This Australia Day weekend is a time of reflection for me.
Over 60 years ago, an English woman and a Dutch man left all they had ever known and came to Australia to see what life would hold for them. They each had only a suitcase or two, and some letters offering employment. They met by chance in an outback Queensland town a few years later, and fell in love. They married and had a little girl – me.
In addition to my English, Dutch and Indonesian heritage, my husband’s family comes from Ireland (we think, possibly as convicts), and my son’s grandmother is from the Awabakal people.
We represent the range of backgrounds and stories found throughout Australia today. There are over 25million people who call Australia home now; when I was a child, there were only 8million.
Over recent months we have been reminded of the fragility of life and our surroundings. The fierce bushfires, and the death and damage they have wreaked on our communities and wildlife, are on all our minds. The generosity and kind-heartedness of people nationally and internationally, has touched us all. Australia is part of a global community in every sense.
I am incredibly grateful to my parents for taking such a huge chance, travelling to the other side of the world to make their lives in this amazing country.
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!
My Country, Dorothea Mackellar