NEWEST CITIZENS: St George’s Geoffrey and Liz Sanford were inducted as Australian citizens by Mayor Richard Marsh (pictured right) in a citizenship ceremony last Wednesday.
NEWEST CITIZENS: St George’s Geoffrey and Liz Sanford were inducted as Australian citizens by Mayor Richard Marsh (pictured right) in a citizenship ceremony last Wednesday.

Balonne Shire welcomes five new Australian citizens in ceremony

FIVE Balonne Shire residents have called Australia home for several years but now they can say with pride that they are officially citizens of our beautiful country,

Mayor Richard Marsh performed a citizenship ceremony last Wednesday for five of the Balonne Shire’s newest Australian citizens – Dirranbandi couple Heila and Willem Myburgh and St George’s Liz and Geoffrey Sanford and Ngoc Phuong Tram Nguyen.

Hailing from Kroonstad in South Africa, Mr and Mrs Myburgh, who have lived in Dirranbandi for the past six years, moved to Australia to be closer to their two sons and four grandchildren.

“I’m really proud to be a citizen of Australia,” Mrs Myburgh said.

“When we first moved here we were a little worried about culture shock but there was nothing that was difficult for us, we just went with the flow.

“It’s just so quiet and so safe here, we love it.”

Although their two sons and children have now moved to Toowoomba and Melbourne, the Myburghs said they have no plans to move from Dirranbandi.

“We’re getting old now, so there’s no sense in moving. We go to St George when we need anything or to Toowoomba for medical appointments, where we get to see our son and his family too,” she said.

Ngoc Phuong Tram Nguyen, 28, who arrived from Vietnam 11 years ago, said Australia quickly became her home due to the friendly nature of the people.

“It’s pretty great to be finally recognised as an Australian citizen, I’ve been waiting for a long time,” she said.

“I moved to St George for work – I am a pharmacist at the St George pharmacy. It did take a while to get used to the country accent, though.”

Ms Nguyen, who lived in Melbourne for seven years before moving to St George in 2015, said she came to Australia for the exceptional study and work opportunities.

For St George’s Liz and Geoffery Sanford, celebrating a decade of living Down Under on November 2 was made even sweeter by officially becoming Australian citizens last week.

Mr and Mrs Sanford moved from Invercargill in New Zealand to Talwood in 2009 with their two children, before relocating to St George six years ago.

“I can’t believe we’re finally citizens, it definitely hasn’t been an easy process getting to this point,” Mrs Sanford said.

“New Zealand is the hardest country to get Australian citizenship through so we’re relieved to have that security and acknowledgment.”

The Sanfords chose St George as their home for career opportunities. Geoffrey currently works as a workshop foreman and Liz as a teacher’s aide.

“I love Australia, although the heat is what probably shocked me the most,” Mrs Sanford said.

“My children moved here when they were just babies so Australia has always been home to them.

“I’ve been here so long my New Zealand accent has almost disappeared. I was approached by people after they saw the citizenship photos who told me ‘we would have thought you were Australian’.”

The journey for the family isn’t over. The next step for the Sanfords is getting their son and daughter also inducted as Australian citizens.

Dirranbandi’s Heila and Willem Myburgh with Mayor Richard Marsh.
Dirranbandi’s Heila and Willem Myburgh with Mayor Richard Marsh.

Ngoc Phuong Tram Nguyen and Mayor Richard Marsh.
Ngoc Phuong Tram Nguyen and Mayor Richard Marsh.

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