Mal Garvin tells the story of Maria Ann Smith – who was the midwife for the township of Eastwood, as Sydney began its urban sprawl. She was present at the birth of many young Australians in that region and so developed the affectionate title of “Granny Smith”.
She was the typical Aussie battler. Her husband had a disability and couldn’t work, so Maria had to do what she could to survive. As well as being a midwife, she ran a small farm and an orchard. One day after taking a load of her produce to paddy’s market in Sydney she bought a small barrel of crab apples to make apple tarts. she got them home only to find almost half of them gone bad.
So she emptied them on the garbage pile down the back near a creek. A couple of months later she returned to discover a small apple tree pushing its way through the rubbish. She transplanted it and nurtured it and in time it produced a batch of green apples with a previously unknown and quite appealing taste, which were referred to simply as “Granny Smith apples”.
One day she was asked how she felt about being a midwife to an apple? She replied “Isn’t that just like God”, the very stuff that we chuck away, He uses to bring in something new”.
This country was initially built on the rubbish that our proper British forbears wanted to throw away. Down through the intervening years we have received the throw-aways of many different nations and out of that have become something new and different – the nation of Australia.
I’m proud to be an Australian and to wear the uniform of the ADF. We are different – we are a new, young nation. We are unique! And I’m thankful to God for being a citizen of this country – what a privilege!
What about you? What does Australia Day mean to you?
Chaplain Ian Whitley