Romulus, his wife and son migrate to Australia in 1950. | ‘...migrant reception and clearing camps...’| They experience patronising attitudes from some Anglo-Saxon locals. Ethnicity is highlighted as a point of difference, not a multicultural melting pot where everyone belongs. | ‘New Australians’, ‘Balts’, ‘incompetent Australian tradesman’. When Romulus sets fire to a stook ‘The local newspaper ridiculed the New Australian for his folly.’| They are appreciative of the new start in Australia. | ‘None looked for trouble. Everyone was joyful that the war and hard times were over.’ | Their problems are exacerbated by the fact that both Christine and Romulus suffer from mental illnesses at various points in time.| The Ballarat psychiatric hospital ‘...represented a foreign world for me.’| There is a part of Romulus’ identity that will always be European.| ‘He longed for European society, saying that he felt like a prisoner in Australia.’|
* An affinity to place
The Australian landscape may be alien to the migrant. | ‘even after more than forty years my father could not become reconciled to it.’| Christine cannot become reconciled to the Frogmore farmhouse. She lives in isolation and exile in the new culture and landscape.| ‘A dead red gum stood only a hundred metres from the house and became for my mother a symbol of desolation.’ AND ‘A troubled city girl from Central Europe, she could not settle in a dilapidated farmhouse in a landscape that highlighted her isolation.’| Raimond has an affinity with the landscape which creates an epiphany (he refrains from killing a rabbit). This is an individualistic experience, not a communal one.| ‘For the first time in my life I was alive to beauty.’ AND ‘The experience transformed my sense of life and the countryside, adding to both a sense of transcendence.’ |
When we first see Romulus he has poor, Yugoslavian beginnings. At the end of the memoir we...