US consul-general David Gainer visited Geraldton this week spruiking scholarships and visas and looking forward to the borders reopening.
This was only his second visit in the two years since he took the position at the WA consulate.
He said he was keen to revisit because Geraldton reminded him of towns along the Californian coast.
“There’s a comfortability.
“When an American gets off the plane … everything makes sense.”
He spent time at Nagle Catholic College talking with students about backpacker visas. Once borders reopen, young people will be able to travel and work for a year in the US.
“Work as a camp counsellor, or at Disney … and earning money and travelling around the US.”
In the wake of the controversial AUKUS submarine deal, Mr Gainer said he was keen to meet with Defence Industries Minister Melissa Price but couldn’t find time in the few days he spent in her electorate.
“I’m looking forward to catching up with her because we’re really excited about all the possibilities in the WA context,” he said.
“I would love to see Western Australia benefit, because I think there are lots of great advantages that Geraldton, and WA possess.”
On meeting with Yamatji Southern Regional Corporation, Mr Gainer said is was “heartening” to see how welcome to country ceremonies, which are not held in in the US, had become commonplace since his last posting in Australia in 2007. “It’s really interesting to see how, in our small ways, we can be helpful, but also to listen to the opportunities and challenges,” he said.
The consul-general was a radio announcer before joining the diplomatic service. An indie music fan, he said he was excited for local bands such as Spacey Jane, who had the rare opportunity to play in WA while the rest of the world was under restrictions.
“We’re in one of those rare spots in the world where performances have been able to occur,” he said.
With tens of thousands of US visas open to West Australians going unclaimed every year, Mr Gainer hopes we will wonder a little further out yonder.
“I encourage all Geraldtonians to get out to the US and travel once the borders open … go enjoy the big wide world again.”