What does Australia Day mean to you? Perhaps it’s a BBQ with friends, eating lamingtons, or listening to Triple J’s Hottest 100.
Respectively, we understand that everyone has different opinions about what Australia Day means to them and whether or not today, January 26th should actually be celebrated as the nations birthday. For us though, regardless of the date, we reflect about what being Australian means to us…
You don’t get much more Australian than me (or so I’ve been told) and I’m pretty chuffed to admit that’s probably true.
I am sixth generation Australian on my mother’s side and fifth generation on my father’s. Basically what that means is the five generations above me on my mother’s side have all been born in Australia and on my father’s there were four generations above me born here too.
When it comes to our family’s history, my dad is all over it. Through a ridiculous amount of late night research, he has managed to trace both sides of my ancestors right back to the early 1800s.
It all began when my great great great grandmother on my mother’s side was born in Adelaide in 1834. On my father’s side, my great great great grandfather emigrated to South Australia from the UK in 1846, where he and his wife, my great great great grandmother, had ten children, before finally settling near Echuca and having another child. And so our Australian story began. The rest is history, and to me, it is a damn good history. One I can certainly be thankful for.
So what does Australia Day mean to me? Australia Day is a chance to reflect on that gratitude. It is another chance for us to remember and thank the men and women who fought to make this country what is is today, including my great grandfathers and grandfathers who battled past wars for our freedom.
And it is about remembering the Australia Day’s enjoyed before.
Australia Day’s spent riding ponies at my grandparent’s house in Cranbourne, riding bikes around in our Carrum Downs court, running through sprinklers on hot days, playing Atari on cold days.
Cricket on the black and white TV in the garage, walks to the milk bar for a 5 cent packet of mates, or clinkers or FAGS (the lollies of course which they later changed the name to FADS), BBQ’s, snags in bread, coleslaw, vegemite sandwiches, cheezles, mum’s egg and bacon pie, homemade sausage rolls, hot pink zinc, back yard cricket, kicking the footy down at the park and the many, many smiling faces of neighbours, friends and family.
That’s what Australia Day means to me.
Four generations (I’m in the pink obviously)
Dad and Me at my grandparent’s farm
Me aged six
I was born in England in 1983 and immigrated to Australia with my family (Mum, Dad & big brother) in 1988. My dad accepted a job offer here in Melbourne and, wanting a better life for my brother and I as well as the prospect of not having to endure anymore bleak English winters, we packed up and off we flew to start a new life “down-under” – which of course was all the rage back in the 80’s.
We lived in Cheltenham for six months in a small rental unit, before buying a house in Frankston (its affordable housing within close proximity to the beach wining my mum and dad over) And so here we were, “The Smiths” (I know! how cliche!) in a strange yet beautiful country, starting our lives afresh.
Fast forward 29 years, and here I am, an Australian citizen (naturalised 11 years ago) mother to three children and married to a wonderful husband who I guess I would never had met if I had not come to Australia. I guess I’m the “first generation Australian” bringing up my own little family here who will then bring up their families here.
So what does being Australia Day and being Australian mean to me? To me it signifies new beginnings.
I think about the sacrifice my parents made for my brother and I by moving here, leaving their house, their jobs, their family and friends, to start a new life. I admire them for that. It was brave.
I think about how lucky we are to live in a country where our children have access to clean drinking water, education and health care.
I think about cricket and netball and ice-creams and salty beach hair. I think about camping in the Grampians, sunny holidays to QLD and day trips to Phillip Island.
I think about going bush walking and singing funny songs with my Dad, Pete Combe concerts and jumping off the pier in my school dress. I think about mangoes, meat pies, BBQ Shapes and Tim Tams.
I think about the smell of the rain hitting the road after a scorching hot day, eating icy poles on the driveway and longdays spent running around Ballam Park.
To me, Australia Day is an opportunity to celebrate and be thankful and realise just how lucky we are to live in this beautiful free country.
My first day of Prep, 1989
At my Australian Citizenship Ceremony, January 26th 2006
Holidaying in Noosa 2016
Australia, a country in which one of us was born, and one of us emigrated to. A place where we are both happily raising our families knowing that no matter where we end up in life, it will always be the place we call home.
Lisa & Helen xo