I Still Call Australia Home

Once again it hit me full force, like a bolt out of the blue.

We have my husband Peter’s Finnish relatives staying with us, visiting Australia for the first time. Among other places we have shown them The Sydney Opera House in Sydney, The Parliament House in Canberra, Sir George historic boutique bar in Jugiong, The Sherbrooke Rainforest at Dandenong Ranges and De Bortoli Winery in Yarra Valley here in Victoria.

We have driven hundreds of kilometres in the sunburnt outback, the vast heartland of Australia. The cities are large and impressive but the people and land of the Outback embody much that is most distinctive and characteristic of Australia.

Australia has places of exquisite beauty and wildness. It is full of extremes, alternately lush and bountiful, harsh, and inhospitable. Sometimes ravaged by bushfires, at other times drenched by floods and hammered by storms, always reminding us just how severe this land can be.

But the people of Australia are warm and hospitable. They are friendly and easy-going, renowned for their laid-back nature and unique sense of humour.

Our Finnish visitors left to explore the city of Melbourne on their own this morning. I am having a day of rest at home. As they were leaving, Peter’s cousin Erkki made a comment to me: “you are an aussie”. Having time on my own I started to ponder this statement.

Being Finnish-Australian and a migrant child, I am bi-cultural, identifying with two cultures simultaneously. My life has been a collision of two worlds. So where do I belong exactly? There are days when I feel: “Neither Here Nor There, I Do Not Belong Anywhere”, yet I have times that I so totally feel like I belong in both, fully Finnish yet fully Australian.

Are these thoughts only familiar to those of us who migrated as children, like I did? Or do others ponder similar issues? At 56 years old, I have lived 12 years in Finland and 44 years in Australia. Yet when you consider my heritage and deep Finnish roots, as well as my love of my birth country, discovering my cultural identity is not all about adding up numbers.

With these kinds of thoughts occupying my mind, a song began playing on the radio. It is a song that every Australian knows and can sing along to. But the emotions it provoked within me caught me totally by surprise. Here I am, a Naturally Nordic me, yet stirred to tears by this song by Peter Allen “I still call Australia Home”. I turned the volume up and sang along to it, only stopping at places when I got all chocked up.

“I’ve been to cities that never close down, From New York to Rio and Old London town, But no matter how far, Or how wide I roam, I still call Australia home. I’m always travelin’, And I love bein’ free, So I keep leavin’ the sun and the sea, But my heart lies waiting over the foam, I still call Australia home. All the sons and daughters spinning ‘round the world, Away from their families and friends, Ah, but as the world gets older and colder, It’s good to know where your journey ends. And someday we’ll all be together once more, When all the ships come back to the shore, Then I realise something I’ve always known, I still call Australia home. No matter how far, Or how wide I roam, I still call Australia home”.

When the music stopped, with tears in my eyes I had to admit that I would response in a similar way to a song by Jukka Kuoppamäki called Juuret Suomessa (Roots in Finland) or the Finlandia hymn describing Finland’s dawn. Can I then conclude anything else but to say that biculturalism is the personal blend of cultural heritage and lived experiences. It is a reconciliation of both cultures to forge a new, proud, and unique identity.  

Spring, summer, autumn, and winter follow another. The years go by. There are days that I simply go about my life without giving much thought to my identity. Yet, sometimes these kinds of thoughts hit me full force, like a bolt out of the blue and I stop to ponder just how the mix of two cultures has moulded me into the person I am today.

Bi-cultural people are invaluable in today’s world since they are bridges between the cultures they belong to. I am proud to be a bridge between the generations before me and the generations after me, a bridge between Finland and Australia.

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. Peter says:

    What an eloquent, ardent, emotional and ah, so to the point, reflection of one’s complex identity…affinity to two cultures, not competing with but complementing each other, the beauty of which is so different yet so real and honest in so many uplifting ways.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! Yes, two totally different countries, languages and cultures. Both so beautiful in their own way. And the thoughts on identity are complex indeed!


  2. Anne-Marie says:

    I so agree, “Bicultural people are invaluable in today’s world since they are bridges between the cultures they belong to…”. They enrich us!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. How wonderful to hear that you agree! I have always felt that my calling in life is to be a bridge.


      1. Anne-Marie says:

        The picture of a bridge is so rich! In a way, people walk on bridges and that must hurt at times. The bridge may creak with the weight and need repairs. Yet a bridge would also witness people coming and going and delight in that. There would be delightful conversations on the bridge. The bridge would relish the ability to give freedom to people to go into spaces they never thought possible. A bridge is a constant in the dark and in the light. I like the idea that the Holy Spirit may be a bridge builder. Being called to be a bridge opens up many possibilities while being firmly grounded where it is. There is an invitation in the calling for others to also become bridges…..

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow!! I love your thoughts on bridges! These kinds of thoughts are precious o me!!!


      3. Anne-Marie says:

        Thanks so much for inspiring me to think about it…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hanna says:

    So well and beautifully written 😊.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Hanna, so much!!!


  4. I was almost in tears as well when reading this. I have always wanted to visit Australia, in fact when I was a teenager we came close to moving there. Australia is still on my bucket list. Maybe someday. I share the same type of feelings sometimes but at a lesser degree of cultural differences I am sure. I am from the United States. I was born in Idaho and currently live in Montana. As a child we moved quite often. I lived in Idaho, California, and Oregon. As an adult I have lived in Washington, Nevada, and Montana, where we still remain. Although life in the U.S. is much the same, each state has its own little cultural differences. I love Montana and call it home, but a part of my heart and who I am is still part all those places I’ve lived ,and the memories that were lived in each place will live with and be a part of me forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe someday indeed!!! How lovely to hear my writing has touched you. Yes, moving from one place to another does tend to do something to us. Thank you SO much for sharing your thoughts with me!!!


  5. Anneli Jortikka says:

    Please publish a book of short stories, Jaana. These are so very good!

    Anneli 😊


    1. Thank you Anneli!! I have to consider doing so!


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