Seeing Dad’s flagpole out the front of our house in Bankstown, you’d think the double-brick house belonged to rednecks – or a true patriot, depending on your political orientation.
The three-metre flagpole rises from the front lawn, crowned with a finial shaped like a red diamond. The flag hangs limp on the halyard, its royal blue far less regal than in former days, bleached over time by the sun. There’s the Union Jack in canton and a seven-pointed white star underneath: the Commonwealth Star – six points for each state of Australia and one for the territories. In the fly of the flag are the five stars of the Southern Cross constellation.
My dad, a 60-year-old Vietnamese immigrant, is immensely proud of this flagpole, which was a weekend DIY project. He welded together different components and made them fit. Part of the halyard’s mechanism comes from an old Hills Hoist; Dad’s ingenious repurposing of an iconic Australian invention. ‘There’s solid concrete at the base to weigh it down so it doesn’t fly away,’ he tells me.
The flagpole sits firmly in the middle of our front lawn, the centrepiece in a modest garden behind a row of banana trees, next to sculpted hedges, overlooking an artificial pond full of glistening koi. Dad’s abiding love affair with the Australian flag is evidenced by a large collection of objects emblazoned with it, the kind of Made-in-China tourist tat that inevitably turns up at the local Trash ‘n’ Treasure market my parents visit each Sunday. His new nylon shopping bag matches the rest of his cache: baseball caps, lanyards, stubby holders, iron-on patches, miniature flags. ‘So when I go overseas, people will know I’m from Australia,’ Dad says of his collection, as though going overseas is something he does often.
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