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Last week, I heard an extraordinary song. It was posted because a question was asked:  what is the most patriotic song in Australia? Not the most Australian song, not the most Aussie song … but the most PATRIOTIC song in Australia.
Well, there were some amazing contenders. 

We Australians are ( or at least used to be ) fiercely defensive of our Mother Country- this great land of droughts and flooding rain. We worship her. Adore her. Are grateful to her and all that she gives us.

We are tied to her apron strings and, even when we leave home and fly the coop, we always call Australia home.

I remember when I had been in South Korea working as an English teacher and I was very sick. I had caught a very bad flu bug ( back in the days when a bad flu bug was a bad flu bug, not the Black Death ) and had double pneumonia.
 
I had spent a week in my apartment sick and isolated. The heating had broken down and it was minus 18 degrees Celsius. Ice was forming on the inside of my room and I knew that I just had to HAD to get home.
 
I booked a flight and headed back to Australia.
It was about dawn when I first sighted a far distant coastline of Northern Western Australia.

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I wept with joy to see that view from the window of the plane. To this day, I cannot explain that emotional outpouring I had when I saw that sight. A part of Australia that I had never visited, am unlikely to ever visit ; but but BUT… it was my part of my land, my Mother Australia.

 

What is it about the Nation that we call home that so stirs us? What is it that makes us so defensive of her and for her?
 

I am a migrant. I came here from New Zealand in 1978.  And yes, I can understand the song that embraces my ability to have come here and call Australia home.

Is it her beaches? Her dry and dusty outback? Her unforgiving and unrelenting challenges to our ability to live within her embrace? Her floods and fires, her droughts, her snakes, crocodiles, scorpions, spiders, sharks, mouse plagues and ability to throw one disaster after another at us?

And I still love her.
 
No, it is much more than that. It is her people, her children, her grandchildren and her offspring yet to come.
 
She brought us up tough.

 

People often talk about Australians being foul mouthed, short of social graces and a bit " iffy " on the accent front.  Our sense of humour is robust, our ability to see the bright side of most awful situations has seen us thrive in times of war and times of conflict with our Mother Australia.

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So why is it that we are now becoming so stifled, ordered to keep our mouths shut and told to shut up in lockdown?

Is it because Australia is no longer Australian? 

When being an Aussie meant being tough, resilient and ready to tackle life with the " she'll be right mate " attitude that saw us through tougher times than this?

 

To me, this is the song that did it and I look at the images and feel pride and sadness.  This is the song that could rally us and get us back to being what we are - bloody Aussies.

 

Footnote:

I wrote this 2 years ago and felt it is worth reposting here and honouring the brilliant lady, Dorothea McKellar. When she wrote her famous poem all those years ago, I wonder if she knew that we would have to defend our right to live here, despite having been born here?

 

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I do love my sunburned country. I truly do.

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! 

Yet I am supposed to be ashamed, apologetic, horrified, for having been an Australian. I have embraced her unpredictability and her harsh reality.

I have seen

“ 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. “

Who could love this country? Seriously? This unforgiving Land that we call home?

We can, her CHILDREN.

“ 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 ... “

Only an Australian, born or arrived, can truly appreciate and love these words, understand them and embrace them.

Australia is no land of milk and honey. It is no land for the faint-hearted. But it can be, if we only look and embrace the hidden gems she , Mother Australia, gives to us.

Having lived in the Outback, I know that she, Australia,  is a cruel taskmaster. She gives, she takes away. She whips and she puts salves on the wounds.

Having also lived on the coast, I know that Australia rewards and punishes. Cyclonic winds, seas and destruction that is sometimes incomprehensible.  Australia is a woman who loves and admonishes with equal passion.

There is no doubt in my mind that Australia is female. No transgender is she. She is the fury, the might, the power and the love and the destroyer. All at once and all in equal measure.

When people live in the suburbs of Australia;  Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or elsewhere, they have no idea of the fury of this woman called Australia. They see her soft belly, her kind and benevolent side. She is nurturing and speaks with soft words and cuddles them like a spoiled child.

They have no idea the wrath that she has. She tempts, rewards, punishes and hurts, all at the same time.

She gives rain, she takes it away. She taunts. She sends floods and then fires and she teases with generosity beyond measure – only to burn it or flood it or destroy We live in a Nation, on a Continent that is her own gatekeeper. No one tells Australia what to do.

She does her own thing and makes us fools for thinking that we can tame her.

We, who call ourselves Australian, must accept that she is our Mother and love her, loathe her, despise her or hate her, we must always respect her.

Australia is her own Mistress.

And no matter what we do or say, our Australia will never be tamed. By anyone or any doctrine.

She will defeat us all unless we accept that, no matter what, this harsh Motherland is in charge. And will always be in charge.

We must allow this Australia to give us coal, uranium, all her wealth. In exchange we must quench her thirst for water.

She is a thirsty woman.

Give her water and she will reward us abundantly.

 


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