Australia means shorter convos
LOUISE Lochtkamper and her husband Heinz immigrated to Australia from Zimbabwe nearly five years ago to be close to their only child Tanya and her husband Pieter, who immigrated here in 2000.
From the moment they arrived, the people of Gympie made them feel welcome and that same year Mrs Lochtkamper was offered a job at the 1 Stop Shop on Crescent Rd.
She started working part time and is still employed there today. In fact her employers, Tim and Pina Long, were with her for support when she took the oath and became an Australian citizen at a special ceremony on Australia Day.
"From what we have seen of Australia so far, it is a beautiful country filled with friendly, helpful people," she said. "My employer's and their staff all accepted me as one of them from the get-go and we all work together as one big family. They have all shown me nothing but love and kindness."
Mrs Lochtkamper said many things in Australia were similar to Zimbabwe - the climate, the sunsets , the casual lifestyle, boating, camping, fishing and people wearing shorts and having barbecue's.
"The only difference being that I had never seen floods before like I saw in Gympie last year.
"Also from once having had elephants, baboons and monkeys come into our yard, we now have kangaroos, possums and the most beautiful coloured birds."
When the Lochtkamper's arrived in Australia, their daughter Tanya said, "Here in Australia they abbreviate everything".
"This is how I used to say the following: For Christmas we went to Brisbane to visit our relatives, with our cooler box and barbecue to cook some sausages, on the back of the pick-up, but when we got there we saw an ambulance parked across the street so we had to do a "U" Turn in front of the University," Mrs Lochtkamper told the large crowd at the Citizenship Ceremony on Thursday.
"This is how I now say it the Aussie way: For Chrissy we went to Brissy to visit our rellies, with our esky and barbie to cook some snags, on the back of the ute, but when we got there we saw an ambo parked across the street so we had to a U-ey in front of the uni."
If one of the criteria for becoming an Australian citizen is a good sense of humour, it's no surprise Mrs Lochtkamper was accepted.
"I am very proud to have become a citizen today and now truly feel I belong here. Thank you Australia for accepting me as one of you."