A long time ago, in a land far away, there was a boy. To others he may have seemed ordinary but his extraordinary dreams would transform the lives of all those around him. I say boy as he was just a teenager, but a man by the standards of his times as he was independent, working and already planning for his life ahead.
With his heart full of hope, his head full of plans and pockets aching for a few dollars he boarded a ship for a land across the sea. A land full of promise and opportunity. A land free of war and persecution. A land called Australia. It was rumoured that this foreign shore held streets paved with gold. That any one prepared to work hard would find fortune and happiness. He was not alone. Many had gone before him and many would follow and yet on this voyage he stood by himself. A boy with a dream.
He landed in Australia, the sea journey over but the new journey towards a new life had just begun. He travelled to far north queensland where he did as many migrants did and worked the land. By day he cut cane under the hot Austrlian sun and by night he rode his bicyle to school to learn English.
It was a year later when a new chapter began and yet another person boarded that ship from the “old” country bound for the “lucky” country. But this time it was a girl. They had been married a year and yet they had never met but already they had so much in common. Bravery, tenacity, courage and hope for a new life together. They settled into married life in a tin shed on a cane farm. Times were tough but they were tougher braving cyclones, cane toads and the struggle of living in a country where you don’t speak the langauage.
They went on to raise four girls. Returning a few times to the “old country” but always returning via that ship to their new home where life was good was flourishing. The years went by, they sold their prosperous cane farm while prices were good and moved to the “big city”. The dreams of the boy were now in full flight as their life bloomed with friends, children a new house and a new career.
Long before wealth management companies and real estate investment strategies he had an idea. To buy what was so plentiful in this new country, land. and turn it into the great Australian dream. Houses. So he bought and sold. Bought and built. Bought and renovated. A house turned to units. Along the way he named each new unit development after those that fed his ambition his family. A little piece of Australia named just for them.
This good fortune gave him more than his own footprint on the land but it now gave him time. Time to fish, to cook, to bottle wine, to make tomato “salsa” and his own sausages. Time to travel the world, to visit his grandchildren and now great grandchildren. Time to spend playing practical jokes and sitting at the table throwing some nuts sneakliy at each other and drinking wine and just listening to the dreams of others.
For a man that had nothing, arrived to nothing, and knew no-one last week celebrated his 80th Birthday in a room surrounded by his ever growing brood of family and friends. His little family of two has expanded to four daughters, 13 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
I am grateful to be one of those grandchildren. I am grateful to have grown up influenced by his unconditional love and constant support. I am grateful to have a man as amazing as him in my life and my children’s life. I am grateful for everything he taught me. To laugh, to cook, to work hard, to cherish your family, to never stop learning. But mostly I am grateful for he taught me to take risks, to believe in myself and to dream. Dream Big.
The image is taken form the NSW Migration Heritage Centre website. To find out more about our country’s migrant heritage please click the link.