Members of the Alliance Francaise d’Eurobodalla were treated to a presentation of “This your life” at their recent meeting. An inspiring story of the big adventure in search of a better life, was given in a beautiful Swiss-French accent by Émile Lingg.
This is Émile’s story.
Émile was born of Swiss parents in 1934 in a small village in France. At the age of 16, he started his apprenticeship as a fitter and turner in Vesoul Ville-préfecture de la Haute-Saône. Like so many young men at the time, Émile did a short stint of 6 months in the Swiss army.
At the age of 21, following an ultimatum from the French authorities to decide between French or Swiss citizenship, Émile decided to move to Switzerland. However, not long after, the sense of adventure got the better of him and a few days before Christmas of 1959, Émile decided that he was going to move to Australia in search of a better life. A very courageous decision indeed because young Émile did not speak a word of English at the time.
All formalities completed, without a word of English, Émile set sail for Australia in February 1960 on board SS Oronsay. On his arrival in the country in May, Émile, like so many newcomers to this country, went to the Bonegilla Migrant Centre. Bonegilla is approximately 300 kilometres north-east of Melbourne. However, young Émile was very lucky and spent only one day there before being rescued by a good Samaritan who had befriended him while on board the ship. This friend took Émile with him to live in Melbourne with another couple.
As a qualified fitter and turner, Émile quickly found work in a factory manufacturing plastic products. He left the factory after a period of 2 years to join the Commonwealth Aircraft Factory in Port Melbourne which had just acquired the contract to manufacture Mirage Jet Fighters.
Two years later he moved to Reservoir, a suburb of Melbourne where he was employed as a fitter and turner for 20 years.
In 1966, it was love at first sight when charming Émile laid eyes on beautiful Emma and later on that year they were married.
While still employed as a fitter and turner, Émile decided to buy a small farm in the King Lake Ranges. Life on the farm kept both of them pretty busy and they became quite resourceful. In addition to growing fruits and vegetables, Émile was also a good wine maker. Despite the busy life, a very determined Émile taught himself the English language.
Twenty odd years later, Émile and Emma decided it was time to sell the farm and moved to idyllic Dalmeny on the far south coast of NSW.
The Alliance Française is a not-for-profit organisation, formed to promote French language and culture. Members meet monthly to have fun, discuss all things French, borrow a book or DVD, eat good food and to practise the language (mistakes and all) with one another. The group caters for all levels of Francophiles, from beginners to native speakers. New members of any level looking to learn or practise their language skills are warmly welcomed. The next meeting will be held on Saturday, May 27 at 12 noon. Anyone interested in attending should phone Carmel Mackin on 4473 6401 or email email@example.com
Émile and Emma are still living in Dalmeny today enjoying their well deserved retirement.