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His Spanish is slow and deliberate, and he only remembers a few phrases of the English his father spoke. a silver lining.’”Florence Wood-White has no problems with English – but she sounds American, not Australian.
Her father Bill Wood, however, who left Australia when he was just a few months old, spoke with the slang and accent of 19 century Australia.
Highly regarded for his publications on the culture and language of the Mbya-Guaraní tribe, he fought for indigenous rights right up until his death.
Despite his Australian appearance, Roger prefers to speak in Guaraní.
For a few years, new colonists continued to trickle in to both communities from Australia and the UK, but the majority of settlers left, heading back to Australia or to farm work on Patagonian estancias.
If the colonists left Australia to avoid tyranny and inequality, it’s somewhat ironic that they ended up in Paraguay.
From there, they took a steamer up the Río Paraná, and into the Río Paraguay, arriving in Asunción on 22The first group, almost entirely men, was meant to set everything up for the thousands who would follow, and create the world’s first great communist city.
I take the bus from Asunción to the site of New Australia, the district now inexplicably renamed Nueva Londres (New London.) The red dirt roads and livestock-dotted paddocks seem more reminiscent of rural Australia than the British capital, but the palm-dotted landscape glows a fresh, fertile green – a far cry from our wide brown land.
Paraguay, on the other hand, was eager to offer the Australian colonists 185,000 acres of fertile land.
Having lost 90% of its male population only 20 years before in the devastating War of the Triple Alliance (when it held out against the combined forces of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay for five years) the country was desperate for manpower to work the land and re-populate the diminished nation. The first colonists sailed across the Pacific, round Cape Horn, and up the Argentine coast to Montevideo.
She was a feminist in another time, when you women didn’t have any rights at all,” he tells me.
“And my grandfather – well, he was an adventurer.” Did Roger inherit any of that? “Definitely.”Roger’s father León went on to become a renowned ethnologist.