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Published: April 15th 2019
Elliott wedding"Travelling is not something you're good at. It's something you do. Like breathing" - Gayle Foreman
The Elliott clan with Jake, the bride, and a proud sister, Natalie
Travel to foreign countries involves a bit of a hard slog and for South Africans, probably a bit more of a challenging process than most. In the case of travel to Australia there are a number of hoops one has to navigate and jump through before you finally arrive there. It starts with the visa application. Sort of easy enough as it can be done online and after filling in endless pages of questions probably designed to reassure the Aussie Immigration blokes that you aren’t a convicted murderer or worse, you get to the really exciting part where you need to upload documents. Here they want hard copy, documented proof that you have some cash, you won’t be a burden on their medical resources plus further evidence that you have expunged any criminal activity or intent, you then click the appropriate button and off it goes into cyberspace. Wait a day or two and then an email instruction to proceed for biometrics testing, a final step to ensure that you are actually who you are. This whole process can take up to a month
Yanchep National Park
Essential refreshment to get things moving
from start to finish and you do it each time one travels there. No bonus or concession from previous visits. Clinical, efficient and at a cost of R2250 per applicant. A whole lot easier if you hail from North America or European countries, but I guess what we endure is the “premium” imposed on travellers from African countries. The other unknown is; what are travellers to South Africa subjected to in terms of visa application efficiency or otherwise? After all, simply getting a driver’s licence renewal can take one to the brink of wrist slitting or worse.
Simple reality. You need the damn visa to go there and so we were able to confidently proceed to the SAA check in counter at OR Tambo on 10th
April. At this point I had a flashback to our check in about a year ago for our USA trip. Four SAA counters processing a mind-numbing queue for a number of international flights. Chaos! Thankfully no repeat and within five minutes, boarding passes in hand, we were good to go. Without much fuss flight SA 280 left for Perth on schedule and as always one is invited to “sit back, relax and enjoy
Yanchep National Park
A mob of roo's who pooh!
the flight”. In my book there is no such thing as an enjoyable international flight and one simply has to endure the fact that you will be seated for a long time in the most uncomfortably designed seat ever made. We skipped the meal offered having snacked in the Slow Lounge and the unappetising meal “offering” of my fellow passenger to the right, vindicated our decision. Apart from an overhead light not working and poor TV screen viewing, it was a flight on par with all the others, a test of endurance. Some time was spent scanning fellow passengers trying to figure out who they were and why they were travelling to Australia. At least half were baby boomers like ourselves, perhaps tourists or returning to their new home or visiting family who have resettled in the country. Kept wondering how many of the younger families weren’t leaving SA for the last time as new immigrants to either Australia or New Zealand.
Arriving in Australia is fascinating. Many people watch “Border Security” on TV which is all about the Aussies ensuring absolutely no foreign stuff (food, insects, drugs, snakes etc.,) make it across the line. All very efficiently done,
Jake and Claire Elliott
passengers are shepherded into queues and instructed to wait patiently while a sniffer dog, enthusiastically encouraged by the handler, has that final say into whether the immigration blokes are going to search your bags or not. We got through unscathed and, somewhat relieved, entered the Perth arrivals hall.
The reason for routing via Perth was to attend the wedding of one Jake Elliott to Claire Mount. Jake is my brother, Charles, son. Life is never a straight line to anywhere and interesting that Charles, Laura and their two young children left SA in 1990 to start life anew in Canada. Both Jake and Natalie were brought up and educated there and then five years ago Jake, armed with his Mechanical Engineering background, left Canada to settle in Australia where he met his wife to be, Claire, who happens to be a Brit. Now that is what one could call a true League of Nations! A case of a richer World due, in no small measure, to South Africans putting roots down in all corners of the globe. Joining the SA contingent were my sister, Sally, her husband Sam and their son and his girlfriend, Jason and Nadia. So, a
An impressive and modern skyline
whole SA contingent to keep the Aussies in check. And the Brits and Irish there to witness Claire being hijacked by a Saffer/Canadian/Aussie.
The wedding ceremony took place in the Nanchep National Park located about 30 kms north of Perth. A word of caution! Do not read anything life threatening in terms of this being a National Park full of potentially dangerous animals. Aussie has none. This Park does, however, have a mob (the collective term) of western grey kangaroos which had covered the grassy lawns with multiple piles of kangaroo crap requiring careful stepping to avoid shoe contamination. The ceremony, attended by about 50 people, was held in the open alongside a small lake and was spectacular. The actual reception saw the throng of guests being shepherded to the Cabaret Cave which must rate as one of the more unusual and impressive wedding venues we have had the pleasure of being in. A huge limestone and sandstone cave kitted out beautifully for functions and I suspect my geology mates back home would have been in their version of seventh heaven had they been there. Great evening with a sparkling combination of good food, speeches and dance floor activity.
Leisurely lunch in the Little Creatures
All of course satiated with really good Aussie beer and wine.
Other Perth highlights: Airbnb
We had booked this along with my brother Charles, and it was a superb home in Alkimos, a suburb north of Perth. There is no doubt Airbnb is the way to go when travelling. All the space and luxury of a home with a barbecue included which is non-negotiable for a bunch of SA people who simply want to braai at some point. The other important factor is cost and at R400 per person per night, this option was way cheaper than any other form of accommodation we researched. Global Rapid Rugby
This was a revelation and has its origins in the booting out of the Western Force from Super Rugby. It is basically a professional rugby competition embracing teams in the Asia Pacific region and we attended a match between Western Force and Asia Pacific Dragons. But it is rugby with some very interesting twists and mirrors to some extent what has happened to cricket with ODI’s and T20 formats. Rapid rugby has, at its core, the idea of playing faster rugby rewarding teams for scoring tries with extra points if they opt not to kick penalties. Each half only lasts 35 minutes and there is loads of off field entertainment beamed onto large screens at two ends of the field. Most importantly it emphasises family entertainment and there were loads of young families having a ball. Watch this rugby space as I suspect the game is busy “reinventing” itself. Freemantle
No trip to Perth is complete without doing a leisurely cruise down the Swan River to Freemantle located at the mouth of the river. There is an unending array of yacht and boat harbours which explains why just about every Aussie owns a watercraft of some form. There is some serious wealth to be observed when viewing the impressive homes on the water’s edge and clearly the Aussies have moved on from the “tall poppy syndrome” which once prevailed in Australia. (The tall poppy syndrome
describes aspects of a culture where people of high status are resented, attacked, cut down, strung up or criticised because they have been classified as superior to their peers).
Lots of walking and exploring of this fascinating town, which has resisted the need for developers to knock down old buildings to modernise the place, led to a final lunch in a very busy restaurant by name of “Little Creatures”.
Sadly, it was then time to bid farewell to our Aussie and Canadian families and make our way back to Perth International Airport.
An overnight flight to Brisbane and then on to Cairns where we collect an RV for the meander down the East Coast to Sydney with scheduled arrival there on 27th
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