Wednesday, 19 March 2014


Great Southern Land

Convict, migrant, traveller, itinerant,
Tramps of fortune, traversing
the latitudes of hope, they came
South, to that far-flung strip of empire -
Terra Australis, came with fear and aspirations
Slaking the heart‑thirst of the dispossessed ‑
To reach a destination.

In the window of the corner store
I see the troubled eyes of Mister Han

Onward still they journeyed forth
Crossed hazy plateaux, mallee plain
Fenced with split rails, harnessed rivers
Wrote the songs and told the stories.
Walked along the shoreline, searching, always seeking
Far horizons and the deep waters
of their passing.

I pass by the city park
Dark figures sit like statues in the shadows

And we were there, the migrant children
Adrift on the Indian Ocean,
Woken in the night to scan a far horizon’s
tiny line of light that was
Fremantle beckoning
Woken again on a sunny dawn, beholding
Giant spans of steel above, the Bridge embracing us,
As we sailed into Circular Quay.

Nomad tribe, we endlessly pursue
a strip of bitumen
Make pilgrimages to ancestral lands
Swarm and scatter on the golden dunes
Sit in curbside cafes, read the news
in foreign print, yet call this "home"
Summon memories of far away and dream
of places yet to be.

A stranger passing by a corner store,
I see my own reflection

Jo Collett

Where were you born? Have you ever stopped to consider the difference that place of birth has? 
Maybe you've had a look at one of those statistical synopses about how the world would look as a village of 100 people. You can check one out at

I am literate, have a tertiary education, have adequate nutrition and access to drinking water and own a computer. I have access to medical care, power and sanitation. In addition I live in a country which is not experiencing war or civil unrest, and in which I can attend church and worship as a Christian publicly. I am very blessed. I am very much aware that if I were born in Somalia or Iraq or Mexico my life would be very different.

God places us, when we are born, in a time and a place. I often consider now the strength of character which my parents demonstrated when they were in their early fifties, to uproot their life and travel across the world to begin  a new life in Australia. My parents were what was known as "Five pound Poms"- migrants recruited by the Australian government to swell the Australian workforce in the fifties and sixties (children accompanied their parents free of charge). My parents had little in the way of money or possessions, but they had a tremendous work ethic.They made many sacrifices of different kinds to provide their children with what they considered to be a better life. The lines in the above poem are quite true- my father woke us up in the early hours to see the lights of Fremantle in the distance, my first glimpse of Australia, and woke us early again to see our entrance to Sydney Harbour. He knew the significance of such moments which became precious memories.

When I left England, I left behind my toys, pets, school friends and extended family. I had to learn new cultural practises, eat different foods, study a different school curriculum and live in a series of different houses.I love living in this beautiful country of Australia. I'm an Australian citizen and have a wonderful Aussie husband and children.

So it is when we become Christians. We leave behind our old ways of living and thinking and enter into a different and much more wonderful life. We are adopted into a new family. Our family is not only the Christian brothers and sisters in our local church, but also our brothers and sisters throughout the world. We may have to learn a little of new cultural practises when it comes to attending church. There is a bit of "Christianese" that goes with the territory, but don't be put off by big words. The gospel was made for everyone to understand.

As Christians we know that our time here is limited, and that our eternal home is with Christ. He tells us in His word, the Bible, that He has gone before us and is preparing a home for us in Heaven, and will return and take us home. How awesome will be our first sight of Him!

In a sense too, we may need to leave some things behind when we become Christians. Being a Christian sometimes reshapes our priorities and values.In many ways we are aliens in the culture in which we live. And we all become missionaries, either by crossing the oceans to witness to others who do not yet belong to Christ, or by crossing the room in our own lands.

Sydney Harbour Bridge from ferry

Ferry entering Circular Quay


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