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Couple make “clean break” in Western Australia

Regina and Stefan come to terms with working vast distances apart

After Regina Michel and Stefan Hüssy wanted to "opt out" of Switzerland, they found the freedom they sought in Western Australia.

“We brought all our possessions here in these containers”, Hüssy explains. He and his girlfriend shipped 40 tons of belongings to Perth in 1999. Their decision to emigrate to Australia has fundamentally changed their lives.

“If you decide to make changes in your life, it’s often easier just to make a clean break,” Michel says.

Steel, hay and cows

After travelling to the “fifth continent” five times as tourists, Regina and Stefan knew they wanted to make their new home in the western part of the country. They bought a plot of land about 100km west of Perth, the capital of Western Australia.

“I don’t have as many deadlines here as I had before, and I can determine my daily routine myself,” Hüssy says. In Switzerland he was a master metalworker specializing in metal-glass constructions. The firm where he worked built conservatories, dormer windows and balconies. This method of building is not so well known in Australia, and now he produces specialist parts for refrigeration plants and air-conditioning systems.

But this self-made man also builds special trailers for transporting heavy loads. And as a part-time farmer he cultivates half a square kilometre of land, keeps ten cows and has 150 olive trees to look after.

Separated on weekdays

Michel is a nutrition consultant who works 150 km south of their shared home – a normal distance by Australian standards. Even so, she lives in her house in Narrogin during the week and spends weekends with her boyfriend.

Michel is used to the situation. “I now plan things during the week that Stefan wouldn’t be interested in anyway,” she said. “So the time we spend together at weekends means far more to us.”

In their own way, they have found the freedom they sought, despite the restriction imposed by distance. But neither of them would like to move back to Switzerland now.

by Christian Messerli, Perth

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR