This week’s blog I have decided to make it a personal one, reflecting on what it really means for me to be an Australian.
My Mother, Father and eldest sister were what you would call “10 pound Pommies’, however truth be known my Mother wasn’t a true Pom as she was naturalised in England but originated from India. My Mother, Father and Sister all became naturalised in the mid seventies before we were born. My triplets sisters and I were born in 1984 therefore becoming the first generation Australian members for our family. Now this was not knowledge to us until we were in our teens and for me growing up was like any other suburban family of Perth. My sisters and I attended school, played sports, built cubby houses in the bush behind the house but always came home when the streetlights came on. On the really hot days (Perth has a very dry hot heat with temperatures of up to 40+ degrees) my sisters and I would make a paddle pool in the backyard from tarpaulin and bricks with a slippery slide at one end, until we finally had a below ground pool built when we were 14 years old. Yep I would say we were classed as your average working class family, except for one difference, our exceptional appreciation for what we have, the country that my family adopted and which adopted us.
Australia Day was a very special day in my household. It would always start with an early rise, my Dad raising the West Australian flag on the flag pole out front and we would then head on down to the local community gathering at the esplanade or park for our big Aussie breakfast. We would usually spend most of the morning there queuing in big lines with our tokens for our egg and bacon rolls, bowels or Kellogg’s cereal and cups of Oj. Thinking back on it now it seems all a bit crazy as we could have easily done the same thing at home with no queues, no fuss but to us that was not getting into the Australia Day spirit. So after each of us had returned with our food sitting comfortable back on our picnic rug, listening to great local music taking in the atmosphere around us. This was about the time that my Dad would break into his stories of how different life was for him before coming to Australia, how different and miserable the weather was in England in comparison to Australia and the never ending stories of how this country for my family was the land of opportunity.
The one significant moment that has stuck out for me and stays close to my heart is the moment when my Dad stepped off the plane and took his first step on Australian soil. As he recalls it “ My darling the very first moment I stepped onto Australian soil, I knelt down and kissed the ground, turned to your Mother and told her that this is home”. Recalling this moment still gives me chills and brings a tear to my eye.
So what does it mean to be Australian? For me being Australian is about been proud of my origins regardless of where my parents came from, working hard to make an honest living, standing by the principles of giving people a fair go and standing up for my mates. I am Australian and damn proud of it.
So in celebrating my favourite year I thought it was only fitting to reflect on what a great year it was by noting some of the year’s high lights of 1984.
· The national anthem ‘Advance Australia Fair’ was declared the national anthem.
· Medicare came into effect.
· The one-dollar coin was introduced.
· WA became the last state to abolish capital punishment.
· The first national telecast of a Telethon was screened on channel 10 in an effort to raise money for the Australian Olympic athletes.
So this weekend on Australia day I will reflect on where I have come from and be grateful for this great country and the lifestyle that now I live by the ocean, beaches and coastline. I will forever be grateful and appreciative of the chance my Dad and Mum took by moving to a country that was so foreign to them and therefore the opportunities they have given me.