After three false starts the car finally packed and our eldest daughter begging us to go (she’s staying) we leave. A thin trickle of sweat dribbles into my eye and catches the morning sun.
“Watch out………you nearly hit that car”
In the back the two youngest teenagers are plugged into oblivion. With cords dangling from ears and connected to multiple devices, they don’t make a sound.
Australia Day like Vegemite…love it, hate it or is there a sense of ambivalence?
Cars previously adorned with the occasional and solitary flags are now mobile wind farms flapping in the nationalistic breeze. The Southern Cross, the adopted coat of arms, is proudly tattooed to brown skinned-white skinned arms that laze on beaches in the classic Max Dupain pose or can be seen protruding from car windows- stopped at the lights. Eskies full they head to the beach or bush to celebrate our national day.
I never knew my grandfather. Now in some ways I feel I know him intimately and in other ways not at all. It has been the most remarkable journey. The thing that has driven me beyond anything else are the voices that have come to life through the letters and memoirs of a different generation. My favorite lines are not mine but those of my grandfather and uncle. The description, eloquence and simple poetry in some of the words has motivated and inspired me and to be honest, also intimidated me. I’ve found some astonishing pieces of information. At times I have been absolutely euphoric and other times totally gutted. But I have found what is a truly remarkable story.
For the past few years I have been exploring my family’s history and in particular the life of my grandfather – the man who invented Vegemite. I have made many fascinating discoveries and met some exceptional people. I have re-connected with a distant family that I barely knew and been temporarily disconnected from my own. I had very little idea of what to expect. It was an epic journey….. a marathon in terms of landscape- geographical, social and political. There was never any doubt that this would be a uniquely Australian story however it spanned the globe with the back drop of science and war. The story came back on itself as the generations, in a twist of fate, travelled a remarkably similar route. I realize now that this was not just my story but our story….and it still continues….