I had intended to meet up with my uncle and aunt and as a consequence I found myself in a country town hall with 150 people dressed in orange clothes.
No, it wasn’t a Hari Krishna gathering, but rather, Dutch people from Western Victoria celebrating their origins with food and festivities in a small town called Timboon. It hadn’t been my intention to go there but that was where my rellies were going to be – the mountain and Mohammed and all that. Behind some trestle tables there was a roaring trade in Dutch foods – soups, bread toppings (Dutchies love there chocolate and candy sprinkles), biscuits and so on.
I knew I was among Dutch people. There were very few “please’s” and “excuses me’s”. Everything was stated in that unnervingly abrupt “take it or leave it” manner – not malicious just matter of fact! It is a way of conversing that makes our German cousins, in contrast, appear downright warm and friendly.
Some of the people, like me, were very young when they immigrated and yet here they were celebrating the coronation of a new king, doing quizzes about the Dutch royal family and trying to speak Dutch – asking each other what boat they came out on. Yes, most of us were 1950s boat people!
This unexpected experience was a bizarre reminder that our first few years can have such a powerful and life long influence on us. Most of these people have spent the vast majority of their lives in Australia and yet there is a corner of their heart that is always a flat, soggy, tulip infested part of Holland.
Well, I had better put aside the roll mops and zoute drop, find my clogs so I can go out and do some gardening in this blistering 10C heat!