Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Once an Aussie, Always an Aussie

Earlier this year was the 48th anniversary of the day I left Australia at the age of 24. I never intended to leave forever, just make the Grand Tour that so many Australians did in those days and probably still do. Although I think they are less likely to go straight to London nowadays, but probably go via Asia instead.

I was born in Sydney and after graduating from university in Pharmacy I spent two years working in community pharmacy and saving like mad to get the fare to go to England. Only the very rich travelled by aeroplane in those days, so in March 1960 I arrived by ship in England.

I was travelling on my own but met two other girls on the ship and we rented a "flat" (apartment) in London together and all started working. I had no trouble finding work in various pharmacies as a locum, which suited me just fine as I worked for a few weeks then travelled on the Continent for a few weeks. My overall plan was to work and see Europe and Great Britain, go visit a friend who was living in Canada at the time, then return to Australia and buy or start my own pharmacy.

Well, as they say, life happens while you are making plans. Through one of my flatmates, I met my future husband who was doing a post doctoral fellowship at University College, London. A year later we were married in London and my plans became our plans and those seemed to be looking for an academic position for him at some university. Nothing was available in Australia at the time so we came to Vancouver temporarily, or so we thought.

So I'm a transplanted Australian and I use the word "transplanted" very consciously. Yes it's a gardening term and I'm a gardener. If you take a rose and transplant it to another part of the garden or to another garden altogether it's still a rose. The conditions may be different, perhaps it's now in the shade instead of the sun, or it faces East instead of West and it will flourish differently because of these factors, but intrinsically it's still a rose.

I've been transplanted from Australia to England and finally established myself permanently in Canada. But I'll always be an Australian and I'm very proud to be one. The Australia I left has changed so much, but I'm always comfortable when I visit. I fit right in and my vowel sounds broaden immediately. I become a person who talks to everyone I meet, the person next to me on the bus or train. Australians are the friendliest people I know.

So by now I have lived away from Australia for twice as many years as I lived there. Yes, I'm a Canadian citizen, although I never became one until the Australians allowed dual citizenship which was only in April 2002, for I could never give up my Australian citizenship.

I have written about some of this before in Australia ---Some Thoughts and Introductions. Funnily enough it was a recent rare post from someone I introduced you to in that post, Sienna, which got me thinking about this again. Plus Anzac Day was celebrated last week, April 25th and that's always very special to Australians and makes one feel nostalgic, for it is one of our most important celebrations.

But I want to show you a couple of teaser photos of God's own country taken by Sienna and please click over to her site and just scroll down and enjoy.

I took a photo of a koala in the San Diego zoo but here's one in the wild that Sienna took.

There are so many of these gorgeous sunsets on Sienna's blog. But once again that wonderful country is in the midst of a drought. She says of the state of Victoria, where she lives:

The whole 100% state of Victoria has been declared a drought zone, 90-something percent for South Australia....and different degrees for other states, yet some parts of Queensland have not long had floods!

"A land of drought and flooding rains"....
The last is a quote from My Country, a poem by Dorothy McKellar, which brings tears to the eyes of every Australian no matter how long they have been gone from its shores, as was Dorothy overseas when she wrote it.

Sienna is not the only Aussie blog in my reader. I seem to follow quite a few of them, including
Aussie Bloggers which is a site authored by a large number of Aussies so I manage keep in touch with things there, besides the emails from relatives.

Yep, once an Aussie, always an Aussie. Although I did only get 71% on the How Aussie are You test. How can that be? Grrrrr!!!


Sienna said...

Laughing again here so much JMB!

Hey, 71% that's pretty good. I did get 100%, but so I ought to.

We have also had some English visitors, backpacking friends the kids bought home...I will hopefully get up the photos of the Native Park we took them to, a reserve in the Grampians/Gariwerd...has dingos, wallabies, the funniest wombat you have ever met! People think the koalas are cute, but they don't do anything, I think eucalyptus must space their poor brains out, it is the wombats that are truly the chracters of Australia..

I have a photo of a white kangaroo, not sure that it is a "correct" albino, but a white boomer at least...

I think our flora and fauna are incredible, the strangest creatures and hardy bush, then the gorgeous rainforests and Great Barrier Reef.

I will be up in the Daintree in August, Port Douglas, Cairns, Whitsundays, Great Keppel Isle, Fraser Island, Brisbane, Australia Zoo and business in Sydney....will be sure to get fresh pictures for you to see.

We had 6mm rain yesterday, 24 points, more forecast next two days, it is the most amazing stuff rain, we just went and walked in it, got soaked but it was so much fun.


Liz said...

What a stunner!

And what a wonderful tale. Congratulations on your 48th anniversary!

Nunyaa said...

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi Oi Oi...You can take the girl out of the country but not the country out of the girl. Hope you have many more happy and sfe returns to our shores JMB ;-)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

That make you 29% Canadian, eh?

Ellee Seymour said...

You look so beautiful, so happy, and I don't think life disappointed you. You are definitely a great asset to Canada and a loss for Australia and London.

Janice Thomson said...

Only 71%? LOL That was good!
That's a very fetching photo of you JMB.
A friend of mine was a tour guide and visited Australia quite a few times - the one comment she always made was that in Australia everything is bigger - bigger trees, birds, snakes, spiders etc etc.
I can well imagine your heart will always be in Australia.

Tai said...

We're so glad your here, but I think I understand...that poem is tremendous!

Carver said...

Great post and photographs. I love the one of you. My daughter had an Australian roommate (4 girls shared an apartment when she was in Ireland for a semester). The Australian girl invited all of her Ireland roommates to come to her wedding in Australia, and my daughter was very disappointed that it wasn't practical for her to go.

Dr.John said...

It is good to remember your roots. I have never been to Finland but my grandfather and grandmother came from there.I still think it's a great country.

Donnetta Lee said...

Good to be in touch with your roots always. I'm part German, American Indian, and Irish. Probably some other things in the mix. Born in New Mexico. I will always love New Mexico, but will probably never live there again.

And those pictures of Pam's. Isn't she doing great with her beautiful pictures? She's a lovely person, too!


CalumCarr said...

Thanks for sharing this with us.

jmb said...

Hi Sienna,
I'm glad someone got 100%. I saw some other Aussies with only 90%! I'll look forward to the photos.

Hi Liz,
Ah, youth, gone but not forgotten.

Hi Nunyaa,
I hope to get back there later this year. It's been a while.

Very funny. I hope it's a bit more than that.

Hi Ellee,
Thank you for those kind words. Life has been very good to me indeed.

Hi Janice,
Thank you. Well Australia is not bigger than Canada but the snakes and spiders are much better or worse as the case may be.

HI Tai,
The poem is wonderful, I love it. All Australians love it as they love that sun-burnt land.

Hi Carver,
Thanks. Too bad your daughter could not go to the wedding. Australians are the friendliest people, as Americans are too.

Hi Dr John,
I'm sure your grandparents told you wonderful stories so you would have a great connection to Finland.

Hi Donnetta Lee,
Even a state is big enough to capture our hearts. Pam is a wonderful person and a great photographer. Her love of her homeland shines out from her blog.

Hi Calum,
Thanks for reading, Australia is a remarkable place.

Thanks to everyone for visiting and commenting

Semaj Mahgih said...

A most interesting read, JMB and love the frock.

Barbara Doduk said...

You are still a babe!

CherryPie said...

What a wonderful story :-) Such a happy life :-)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

That's a lovely photo of you, first of all, and I always did wonder how you met the "old scientist", jmb. Love the other pics, too!

Ian Lidster said...

You look glorious, glamorous and gorgeous in that lovely photo. But, of course you still do. Thanks for the trip.

jams o donnell said...

48 years? Congratulations jmb. My parents left Ireland 66 and 60 years ago. THey remain steadfastly Irish!