I grew up in Australia from the time I was 13 until my mid 20-‘s. I was a British immigrant kid whose father fought the NAZI’S in WW2 and met Aussie troops in the middle east. They told my dad about the “milk and honey” life in Australia after the war.
So Dad took us there on a migrant boat. It was quite a mind-blowing experience!. I was an English schoolboy whose friends were the local village nobility…we were gentile, well-mannered and learned French and Latin at school. My school was actually Lord Nelson’s country home 18 miles out of London in a village called Shepperton on Thames.
When originally confronted with Australia at the city of Perth I stepped off the migrant boat and was greeted by a dock worker who said “G’Day Snowy” I had no idea what he was talking about…but here’s the translation : “Good morning blonde person!”
He was rough and ready and friendly…and that’s exactly what Australia turned out to be. Nothing has changed in 50 years.
Initially I was appalled by the crudeness and lack of manners and out right bigotry of the Australians in 1948. To me they were loutish and bullies. My accent was maligned and I was forced at school into physical fist fights..I was actually tied to a tree one day and beaten with sticks by some bigger kids.
The BIGOTRY in those days was against the British and European migrants who came after the war to the “land of milk and honey”. We were called “Pommy bastards” and “Reffo’s” mainly because we were the one’s that took on many of the more menial jobs that Aussies didn’t want to do. Sound familiar?
My dad worked in a garage fixing cars..in England he was an executive in a Public Relations firm. He was highly educated and brilliant. Even with the bullying and the bigotry however we all felt we were better off than in post war England…Sound familiar?
All Aussies were not bigots and bullies however but what ever they were …you had to really work to get their respect..Australians are not bullshitters…They respect honesty and the will to compete.
So when I won a few fights and made some other kids bleed playing an organized mayhem called Rugby League…and when I out swam the other little “Aussie bastards” at surf swimming… I suddenly became “Hopper!” my nickname for life …I was accepted..I passed the test…and almost overnight I was Captain of the Rugby team and a full member on the South Narrabeen surf club. These honors allowed me to smash kids in the mouth on the RUGBY field and swim in shark infested 15 foot waves to victory in championship races…big deal but I had become an honorary Aussie…I was never called a Pommy after that as my accent changed and I hid what was left of my gentility.
I grew to love to be with my mates..guys who would die for you if they had to.Fierce loyalty is the most important factor in the Aussies way of life . Once you prove your loyalty and your toughness you’re in like Flynn and that’s forever. It works in the military …you do not want to come up against a platoon of well-trained well armed “Diggers” …I was drafted as one for 2 years …Royal Australian Engineers.
And Aussies will give you a break if you’re good at what you do..with not many strings attached…
So I’ve been the recipient of everything Australia had to offer..the good the bad and the ugly. Australia like the USA has learned how valuable a multi cultural society can be to its life’s blood….Well some of the South West still sucks!!
If you can believe this …up until the 60’s Australia had a “White Australia” policy …where it officially excluded people of color from emigrating. It treated its native ABORIGINAL people appallingly taking children away from their parents as being unfit and unChristian. But all that began to change when the first jet airliners started depositing the rest of the thinking World on their front steps.
Today Australia is a vibrant example of a tomorrow society spreading its wings in both growth and in understanding the meaning of human dignity and fairness.
It taught me my toughness and not to take any bullshit..it taught me independence and the bluntness of satirical humor.
For those attributes I will be forever grateful as I am grateful also for being able to bring all these parts of my psyche to my wonderful ongoing life experience in this country.
I am fortunate to have lived loved and learned about the best qualities of life in Australia, England, Canada and my chosen home for the last 45 years the US of A!!
But let’s face it Murdoch’ s from Melbourne…so I could be full of crap…