I'm a big believer in commemorating Anzac Day and remembering those who fought so we might be free. I'm also a great fan of our National bard, Banjo Paterson, and of the illustrations of Mark Wilson. Put them all together and you're going to have a pretty special book.
We're All Australians Now was published in 2015 but I only discovered it the other day in my local Australia Post store. Have a look and see if yours has a copy too. It was $9.99.
When Australians went to war in 1914, Australia had been a nation for all of 13 minutes. Well years, really, but it's still a really short time to forge a national identity, isn't it? The brave men and women who fought together in WWI as Australians played a great part in defining us as a people, as a country, as Aussies. By 1915, we had already suffered through Gallipoli when Banjo Paterson penned an open letter to Australian troops there at The Dardanelles , a poem entitled We're All Australians Now.
The book is Mark Wilson's beautifully illustrated rendering of that poem.
Here's a copy of the poem if you really can't find the book, but do try. As I say, it's pretty special. It's times like this that I remember that living books really are still being published. And that's a really good thing.
We're All Australians Now'
Australia takes her pen in hand
To write a line to you,
To let you fellows understand
How proud we are of you.
From shearing shed and cattle run,
From Broome to Hobson's Bay,
Each native-born Australian son
Stands straighter up today.
The man who used to "hump his drum",
On far-out Queensland runs
Is fighting side by side with some
Tasmanian farmer's sons.
The fisher-boys dropped sail and oar
To grimly stand the test,
Along that storm-swept Turkish shore,
With miners from the west.
The old state jealousies of yore
Are dead as Pharaoh's sow,
We're not State children any more —
We're all Australians now!
Our six-starred flag that used to fly
Half-shyly to the breeze,
Unknown where older nations ply
Their trade on foreign seas,
Flies out to meet the morning blue
With Vict'ry at the prow;
For that's the flag the Sydney flew,
The wide seas know it now!
The mettle that a race can show
Is proved with shot and steel,
And now we know what nations know
And feel what nations feel.
The honoured graves beneath the crest
Of Gaba Tepe hill
May hold our bravest and our best,
But we have brave men still.
With all our petty quarrels done,
We have, through what you boys have done,
A history of our own.
Our old world diff'rences are dead,
Like weeds beneath the plough,
For English, Scotch, and Irish-bred,
They're all Australians now!
So now we'll toast the Third Brigade
That led Australia's van,
For never shall their glory fade
In minds Australian.
Fight on, fight on, unflinchingly,
Till right and justice reign.
Fight on, fight on, till Victory
Shall send you home again.
And with Australia's flag shall fly
A spray of wattle-bough
To symbolise our unity —
We're all Australians now.
Here's Wallis and Matilda's version set to music. It's pretty special, too.