G'day and welcome.
I was born in Sydney and at an early age moved to Bowral. Almost every Australian has heard of Bowral, the home of Don Bradman. As everyone who knows an iota about cricket will tell you, "The Don," is considered the greatest batsman in the game of cricket.
Being in Bowral I learnt about the Ashes and Bodyline. Bodyline or Leg Theory was a method designed by the English cricket team Captain, Douglas Jardine who asked his fast bowlers to bowl fast balls at Bradman to knock him out of the game. Literally.
I also learned that Captain Cook discovered Australia. There of course were other European explorers, but...
And I learnt that Australia was founded as a penal colony for convicts that could no longer be sent to the Americas. Well, no, not really. Contrary to popular opinion, "Australia" wasn't founded in 1788. Captain Arthur Phillip proclaimed the State of New South Wales as His Majesty's penal colony. And it included the entire Eastern half of the continent and New Zealand.
As a child I roamed the bush with my mates. In summer played and swam in the quarry on "The Gib". Bowral didn't have a swimming pool then.
In summer I played cricket in the school yard, but was not good enough to be chosen for the team. And like everywhere else in Australia, it was almost impossible to get the bat or ball off the older kids.
I joined the 1st Bowral Cub Scouts (I had lots of fun gained lots of merit badges, but hated that scratchy blue wool uniform -- too hot in summer and no warmth at 8:30pm in a Bowral winter.)
I also played rugby league for Bowral on Saturdays (by age group) and the school by weight division; (5 stone 7lbs and then 6 stone 7lbs ) on Wednesday afternoons.
I learnt of the ferocity of Rugby League test matches against the Poms. It wasn't until I was a bit older I started to play Rugby Union.
But I also learnt of the horrors of war and military disasters; such as The Somme and Gallipoli in WW1 and of Changi in WW2.
And it always seemed we were off on the other side of the world fighting and England was involved.
Well, not just England, as a child I didn't quite separate England from the United Kingdom or Great Britain.
So growing up I had a lot of questions.
Why did Australia revere the Queen of England? (Don't get me wrong... QE2 has been one of the great monarchs in history. Dare I say that if all monarchs had been as dedicated as she, there would never have been the need for a Magna Carta, a Parliament or Democracy as we know it. So many kings were just despots with "a god given right." QE2 is a gem. But she isn't Australian.)
Why was God Save the Queen our National Anthem, including being sung at Cubs every Tuesday night? Who remembers We'll DYB, DYB, DYB?
(And I remember as a teen when I was baby sitting the next door neighbours kids and fell asleep on the lounge, waking up just before the TV station switched off to the national anthem , "God Save the Queen!")
Why did our flag have the Union Jack on it?
And why did we still have Knights and the Queen's Honours?
I remember being puzzled and being told it didn't matter as we were a separate country.
But it mattered to me and it still does.
Many decades later, I have seen changes. Singing Advance Australia Fair and changing one words from "Young and Free" to "One and Free" is a small change, but a big step forward.
Having Australian Honours rather than Imperial Honours. (Although they keep returning thanks to one specific group of politicians.)
Maybe one day we will become a republic with an Australian as head of State.
But we need a flag of our own, not one with another country's flag on it.