit more to Coral Bay, which is about 1.200 km from Perth. There, the numbers of caught fish started increasing. Uncountable GT’s (some of which ended up in our plate as sashimi and pan fried), a huge shovel nose shark, bream, snappers and lots of other “small” stuff.
By then, I was over my “eeeeh, there is sand in my tent and you smell of fish” phobia. It always take me a few days to get past that point, but once your hair is conditioned with a mix of fish oil, sunscreen and sand, you have irremovable fish blood under your nails and your fingers are full of scars due to clumsy hook handling, it all doesn’t really matter anymore. In the end, seeing Stefano’s dream come true makes it all worthwhile. And the food resulting from it helps too. So far, from our own catch we ate mackerel (sashimi and pan fried), mud crab, flathead, taylor, dart, queenfish, tuna and GT’s. Of course, all sharks, rays and undersized fish are released as Australian regulations are very strict – hey, did I mention that before somewhere?
There is one thing I have to say about fishing, regardless of whether you are pro or con, it is a great way to see places and meet people. Like scuba diving really. Once you reach a fishing destination, you just walk up to the next guy for a talk that starts more or less like this: “Hey mate, haw’zit gawin’? Catchin’ anythin’?” Or, if you were Stefano, it would be something like: “Gello man, catch any feesh today?” Either way, usually a long conversation starts from there, about where to go to catch which fish, which rig and bait to use, with or without floater, with or without trail, with or without weight and so forth and so on… Let’s say that I’m happy for Stefano to start the socialising.
And of course, Stefano would not be Stefano if we would not end up with new friends. We got to know a great couple (she British/he Aussie) that drove down back to Carnarvon with us and pitched their camp next to ours. The wind had come down, the One Mile Jetty was a big success and thanks Nigel & Jojo’s 4WD, we got to places we would never have been able to go to. We spent four very enjoyable days together, fishing, drinking, talking, laughing, fishing some more and laughing some more, playing Uno and drinking some more (funny that, last time I played that game I was in Australia too, but then on the East Coast and more than 5 years ago!) and to top it off, fishing some more.
So now we have about 3 days left of our camping/fishing trip before we have to be back in Perth. We arrived in Kalbarri today, around 600 km north of Perth and as soon as we arrived at the camping at 5.00 pm, Stefano threw the camping gear out of the car and tailed it out of the caravan park, in search of a fishing spot before sunset. I leisurely set up the camp, popped (or rather screwed) open a bottle of white wine and plugged the charger into my laptop. It’s now 8.00 pm and I’m not expecting him back before midnight, so I might as well make myself comfortable, right?
I believe I have done a good job as a fishing partner, not being a passionate fishing person that is.
It seems it’s even been more hardcore than when we were here four years ago. I’ve dragged fishing gear across a gully with water up to my waist to reach a sand bank, I’ve sat up shivering on my camping chair holding my cup of wine while he was still fishing until deep into the cold and windy night, dreaming I was holding a rod (fortunately the dream never ended in me catching a fish), I’ve re-learned how to rig my rods, unhook fish, bleed them, gut them and fillet them. I’ve eaten more fish in the last 10 days than I have in the past year (oops, except for sushi). It’s been a blast (see video’s).
Video Part I: http://youtu.be/ofQu6uNs8rw
Video Part II: http://youtu.be/MynRy1ZMZdk
Video Stefano’s day in paradise: http://youtu.be/-qBICTVFgjI
But now I’m longing for yoga, vegetarian delights and detoxing.
Bali, here I come!
Big fishy kisses from down under to all!