10 May 2023

Coffee queen can't wait to become an Aussie citizen

| Matt Nicholls
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SHE might not sound like it with her prominent London accent, but Abbey Martin is a fair dinkum, true blue, dinki-di Australian.

The only thing she’s missing is the piece of paper to prove it.

Tomorrow, on Australia Day, Abbey will take the pledge and become a bona fide Aussie.

The Weipa resident’s journey to citizenship began in April 2014 with a holiday around the world.

She didn’t make it home.

Instead, she found a new one.

“I had finished university and had been working before I went to travel the world,” she said.

“I went to New Zealand, Australia, south-east Asia and India, before coming back to Australia.

“Australia is an amazing place.

“I love the weather and the laid back environment.”

The weather and a strapping young bloke called Toby was enough to lure Abbey back to Australia on a permanent basis.

Abbey and Toby met in a small town called Moulamein in New South Wales, not far from Swan Hill on the Victorian border.

“I was working in admin for a local electrical company — I was able to do that for my visa because that’s how rural it was,” she said.

“It was actually Toby’s home town, although he had left home and was just back visiting.

“We met in the pub, of course.”

That was Anzac Day in 2014.

“I went to the service, which was the 100 years (since the start of the First World War) and then back to the pub,” Abbey recalled.

“I’m glad (Toby) wasn’t still living in Moulamein because even though it’s a lovely place I think a town of 240 people might have been a bit too small for me.”

Toby was FIFO out of Cairns, travelling to Groote Eylandt, and they ended up catching up a few more times before Abbey continued her adventures.

When she came back to Australia from Asia, it was a no-brainer for her to move to Cairns.

“By then he was FIFO into Weipa,” Abbey said.

“We were in Cairns for a while and I was starting to get itchy feet – it was the longest place I’d stayed in for two years. I still wanted to travel around.”

But the tropical life grew on her and a hospitality job at Vivo in Palm Cove ended up changing her life forever.

“I became a morning person because the job was a breakfast shift,” she said.

“I was watching the sunrise every morning and I would be home by one or two o’clock. That’s what’s great about Australia – the sun gets up and you get up.”

The Cairns lifestyle agreed with her, too.

“Toby would be away for three weeks at a time but when he had days off we’d pack up the ute and go camping and fishing,” she said.

“In London, I was working in a basement.

“Toby came home one day and said there was a job going with Rio Tinto and asked if I would be interested in moving to Weipa.

“I was keen for an adventure so we packed up the car.”

That was five years ago.

Almost immediately she picked up a job with Leah Pierotti on the Capeaccino coffee van.

After almost three years with Leah, the business was up for grabs when she decided to leave town, and Abbey was quick to snap it up.

“We had always openly discussed it (buying it when she left town) but she left a bit quicker than I was expecting,” Abbey said.

“We were looking at buying our first home in Weipa and then we had to put that money towards the business.”

But there are no regrets.

In just over two years, Abbey and Toby have the coffee van firing on all cylinders and were able to buy that house 12 months ago.

“Weipa has been great to me and I love it here,” she said.

“It’s a small town but it doesn’t have that small-town syndrome.

“I was working on my own today and the amount of people who helped and looked after me just highlights how good this town is.”

Abbey said the local police officer in charge at Weipa, Sergeant Warren Flegg, even made her a coffee.

“We drink the same order and he knows that when he arrives I usually have my second coffee of the day,” she said.

“But I was on my own and Fleggy made me one.”

Abbey says Cape York life was filling the void of her travel bug.

“I feel like I’m still travelling and it’s great to get out in the Cape and go camping with the dogs and buggy,” she said.

“A town like this makes you feel like you’re on an adventure all of the time.”

Back in the UK, mum Helen is not sure that’s such a great thing.

Abbey routinely sends her mum articles from Cape York Weekly and the stories about crocodile attacks and pythons attacking children certainly don’t go down well.

“Mum worries but in a nice way,” she said.

“She comes here every year … until COVID hit.”

As for becoming an Australian citizen, there is no hesitation at all.

In fact, she was serving coffee at last year’s Australia Day celebrations and was telling all and sundry that she was hoping to become an official Aussie in a year’s time.

It’s not an easy process, either.

To become a permanent resident is expensive and involves a full medical check, while Abbey had to sit an exam last year to qualify to become an Australian.

She will do so at Kumrumja Park in Weipa tomorrow with Toby by her side and a couple of dozen other locals who are either receiving awards or becoming citizens.

Members of the public can’t attend this year due to COVID-19 protocols.

“It’s still going to be a special day,” she said.

“I’m probably going to get really emotional; I’ll probably cry.

“I’m just so excited. For me, this is my home.

“I have embraced Aussie life. I respect this country and I’m so proud to be here and live here and carry on living here.”

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