Anne McKenzie could barely believe her eyes when, upon her arrival in the Barossa in 2015, she spotted a Barossa German Language Association sign advertising the very first Laternenlauf.
“I just thought how good it was to have German (traditions) here,” she said.
“I’ve met some really lovely people, especially in Spielgruppe… German girls married to Aussies.”
Before moving to the Barossa, Anne and her husband Mitch and their two sons, Oskar, 3, and Jakob, 1, lived in the Hunter Valley in NSW, where there were no groups like BGLA.
It wasn’t long before Anne had immersed herself in the group, quickly becoming a valued member.
She now edits Das Blatt, the group’s monthly bilingual newsletter, as well as running its Facebook page and website and taking part in the weekly Spielgruppe and monthly Kaffee und Kuchen gatherings.
In her ‘spare’ time, she also teaches German.
“For the kids to be able to learn the language (German) is a big factor; they are growing up bilingual,” she said.
And in recognition of her efforts, Anne has recently been named in the final four of the inaugural International German of the Year award.
The competition is being run by Internationale Medienhilfe, a group representing German media outlets all over the world which includes more than 2000 German-language newspapers, magazines, radio and television programs which report abroad for the German ex-pats living there.
“I saw it (the competition) advertised on SBS; they were looking for someone involved in media and under 45 and I thought, why not?” Anne said.
“My aim is really to get publicity for the group (BGLA).”
There are four girls in the final four – one each from Paraguay, Hungary and Brazil, plus Anne – and the winner will be decided via an email vote.
Anyone can vote – it’s as simple as writing your favourite candidate’s name and your country of residence, and firing off an email to firstname.lastname@example.org before December 10.
The candidate who receives the most votes from different countries will be named the inaugural winner, with the result due to be announced before Christmas.