… since my family has lived in Australia.
Nathaniel Lucas was transported to Australia at the age of 24 – accused of robbery. To this day there are still claims that the goods were planted because he was such a good carpenter and the new colony needed his expertise. He travelled to Australia on the Scarborough and wasn’t long in the colony before he was sent to Norfolk Island.
Olivia Gascoigne, convicted of armed robbery, was destined for the gallows had her death sentence not been commuted, and she was transported to Australia on the Lady Penrhyn instead. Part of the English aristocracy one wonders how she found herself in the position of an armed hold-up.
Nathaniel Lucas and Olivia Gascoigne met on their voyage to Norfolk Island, were married and had thirteen children together. I am descended from their sixth child, Olivia Lucas.
It is claimed that Nathaniel and Olivia’s descendents now form Australia’s largest family. At the time the book above was published in 2004 there were 40 789 known ‘family members’ (estimated to be 80% of the total family), a staggering 33 300 of whom were known to be living. Perhaps you are one of my family?
So what does this mean to me?
I’m incredibly proud that my ancestors were a formative part in building the modern Australian nation. They were courageous, survivors, hard workers and entrepreneurs. But there is also shame. Shame to be linked, even as unwilling participants, to the invasion of another people’s home. I experience so much ambivalence on Australia day – why do we need to celebrate Australia on the day that also marks so much loss to the original people of this land. Couldn’t we choose another date on the calendar to celebrate?
Nonetheless I am glad that Nathaniel was convicted, even if he was set up, and I’m thankful that Olivia in someway “lost-it” and was found to be guilty of armed robbery. Sending them on their way to this beautiful land has been very fortunate for me. I love living a stone’s throw away from beautiful sandy beaches, frolicking in the river, walking in the Australian bush. I relish hot summers and lazing about. I revere that we are multi-cultural.
I am cautious however not to celebrate a singular Aussie spirit and buy into the mythology of being Australian. It worries me to my core that phrases such as “un-Australian” are becoming part of the vernacular. Exclusion can only cause trouble. I feel deeply troubled when I see cars sporting Aussie flags billowing from the rear windows and then nasty “F@#k off we’re full” stickers on the rear windshield. Is this really pride?
In what ever way you choose to spend today, HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY to you!