On a steaming Chaco night a few days ago (8th January 2014) in Concepción, Paraguay, I was joined in raucous overtures by a bunch of Paraguayan nationals singing Australia’s National Song, “Waltzing Maltilda”. A more emotional moment I’ve rarely had.
While I played the guitar, Jennifer Wood Davey, great-grand daughter of William and Lillian Wood (original members of Australia’s only diaspora circa 1894), brought a special handkerchief out to assist her in singing along with me. It was a delicate artisanal piece under framed glass with the lyrics of our rousing alternate National Anthem embroidered upon it.
“My abuelo taught us this song”, she beamed at me, referring to her grandfather Norman Wood who was born in Paraguay and who himself never visited the land of his parents. “It’s such a pleasure to hear it again!”
Like Jennifer, my hosts around the smoking coals of the juice-dripping ‘asado’ of lamb quarters and spare ribs, were all variously the great-grandchildren of William and Lillian Wood, who were, in 1894, amongst that group of intrepid Australians who left our golden shores 120 years ago to establish Australia’s only diaspora in Paraguay. It was truly a special moment to find such a connection in the most unlikely of places.
And I sung our song like never before.
Gracias a mi querido Paraguay! Y muchísimas gracias a los Wood de Paraguay también!