Lonely pensioner flies 1,600km to join new ‘fishing mate’

Ray Johnstone and Mati Batsinilas pose for a selfie. Both are smiling.Image copyright
Mati Batsinilas/Facebook

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Ray Johnstone flew across Australia to join his new “fishing mate” for a trip

Two weeks ago, lonely Australian grandfather Ray Johnstone decided to try his luck at finding a “fishing mate” online, on the suggestion of a care nurse.

Now the 75-year-old pensioner finds himself on the other side of Australia with a new friend and a haul of fish.

An age difference of more than 50 years hasn’t got in the way of a blossoming friendship between Mr Johnstone and Mati Batsinilas, a carpenter who lives in Brisbane.

Moved by the online post, in which Mr Johnstone explained that his former fishing companion had died, Mr Batsinilas, 22, paid for the widowed pensioner to fly from his home in South Australia to Brisbane, more than 1,600km (995 miles) away.

They are now on a special trip off the Queensland coast.

Mr Batsinilas was just one of many people who said they wanted to go fishing with Mr Johnstone after his original post went viral.

Lonely fisherman’s plea charms Australia

According to the Courier Mail newspaper an 80cm (31in) mulloway fish was among the grandfather’s haul on Tuesday, the first day of a two-day trip with Mr Batsinilas.

The pair had planned to camp overnight on the picturesque North Stradbroke island.

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Mati Batsinilas/Facebook

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One of the pair’s haul off the Queensland coast

“This has been more of an adventure than a trip for Ray,” Mr Batsinilas said.

And Ray’s verdict? “It was a really good day,” he told the newspaper from Amity Point, on the island.

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Mr Johnstone’s online ad, which was posted on 19 January

More than 115,000 people have now seen the original post.

Explaining his love for fishing, Mr Johnstone told the BBC last week that he just liked “getting out in the fresh air” and keeping active.

“I don’t want to end up as a vegetable like some old people do,” he said.

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