The Amazing Aussie Adventure: Surfing Dude

The Amazing Aussie Adventure: Surfing Dude


surfing WA

Image: allianceabroad.com

One of the things I wanted to take up when I came to Australia was learn to surf.

It seemed like a simple enough task — I’d surfed once or twice in the past and had managed to get to my feet. I figured some dedicated lessons would refresh my memory and after a short course I’d be ready to buy my own surfboard and start hitting the surf at weekends.

My first surf lesson in Australia, a wave hit me the wrong way and I wrenched my shoulder. These things happen, I didn’t think so much of it at the time. Except it carried on hurting throughout the day, in a way a pulled muscle doesn’t.

I cancelled my following day’s lesson to avoid making it any worse, but by the Monday morning although it wasn’t any better I didn’t want to miss another day’s lesson (they’re non-refundable) so got through it with pain killers.

My ideas of buying my own surfboard were seeming more far-fetched: I wasn’t getting any better at surfing (that is, I still couldn’t stand on the board without falling off) but it was only my second lesson…

A few days later, with my shoulder still hurting, I saw a doctor. I described the pain, how it happened, and demonstrated the limited range of movement. The doctor told me it was a torn shoulder rotator cuff, and referred me for an ultrasound.

An ultrasound and an x-ray later confirmed a partial tear, but luckily not a bone chip that the ultrasound suggested.

It was more than six weeks before I was able to surf again, and complete the surf lesson course. By this time, summer had faded in Western Australia but sunny mornings spent in the surf, mostly falling off, were time well spent.

And no, I never did buy that surfboard, or really ever manage to learn to surf properly.

Although I did get a certificate.

The Australian adventure begins

the Australian adventure beginsI left London on a typically cold and rainy day in February, one week ago today. It’s surprising how when you’re moving to another country you can fit all the clothes you own into just a few bags — once you have decided to throw out all of those items that don’t fit, admitting that they probably won’t fit again any time soon.

Flying long-haul in Economy Class can be tough, but I recommend paying the small extra surplus on Singapore Airlines for a seat in the emergency exit row. OK, so you don’t get a window — which is usually my favourite place to sit — but it is more than made up for by the fact that you can stretch your legs so far, and that you can just stand up by your seat if you so desire. The only drawback is that because there is so much space in front of you some people may choose to stand in front of your seat while they wait to use the bathroom.

We descended into Singapore’s Changi airport, after nearly 13 hours in the air, just as the sun was rising. From the plane window behind me I saw dots of light below become boats, and I wondered what lives the people on board were leading, and what they were thinking and feeling at the start of their day on Tuesday.

My stop in Singapore was only two hours — and from bad experiences in the past in airports trying to clear customs and find boarding gates, I wouldn’t want any less than that. Soon, I was in the air again — and with my cherished window seat.

From the air, I was struck by the colours of Australia. The land was mostly brown or gold, and the trees were a very dark green. Occasionally, the land took an alien look around mine sites. It took me a short while to realise that where the land was golden coloured or brown this wasn’t abnormal: this was Australia, in the summer.

Clearing customs and immigration was surprisingly easy: I printed the details of my visa and my visa grant notice, in case they were needed, but since my visa was entirely electronic I wasn’t even asked about it.

And then there I was (after a quick stop in the airport duty free shop): a permanent resident in Australia.