The beautiful love story that grew from one of Australia’s most iconic ads.

Video via Qantas

 

A friendship that blossomed between two Australian primary school students at the foot of Uluru has grown into romance that will soon become a marriage.

Elysia Simons was nine when she met Paul Van Der Toorren while filming the iconic “I Still Call Australia Home” Qantas commercial with 100 other children from the Australian Girls Choir and National Boys Choir.

“Paul stood to my right and in between takes we would chat and joke around. One of the things I remember most is Paul being this shy, smiley kid that looked away as he giggled at my (probably not funny) jokes,” the 25-year-old, who is now a wedding and family photographer, wrote on Instagram.

“We saw each other a few times after at choir events, but being nine-year-olds in an age where there was no Instagram, Facebook or mobile phones, it didn’t even cross our minds to exchange details.”

Ell – Monday the 9th of May was the best day of my entire life. The story begins 16 years ago as little choir kids. We were in Uluru filming for the Iconic 1999 Qantas ad where along with 100 other children we were placed right in front of the rock to sing “I still call Australia home”. Paul stood to my right and in between takes we would chat and joke around. One of the things I remember most is Paul being this shy, smily kid that looked away as he giggled at my (probably not funny) jokes. We saw each other a few times after at choir events but being 9 year olds in an age where there was no Instagram, Facebook or mobile phones, it didn’t even cross our minds to exchange details. Fast forward to High school we reconnected again through mutual friends (thank you MySpace top 8) and Paul was back in my life. After having many connections through school and uni, we were constantly drawn back to each other. Not too long after, our friendship turned into mutual crushes and I soon realized that what we had was better than the best kind of love. We had often daydreamed of going back to Uluru to reminisce about our first day together. Only four weeks ago I got a phone call from Qantas saying that they had heard our story and wanted us to travel to Uluru to view their event called the Field of light as part of a new documentary for channel 9. WHAT?! This was the most random, exciting, crazy call but naturally we jumped at the amazing opportunity. Qantas flew us in business class to central Australia where we were filmed arriving and exploring around one of the most incredible places on earth. We stopped at sunset at the most breathtaking spot near Uluru and as we were being interviewed Paul confessed that we were not actually there to view the field of light at all. We were there because he needed a way to get me back to the special place we had met 16 years ago. He had enlisted the help of Qantas and channel 9 to bring me back without knowing what was really going on at all! Whilst the cameras were rolling he got down on one knee and fought back (badly fought back) tears to ask me to MARRY HIM AND I SAID “OF COURSE!!!”

A photo posted by Photographers – Ell & Karen (@shotfromtheheart) on

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It wasn’t until they were teenagers that the pair managed to reconnect through mutual friends on social media.

“Paul was back in my life. After having many connections through school and uni, we were constantly drawn back to each other,” she wrote.

“Not too long after, our friendship turned into mutual crushes and I soon realised that what we had was better than the best kind of love.”

The couple had daydreamed of returning to the place where they met, Uluru, to reminisce about their first day together. When Simons received a call from Qantas four weeks ago, everything seemed to be falling into place.

Elyshia and Paul reconnected through My Space when they were 15. Source: Facebook

She was told they'd be flown — business class — to participate in an event called Field Of Light as part of a new documentary for Channel 9.

"This was the most random, exciting, crazy call but naturally we jumped at the amazing opportunity," Simons writes.

"We stopped at sunset at the most breathtaking spot near Uluru and as we were being interviewed Paul confessed that we were not actually there to view the field of light at all.

"We were there because he needed a way to get me back to the special place we had met 16 years ago."

In fact, Paul Van Der Toorren, 26, had enlisted the help of Qantas and Channel 9 to get them there. While the cameras were rolling he got down on one knee and, fighting back tears, proposed.

And, of course, Simons said "of course!"

The pair are planning to marry in Melbourne's Yarra Valley in January.

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