Friday, January 25, 2013

I Love Australia!

Australia Day, the 26th January, commemorates the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove in 1788.  The second fleet followed in 1790, and the third in 1791.  Those first years were very hard and the colony very nearly failed. Australia back then was not for sissies.

I am very proud to be an Aussie :)

I even had an ancestor who came out on that First Fleet.  His name was Francis Garland.  He was one of a group of six men who committed highway robbery, stealing twelve yards of muslin and other goods valued at five pounds, for which crime he was sentenced to death in 1783.  This was reprieved to seven years transportation.  Francis was first sent to one of the infamous Thames hulks, then to a transport from which he soon escaped after a mutiny on board. Recaptured, he was again sentenced to death and again later reprieved, then sent to another hulk.  He was aged 23 at that time (and clearly having quite a bad year!).  His behaviour was 'troublesome at times' until he embarked on the Charlotte, on 11 March 1787, bound for the life of a convict in Australia.

The Charlotte was one of 11 ships in that first group sent out from England to populate the new colony.  Francis was one of 69 men and 20 women convicts on-board the Charlotte and was one of altogether just over 1,000 people (estimates vary from 1,010-1,400) on the combined ships of the First Fleet. That's really quite a distinction, isn't it? 

'SHIPS OF THE FIRST FLEET' - The Charlotte  by Eric McGraffin

I get a lump in my throat when I read 'My Country' by Dorothea Mackellar.  My heart brightens always at the sound of a kookaburra and the music of a didgeridoo reaches something deep inside me.   I love Vegemite.  I ride in the front seat of a taxi.  I grew up sunburnt and barefoot.  I love the beach and the coast, but it's the bush and the outback that call me home.

I was born in the South Australian desert, in a town called Woomera.   'My people' have been cocky's on the land, gold-diggers, sheep-shearers, pearl-divers, stood for Parliament, and fought in every war from the Boer War through both world wars, and in the war in Vietnam.  

One of my ancestors, Frederick Bedwell, escorted Napolean to St. Helena island, set fire to the American White House in the War of 1812, and served as First Mate to Philip Parker King on the Mermaid from 1818 - 1822, during King's surveys and navigation of Australia.  He also named Whitehaven Beach and many other landmarks around Australia, and has many named after him.

Lieutenant Commander Frederick Bedwell

Occasionally I will hear someone comment disparagingly about Australia or Australians in general, which always irks a bit. I can't speak for everyone in Australia, obviously.  But the Australians as I understand them have a persona that I enjoy so much: resilient, spunky, brave, generous, resourceful, honest, adventurous, cheeky, knowing, hospitable and humorous.  I love Australians!  I love Australia :)

I'm proud and very happy to be an Aussie.

My Country - by Dorothea Mackellar

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

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!

A stark white ring-barked forest
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die -
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold -
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land -
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand -
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.


  1. I'm very proud too :) Love being an Aussie :)

  2. I, too, love this country and am very proud to be an Aussie! I also totally love that we came from convicts :D
    Happy Australia Day! :) xo