May 17th 1972

“Auntie Margaret sent me book from W.Australia”

Auntie Margaret was my dad’s sister, who emigrated to Australia before I was born. She went there with my grandfather, when the country was openly touting for new immigrants following the end of World War II.

Having narrowly avoided a Japanese invasion during the conflict, the country adopted a new “populate or perish” mandate, eventually attracting over one million Europeans under the ‘Assisted Migration Scheme’. These new citizens became what are colloquially referred to as “ten pounds poms”, named for the meagre – and heavily subsidised – fare each person was charged for passage across the oceans.

I never met my Aunt, but I truly wish I had. Dad always missed her, and when she died (too young, of cancer) he was, quite rightly, beside himself with grief. Margaret had a daughter who Dad continued to stay in touch with, treating her almost as his own. It was one of my bigger – and better – ideas to pay for her to fly over to England to meet him and stay for a while in the 90’s. A fun/emotional time was had by all.

I can’t clearly recall which tome Margaret may have sent me, but I do have the recollection of owning a ‘coffee table’ book that featured beautiful photos of Australia, so maybe this was the one she mailed across the world? I do know that the photo compilation included a very memorable set of images of (what was once known as) Ayers Rock – the famous sandstone formation in the country’s desert outback – the sheer impact of which stay with me to this day, almost taunting me to visit the iconic structure before it’s ‘too late’.

From both its point of view, and mine.

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