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Soon after arriving in Winnipeg, I was having some trouble making myself understood while talking to a bus driver. A lady on the bus presumably overheard the conversation, moved to the seat in front of me, and began to ‘chat’.

“Where – are – you – from?” she asked in a very slow and articulated voice.
“Australia.”
“What – are – you – doing – here?”
“I’m going downtown.”
“Ooohhh.” She thought for a moment. “It’s – very – cold – today.”
“Yes, it is.”
Silence and then she said, in that same slow and articulated voice:
“Well – I – think – it’s – wonderful – that – you – are – over – here – learning – another – language!”

© Jenny Gates, submission to Southern Cross Group, July 2003

I am a true blue Aussie, born and raised in Sydney, NSW. I have explored the eastern coast of Australia from Lizard Island to Launceston, and dived on the Great Barrier Reef and in coastal parks and reserves south of Byron Bay.

I moved to Winnipeg in 1994 and became a dual citizen in 2003 (officially making me a CanAussie). I might live in Canada and have Canadian citizenship, but I still wear R.M. Williams boots, Akubra hats, Gowing’s shirts, Bond’s stuff, and Aussie flag baseball caps from Australian Geographic. I pick up supplies of Arnott’s biscuits, Cottee’s cordial, Milo, Vegemite, Billy Tea and Weet-Bix whenever I am down under, and my Mum sends me ‘Aussie chocolate survival kits’ – with everything from Darrell Lea’s Rocklea Road and Cadbury Dairy Milk to Maltesers, Cherry Ripes, Picnics and Fruit Pastilles – a few times a year. Since I can’t pack the outback, the reef, the beaches or the bush into my suitcase, these pieces of home will just have to do. Here in Canada I am an ambassador, a promoter of all things Australian, an example of the Australian way of life – and nothing could make me more proud. As they say, “You can take the girl out of Australia, but you can’t take Australia out of the girl!”

life downunder – graduate Sydney University with Bachelor of Arts (Music, Zoology); SCUBA (PADI) diver; editor of International Scientific Publications, Australian Museum, Sydney; Macleay College Diploma in Book Editing with Distinction; performer at Novotel Hotel, Sydney

children's performer – keyboard, guitar, vocalist specialising in children's music from Australia. Half of Up From Down Under duo with Gerry Gordon, didgeridoo player. Perform in schools, festivals and special events

DUCW – media/communications contact, editor of The Southern Yarn

© 2004 Jenny Gates | get it write. | having said that ...
phone (204) 228-9959 | fax (204) 957-5754 | words@jennygates.com

Updated: Mon, Nov 22, 2004