My family often gives me presents that are Australia-related. Like Waltzing Matilda tea towels, Leunig wrapping paper, archival photos of Adelaide city streets, calendars of gorgeous Australian vistas, newspaper clippings with tales of friends or painful departures to faraway lands, and novels written by Australians.
In my last haul, a collection of autobiographical essays entitled The Idea Of Home, by a New South Welsh English teacher called John Hughes popped up. One of its focii is the migrant existence, particularly in Australia: The isolation of the island, the distance, and how the picture of home is formed of stories and memories, not reality itself.
There are some lovely "ideas of home" in the book, but this one is my favourite...
Yet in all his travels the traveller cannot get the idea of return out of his mind, it haunts him like a ghost, and his stories take on form in the expectations of the audience he has left and to which he must return. Without that place which does not change, what need is there for a story?
When I first started this blog, I was in Vancouver, and much of my writing was about my perception of this new city, where the perception itself was directed by contrast with home. I'm pleased I wrote stuff down, because it helps me remember. The sole intended audience was my Mum and Dad, back home.
Happy Australia Day.