The Qantas Ad that Changed Paul and Ell's Lives


As Qantas nears its 100th birthday, we celebrate the people who help make it the spirit of Australia. Paul and Ell Van Der Toorren met as children performing in the I Still Call Australia Home campaign in 2000.

PAUL: “Ell was nine and in the Australian Girls Choir and I was 10 and a member of the National Boys Choir. We were flown to Uluru and happened to stand next to each other; we talked a little and I had a crush on Ell but was too shy to do anything about it. We didn’t realise then but we lived a couple of suburbs from each other in Melbourne. We reconnected a few years later through a mutual friend.”

ELL: “We would hang out every so often as teenagers and I thought Paul was cute and hilarious. We started dating properly when we were 18 and 19 and ever since then I haven’t been able to stay away.”

PAUL: “I realised early on that I wanted to marry Ell. I’m a bit sentimental and thought it would be great to go back to Uluru to propose to her. Ell is a wedding photographer and she has seen a lot of incredible romantic moments so I wanted my proposal to be an extra-special surprise. In 2016 I contacted Qantas and they helped me create a ruse to get Ell to Uluru by pretending we were going to film a documentary. I proposed at sunset on one knee by the Field of Light .”

ELL:  “We had dinner under the stars, which was a perfect end to the most special night. It’s surreal to think that’s where we’d met all those years earlier. A year later we were married and last year we had our beautiful son, Jones.”


Paul and Ell Van Der Toorren with baby Jones

PAUL:  “Qantas ultimately played a very special part in our history because without that commercial, Jones might not be here.”

ELL:  “We still sing, mainly to Jones. When he’s old enough we want to show him where we met. We were drawn together in a number of ways in life but it all comes back to that meeting as kids.”

If you have a personal story about Qantas, please email

SEE ALSO: The Flight A Qantas On Board Manager Will Never Forget

Share this article

You Might Also Like