THE centre of Europe will have a voice in the centre of Caloundra when a Slovenian consulate opens downstairs from Nevenka Golc-Clarke's pocket book business.
Mrs Golc-Clarke and her husband Gerry Clarke will welcome her former government's Minister for Slovenians Abroad, Gorazd Zmavc, for the official opening of the consulate in Otranto Ave this month.
She received a call out of the blue in 2013 from the Slovenian embassy in Canberra asking her to consider being the honorary consul for Slovenia in Queensland.
The call was a surprise because Mrs Golc-Clarke has been living in Australia since 1988.
She moved here after completing a mathematics degree and worked in information technology before she met and married Gerry.
They moved to Queensland in 1992 and have been living on the Sunshine Coast since 1995.
Mrs Golc-Clarke said there was an established Slovenian community on the Gold Coast but many newcomers were choosing to live on the Sunshine Coast.
"Hopefully in the future we might establish some (Slovenian) clubs here," she said.
She was unsure why she was chosen to be a consul but guessed it may have had something to do with being very politically active during the build-up to Slovenia's independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.
"I believe the Slovenian government a couple of years ago started to think about how to create in Australia a bit more (of a) local approach to ties with Slovenia.
"We provide information to Slovenians who are here in regard to perhaps passports or for citizenship but also to Australians who want to become Slovenian citizens."
Mrs Golc-Clarke said there was also a huge emphasis on promotion of the nation bordered by Austria, Italy, Hungary and Croatia.
Trade, business investment, education and tourism were some of the areas which would be of focus.
Mrs Golc-Clarke said the warm, sunny beach weather of Queensland was of great appeal to many Slovenians.
But the high quality skiing facilities of the alpine nation also provided an attractive contrast for Australians holidaying overseas.
For more information about consulate assistance call 5438 1881.
SLOVENIA FAST FACTS
- Present-day Slovenia was first settled by early humans more than 250,000 years ago
- Slovenia was one of the six Yugoslav republics formed after the Second World War
- Slovenia held a referendum in 1990, in which over 88% of voters backed independence
- Independence was declared in 1991, with the Yugoslav army withdrawing in October
- Entrepreneur Gerry Harvey has opened five Harvey Norman outlets in Slovenia
- The population is slightly more than 2,000,000 people
- The official language is Slovene, but there are many different regional dialects
- Ljubljana is the capital city