This Vietnamese cafe owner is thriving in CQ
TWENTY-six-year-old Rita Twomey has gone from a scared foreign migrant to thriving as a prominent citizen and business owner in Biloela.
Mrs Twomey followed her mother and migrated to Australia from Vietnam in 2009 on a student visa and has seamlessly integrated in the community and even started a family.
Moving to Biloela was a massive shock and adjustment for Mrs Twomey initially.
"My mother lied that she lived in Brisbane so I thought, yeah, big city living," Mrs Twomey said.
"I arrived in Biloela and I was scared, firstly because I was driven here by a stranger and disappointed initially with Biloela staying at the caravan park.
"I couldn't speak English or had any friends and I wanted to go home."
Mrs Twomey bounced around doing a few odd jobs, including being a dishwasher at the Thai Noi restaurant where she met her husband Brad about eight years ago.
The two hit it off and were married in a matter of months. They have been married now for seven years, raising a five-year-old son Klayten or "Ken" as he's known to the Vietnamese community.
"I know the Brazilian, Thai, Vietnamese, Phillipian and Malaysian communities in Biloela," Mrs Twomey said.
"What I saw about seven years ago was completely different, where it was hard for all of them to communicate and even go to the shops.
"Now they are all communicating and making themselves known.
"All of the Australians here are behind us and to know they do want us here as friends."
Mr Twomey, who grew up in La Trobe Valley Victoria, was starstruck and curious about his future wife's culture, which was something he had never experienced.
"I've been welcomed by the Vietnamese community here from day one," Mr Twomey said.
"Straight in for a barbecue, want some beer and food and I didn't even know what they were talking about, but there was no negativity there.
"Some people make the joke that I'm treated like a king but I was treated like a brother straight away."
Now Mrs Twomey has realised her dream and opened her own cafe, Rita's Blue Cafe, which has been in full operation for about a month.
It has received positive feedback from the community.
"I heard this shop is up for sale and took the gamble," Mrs Twomey said.
"People love the twist of Australian and Vietnamese food."
Mr Twomey speaks for the whole community who are rapt his wife has opened the cafe after she supervised the Callide Power Station's canteen.
"Everyone's always asked when is Rita setting up her own shop in town and everyone in town thought it was a shame that the canteen was on the power station grounds and we can't actually eat her food," he said.