|Australia - the Sunburnt Country|
“I love a sunburnt country…’ begins the second verse of Dorothea Mackellar’s famous poem, ‘My Country’. I learned it at school and I guess kids in Australia still do. At least I hope they do.
Although she was raised in Sydney, Mackellar’s lines were written in England as a homesick ex-pat, and her experience of rural areas was largely limited to holidays at her brothers’ farms in Gunnedah, northern NSW. Yet those 245 words have become an ode to all things Aussie.
These days the young Dorothea would also have to write of multicultural cities, outdoor dining, endless beaches, cappuccinos, farmers’ markets, festivals and fireworks. She’d no doubt also feel impelled to mention spa resorts tucked in amongst the ‘lithe lianas’, vineyards and wineries, balloon rides and comfy little bed and breakfasts.
Her ‘sweeping plains’ and ‘far horizons’ would also definitely include four-lane motorways snaking across them, and helicopters hovering over ‘the wide brown land’. The ‘jewel-sea’ would come alive with eco-cruises and whale watching.
So much of Mackellar’s Australia is still exactly the same. You can read the entire poem and learn about her life but there is so much more which she never saw, and of which she could never have dreamed about this sometime harsh and always beautiful country.