Pat Cannard sits in her home at Bolton Clarke’s Inverpine retirement village surrounded by a lifetime of Australian memories.
For her, Australia Day is a day for remembering her bush childhood and celebrating an Australian story that goes back to the First Fleet.
Born in Toowoomba in 1932, Pat soon moved with her family to the small country town of Wallangarra on the border of Queensland and New South Wales.
During World War II the town became an outpost for the armed forces crossing the border, with a general store and ammunition dump nearby.
“I can remember as a young child seeing thousands and thousands of soldiers passing through the town,” she said.
Despite being too old to serve, her father was still called up for the armed forces because of his valuable experience in transhipping. He had six weeks of training and was sent back to Wallangarra to serve for the remainder of the war.
From there, the family moved to Liverpool in western Sydney, where Pat took an interest in researching her family history.
“I have done a lot of family research -I am a descendant of First Fleeter Olivia Gascoigne and Nathanial Lucas, who were sent out to Norfolk Island to establish a colony and later moved back to Liverpool and were married,” she says.
She had five children, returning to work when her youngest was three as a secretary for the State Manager of Australia Post.
It was later in life that she discovered a love of literature, creative writing and poetry. As a member of the Geebung Writers club she has been submitting short stories and poems for many years and has won prizes for her work.
“Each month they would give us a theme to write to. I wrote many short stories and poems that were eventually published,” she says.
Pat says Australia Day is a day to reflect on family.
“Australia Day is a family day. I have three children who served in the defence forces -Army, Navy and Airforce, so it’s a special time to remember our family who have served their country,” she says.
This year, she has written a new poem for the occasion – listen to Pat talk about her life and read her poem.