Leaving home as a young adult was hard.
I was 18 years old when I left Mildura in 1985.
My parents were offended.
My Mother was 43 years old with a three, eleven and sixteen year old still at home.
My older brother and sister had paved the way. And so I followed.
Bravery is synonymous with the act of leaving.
For in leaving we accept that what we knew will be no longer.
As we return, things have changed.
Our parents left their mother country, Italy Calabria.
They visit her in their memories and through stories from visitors.
They never went back.
Our parents were young adults when they left Italy.
They were re-traumatised when their children also young adults, left home.
We learnt about Italy through the eyes of our parents.
Our parents learnt about Australia through the eyes of their children.
Our parents worked hard to carve a new life etched in the red earth of Mildura as fruit farmers and we toiled with them harvesting sultanas. The grapes were picked by hand into metal dip tins and dried on the racks.
The old wire racks have been pulled down, redundant with the evolution of industry, and sit coiled with the dips tins, rocks and steel frames, now rusty, sculptures embedded in the landscape.
The machines have taken over, where hands once laboured.
I remember blistered knuckles and skinned knees, lifting the hessians, bare feet prickled by the three corner jacks and the time my brother fainted from a bad cut to his finger with a picking knife.
Sunburnt, dust laden shoulders carried our parents into the future.
We left and went looking for an identity in a wasteland of possibilities, lost and oblivious to our beauty, wanting to fit in.
We left our parents and each time we returned they softened their grip.
The landscape changed, the industry changed and we became professionals.
When I return to Mildura, I find great pleasure in looking at the landscape at sunset. I go for a walk and I take photos of what’s lying around.
When I pulled all these images together, the sequence reminded me of the act of leaving, of what we leave behind. Although these items have lost their use, there is still beauty and possibility. All that we need is imagination to reinvent that of the past to be realised again.