Ten years—that is how long I have been away from my hometown in Australia’s southern part. My parents have always had an American dream, which they managed to fulfill when my father got promoted and transferred to his company’s US headquarters when I was in 10th grade. The entire family moved with him, and we had not gone back home ever since.
Even though life has mostly been good in the United States, I can’t help but miss the good old days that I spent in my motherland. That’s where I lived during my formative years, after all. My best friends were still there, as well as my grandmother and uncles. Sometimes, they would visit us in our new home, and it was always an exciting reunion, but the experience was incomparable to what we had back home.
Aside from extended family and friends, though, one thing I missed the most was visiting the Murray River. If you have not heard of it before, it is the 16th longest river globally—the source of pride and glory of southern Australians like us. I grew up going there with my parents and later with my school friends, especially on the weekends. I could still remember the fun activities we did in and around the Murray River, including:
The first thing I recall is sitting in front of the canoe while my dad paddles behind me. We used to own this yellow canoe that I even adorned with stickers of Disney princesses. I always felt proud to be canoeing back then, considering none of the other vessels had such decorations.
As I got older, my father taught me how to paddle by myself, while Mom and he rode another canoe together. Learning it made me appreciate the activity further since it allowed me to leave all my thoughts out of the water and focus on getting from point A to B without toppling over.
Surprise, surprise—swimming was a significant part of my life. Mom said that, like many Australian kids, I learned to swim before I could walk. It was both a necessity and a tradition, given that bodies of water surround the country.
The first time they brought me to Murray river to swim, I was only eight years old, with floaties and all. The latter merely came off when I became a tween, around the time when they believed that I could already handle the changing water current without drowning. And, man, what an exhilarating experience it was!
Even though we were technically natives in the land, I remember my parents signed us up for the Murray river nature experience that the local government offered to tourists. They got real guides talking nonstop about the area, merely stopping for a few minutes every time to let us take photos.
When I asked them why we needed to do that, Dad said, “Living in this location does not mean that we already know everything about it. Sometimes, we need to ask guidance from fellow citizens who have studied the location extensively.” And he was on point—I would not have known that we could do bird watching in the area if not for this tour. I had no idea that there was a little safari on the side, filled with wild animals that the local government was taking care of.
Among the activities that I enjoyed back home was riding a boat that cruised along the Murray River. It was a very smooth travel every time; it allowed us to see the river’s entirety and the wildlife there. We would often see fish and a crocodile or two in the water, while some kangaroos appear on the banks. Life felt so peaceful in those boats back then.
Having A Picnic
Of course, even without all those activities, it is exciting just to unfold a blanket, lay down every dish that Mom packed, and eat it close to the river. It honestly feels so serene to hear the birds chirping and water flowing uninterruptedly in the background. You can sleep on the grass, and no one will bother you. A lot of families also come to Murray river to celebrate different milestones, such as a child’s first birthday, a couple’s anniversary, or a student’s graduation.
I am glad to update this blog and inform you that our application for dual citizenship has finally been approved, and so we can visit our hometown whenever we want again. It should have happened last April, but the US was still on lockdown due to COVID-19, so my parents decided to wait until we all got vaccinated against coronavirus.
The waiting game is not bothersome for me, though, since I have my childhood memories of visiting the Murray river to keep me going.