Meet Dutch Australian Siobhan O’Toole

Clogheels wedding

This article is part of a series sharing the stories of Dutch Australians.  Today I have the pleasure of introducing Siobhan.  I have had the pleasure of getting to know Siobhan a little via this email interview and also through another article that will be published on Dutch Australian soon about her business Clogheels.

Here’s her story….

Name: Siobhan Katherine “I am not an Irish Catholic” O’Toole

Place of birth: A small country piece of heaven called Cobram, Victoria Australia

Current place of residence: Bondi, Australia aka “The bubble”

Previous place/s of residence: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Den Haag, Netherlands; Brussels, Belgium; Douglas, IOM; Melbourne, Australia; San Antonio, USA.

Connections to Australia: Born and raised here

 Connections to The Netherlands: Lived in Netherlands for 5 years and have a Dutch husband, Marcel, and countless lifetime Dutch friends.

What is your level of fluency in English/NL? Fluent Aussie, Dutch conversational, English basic

Family background: English/Irish

What are your feelings about Australia?

Dorothy MacKellar said it best

“I love a sunburnt country,

A land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges,

Of droughts and flooding rains.

I love her far horizons,

I love her jewel-sea,

Her beauty and her terror –

The wide brown land for me!”

There are things that drive me insane about Australia but mostly it is one of the greatest countries to live.

What are your feelings about The Netherlands?

Love of orange  – I had never worn orange until I went to the Netherlands and now my wardrobe has multiple orange items, not limited to football jerseys.

Love of the Dutch people – everywhere. I decided to move to the Netherlands because I had met Dutch people all over the world – from Syrian deserts to African savannahs. I had liked many that I had met and had an opportunity to work in Europe, so Amsterdam it was. I loved how much more socially conscious I became. I had reverse culture shock coming back to Australia where equality has quite a different meaning. Dutch understand what friendship is and understand respect for others and more oft than not for themselves – which also resonates in business. It is not a culture where you are only a man if you can hit something hard, chug down beer and demoralise other humans.

Love and Hate of Schiphol Gate D56 – 40 mins walk from the entrance – can’t we all have Segway’s ? Yet it is so close to Amsterdam.

Depending on which country you are based in, do you visit Australia/The Netherlands at all?

I visit every year and would like to spend more time in both countries (at least 3 months a year) where I am actually living. I was hoping that Richard Branson would focus less on space travel and focus his efforts on a direct flight of less than 16 hours between Europe and Australia.

We are working on business ventures that will keep us between Amsterdam and Sydney on a very frequent basis.

Do you celebrate Dutch/Australian holidays/traditions if you are living in the alternate country?

Melbourne has a great Dutch community with events that I attended regularly including Queens day 2012. Who could pass up the opportunity to eat bitterballen, drink overpriced Heineken and listen to obnoxiously loud Dutch music whilst dressed in the ever so flattering bright orange.

Since I moved to Sydney I have been less involved as I have been working on the importation of my very own Dutchy – Marcel – whom I met in April 2013 whilst launching my business ClogHeels.  We were married in May this year!

Any other information you’d like to share on your Dutch/Australian connections?

I admire Dutch in business; they are known to be good traders but they also get involved in many ethical projects and spearhead innovation.

Thank you to Siobhan for taking part.  Would you like to share your story?  Please contact us!

4 thoughts on “Meet Dutch Australian Siobhan O’Toole

  1. Great interview. I looked up clogheels. They look great, I would love to buy a pair!

    I am interested to hear how the visa process is going? I am an Australian looking to organise a visa for my Dutch partner. We had no trouble getting organising my visa to live in Netherlands, but it looks like the Australian immigration is going to be a much harder process. I am interested to hear how other Aussies found the experience and if anyone went through a migration agent and if this helped?

    1. Thanks for your comment Jo, there is another article I’m publishing today with more about Clogheels so you may like to take a look! I’ll ask Siobhan to come and have a look at your comment too. With my Dutch husband, we went through the process more than 7 years ago while in The Netherlands – we had to send a lot of documentation to the Australian Embassy in Germany – there was a big long list from memory with all sorts of things we needed to show to prove a genuine relationship – but once we submitted everything it all went quite quickly and smoothly. When we moved to Australia, they had also changed a rule that you had to live there for 4 years (up from 2 years) before applying for citizenship – but again, went fairly smoothly once you make sure you have everything you need. I looked into using a migration agent but they were insanely expensive and if you are a fairly straightforward case (we were a married couple, one Dutch citizen and one Australian), it went fine. Had we used a migration agent, it would have cost us several thousand more for the same result. I’d recommend first just reading the websites back to front, read through the forms in detail and if it all makes sense, you probably don’t need an agent. If it’s a more complex case, then perhaps you could. Good luck! -Renee

  2. Hi Renee,

    Great to read your story amongst others. Makes me feel a little more positive about my own situation. I am an Aussie with a dutch partner. I’ve just moved here and we plan to stay a year or two ( i have a 5 yr visa, he is my sponsor) but would like to ultimately move back to Australia after that time. I remember looking at getting him to Australia and it was a little complicated. But now we have been together for 2+ years and by the time we move to Australia will have been living together for a number of years (as this was one of the requirements) I just have a question what you wrote about “When we moved to Australia, they had also changed a rule that you had to live there for 4 years (up from 2 years)” What do you mean by this? Do we need to move there for a number of years before he can apply for citizenship? Can they work during this time or not until their Citizenship is allowed and is it a limited type of work?

    Thanks for sharing your story, its great to hear about other people who have been, going or gone through the same type of thing.



    1. Hi Jacqui, Great to hear from you, thanks for your feedback. I’m not sure if you meant to post directly under this particular story as it’s more general but I will answer here as I am not able to move comments. Yes, what I meant was that before we moved, you had to live in Australia for 2 years before you were allowed to apply for citizenship. Then it changed to needing to live there for 4 years. You were still a resident – and could work (depending on the conditions of your visa), however were not a citizen (so couldn’t vote for example). During the residency, we were on a partner visa and one of the conditions on that was you needed an Australian sponsor – which was me. That basically meant, if he wasn’t able to find work, he also wasn’t eligible for benefits, and I was financially responsible for him as his sponsor. Rules seem to change regularly so make sure you check with the embassy what applies in your situation. I always enjoy hearing stories from others too and you are most welcome to submit a guest post about your experiences. Good luck! -Renee

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