Coffs welcomes citizens with open arms and an ‘Aussie leek’
Despite a distinct lack of Mayoral hugs, the latest bunch of new Aussie citizens have been welcomed into the fold with open arms.
Brandishing a fresh leek covered in Australian flag stickers and a koala, Welsh-born Robert Rosser drew big cheers from his entourage when he became an Australian citizen yesterday after a decade in Coffs Harbour.
The leek is the national vegetable of Wales and Mr Rosser's friends thought it would be nice to give him an "Aussie leek" for the big day.
"It is very exciting, leaving the homeland behind and joining a better place," he said.
"It was a beautiful ceremony, pity I couldn't hug (Mayor) Denise Knight but that's for another time."
He was one of almost 100 people to take a citizenship pledge at the Australia Day ceremony in the North Coast Regional Botanic Gardens before receiving their certificates and officially becoming Australian citizens.
Mr Rosser and his Australian wife Kolleen met while working in Saudi Arabia and decided to make the coast their home after visiting a family member.
"We had been on holiday (here) previously … and we just fell in love with Coffs Harbour," Mr Rosser said.
There were a diverse mix at the upbeat ceremony, with people born in Mexico, Zimbabwe, Iraq and Russia all joining the growing melting pot that is Australia.
Jaswinder Singh Pandher and Prabhjot Kaur Pandher have lived in the country for 11 years and said they were very proud to become citizens with their daughter Sargun.
"It's like a dream come true," Mr Pandher said.
"We like Australia, it is a very peaceful country," Ms Pandher added.
Coffs Harbour city council Mayor Denise Knight was thrilled to be welcoming each new citizen and the social distancing measures meant there were plenty of laughs when people attempted a wide range of greetings - including the ever-hilarious 'no-touch' hug.
"Australia Day gives us the chance to reflect on what it means to each of us to be an Australian including our past, our present and how we want our country to progress and I'd like to congratulate Coffs Harbour's newest Australian Citizens," Ms Knight said.