You would never have picked him for a Pom anyway, but now Wolumla’s John Deborre has made it official – he’s an Aussie.
John was among 18 Bega Valley residents who became Australian citizens on Australia Day this year.
John, who works at ARV Caravans in Eden, came out to Australia when he was just 20 years of age.
Forty-three-years later, the “time felt right” to make it official.
As a young man living and working as a fireman in Portsmith, England, John farewelled his parents and five brothers and sisters who emigrated to Australia.
When he decided to join them his life was to take another turn when he met a girl from Melbourne, Barbara, on the five week voyage out.
Forty years later, wife Barbara is still by his side, and she is another reason why John is grateful for his adopted homeland.
John remembers the day he alighted from the boat in Sydney, a few days before Christmas, and was assaulted by the heat, crowds and traffic.
“I’m not a big city boy, never have been, and getting off the boat in Sydney was just chaos,” he remembers.
He soon decided to go to Melbourne for the weekend to see Barbara.
“The Hume Highway was a narrow, little bumpy road then,” John said.
“I remember going past the Canberra turn off and thinking, ‘I must be nearly there’.”
But he says it must have been the power of “young love” as he made that trip almost every weekend to see Barbara until they finally married and he settled in Melbourne.
While visiting friends at Tathra a couple of years later, they stopped in Tura Beach, which consisted of one house, and a sales office for blocks of land.
They bought a block and lived there for a couple of years before building their dream home on eight acres at Wolumla, where they raised their two children.
When asked why it had taken him so long to obtain citizenship John said he had been “too busy”.
Ceremonies took place at Bega and Merimbula, with John saying Mayor Bill Taylor’s speech was wonderful.
“If anything, in many ways what he said cemented my relationship with Australia.”
John and Barbara have travelled a lot over the years, but John has only been back to the UK once.
He says he loves the freedom of the lifestyle in Australia, and off course the climate.
“I went out fishing at 5am this morning and the water was crystal clear and blue. It’s just wonderful.”
John has only recently tried his first pie, while on a day trip to Bombala with his wife.
“I thought ‘I’ve applied to become and Aussie, I like beer, I’m going to have a pie.’”
It was a potato pie from the popular Bemboka Bakery.
“Now everywhere I go I try the pies!”