Eight years ago I met a French man in Dublin, Ireland. This is the story that brings us to today, Australia Day…
It’s a story common to a lot of Australians who take a gap year and travel the world. Roaming to cities far from home to explore the unknown and have adventures we’ve only ever dreamt about.
The history is alluring, the opportunities are limitless, you can visit seven countries in one week and the friendships you forge are forever strengthened by travel tales you’ll tell for years.
The year I met Clement I had already used up my UK Working Holiday Visa and was exploring Morocco with a team of writers from Lonely Planet when I decided it’s way too early to venture home to Australia. Ireland offered the ideal solution, an English speaking country where I could work for a year and have an international airport within thirty minutes for weekend escapades around Europe.
Hunting for the perfect apartment, my friend and I went for an interview with a French guy who was looking for two flatmates in Dublin. The apartment was far from perfect; it was drab, dirty, had views over the first floor bottle shop’s rubbish dump and smells from the Chinese takeaway next door wafted through the windows. We for some odd reason loved it. The room was cheap, big enough to fit two mattresses and it had a bus stop directly in front of our door. We literally made people fall by opening our door when they were leaning on the other side, that’s pretty decent public transport positioning! There was also something intriguing about the French guy…and his friend Clement who visited often.
To cut weeks of awkward exchanges short, in June 2007 we had our first conversation. A big moment because I never realised Clement spoke English. Our previous chats were along the lines of ‘Hello…oh, hello’. Hardly the building blocks for a blossoming romance.
After a dinner date in the infamous Temple Bar area where I pretended to be reviewing an inner city restaurant for a travel magazine and where he pretended to have a fine appreciation for Australian wines we began what today is becoming our most exciting adventure yet.
Today Clement becomes an Australian citizen, a thought so far from our love struck minds all those years ago in Ireland.
It brings meaning to the years we spent apart while visas were processing, the hours of long distance phone calls and months spent preparing documents to prove our relationship was the real deal.
While a little part of me is wondering if today he will suddenly love meat pies, Vegemite and sand between his toes, the rest of me knows that doesn’t matter. He’s still French and becoming an Australian is about joining a multicultural society. One where cultures converge from around the world and share together in a giant island of opportunities and open spaces.
The more people we meet throughout Australia the more we hear similar stories of meeting abroad. Just stepping into two clothing stores to buy a suit for the citizenship ceremony we met an Irish woman who made the move half way across the world to be with her Australian husband. In the other store was an Australian woman whose partner was from the US and fell in love with the beaches of Byron Bay and of course her.
When we first arrived together in Sydney six years ago the first thing we did was the Coogee to Bondi Beach walk. I insisted on immediately showing Clement as many beaches and surf spots as I could. Looking back it probably wasn’t the smartest idea in a jet lagged state ending up sunburnt and utterly exhausted but now it seems pretty fitting.
We’ve spent the past five years living and working together by the sea on a tropical island in the Whitsundays and now we’re on the Sunshine Coast, just meters from the rolling waves of the ocean where we take the dog walkies every evening at sunset.
Today at sunset we’ll do just that although this time I’ll be walking hand in hand with an Aussie. One with a really cute French accent.
Hello! I'm the founder and photographer behind The Wandering Lens. With 14+yrs experience as a professional travel and landscape photographer, all advice found on this site is from my personal experience on the road. I hope it's useful for your own travels and would love to hear in the comments about your trips and experiences around the world.
I'm Lisa Michele Burns, a professional photographer and founder of The Wandering Lens from Australia. Welcome to your guide to photographing the world, improving your photography and scouting unique and inspiring places to experience with your camera. After three years online, The Wandering Lens has turned into the leading publisher of photography focused travel guides and I'm always so excited to hear from readers as they're travelling and improving their photos!