Published on October 28th, 2017 | by Ann Rickard0
As is the case with most promos for new shows that flash onto the television with annoying regularity, I didn’t take much notice of Sunshine.
A new drama on SBS coming to our screens soon, promos for Sunshine promised to give us riveting television. With a brooding, white-bearded Anthony LaPaglia, a group of Sudanese youths and a basket-ball theme, I didn’t think it would be my kind of viewing, but I was intrigued by the name of the show.
“Just lived without internal walls, ate Velveeta and Vegemite and waited for these infrastructures.’
What did sunshine have to do with basket-ball and young Sudanese men? Then one night during the promos I paid attention. Could it be this new television program was set in the west Melbourne suburb of Sunshine? Surely not. You couldn’t name an entire show after a suburb, could you? Please let it not be about Sunshine the suburb. Please.
But, there it is, now streaming on our televisions. Sunshine is set in Sunshine and that makes me want to get into bed and curl up in a ball until the series is over and I feel well enough to surface – in about a decade.
I was brought up in Sunshine. In the 1950s. It wasn’t pretty.
Back then Sunshine was full of people forging a new life in a foreign land. Funny that now, in 2017, those are the exact words to describe the theme of Sunshine the television series.
In my childhood it was immigrants from Malta, Greece, Italy, Poland and Cyprus who were trying to work out what this big and empty land of Australia was all about. The Italians couldn’t buy their pasta or ricotta, the Greeks had no hope of finding feta or olives, the Maltese, Polish and Cypriots could not find any food items that might remotely connect them to their roots. We all had to settle for Velveeta cheese and Vegemite. As for culture and history…the dearth, the paucity.
All of my childhood memories of Sunshine are bad, and I still curse my parents for settling there when they arrived from London. Why didn’t they go Toorak?
Land was cheap in Sunshine, weather-board houses could be built to lock-up stage and families could move in without water, electricity or sewerage. We
just lived without internal walls, ate Velveeta and Vegemite and waited for these infrastructures.
I left Sunshine in 1966 and vowed never to go back.
But I did. About 15 years ago. I can’t recall why, maybe a morbid compulsion to see the small and sad house I was raised in. It was early one Saturday morning and I drove to my old street, looked at the crumbling weatherboard house and sat outside until I felt brave enough to go and knock at the door.
A swarthy man of impressive hirsuteness came to the door dressed only in a pair of small black underpants. He was not pleased see me. Who could blame him? I’d woken him up. I mumbled about this being my childhood home and he gave me a look that said he could not care less and we silently agreed I should get the hell out of there without another word.
Since Sunshine has come back into my life by way of a television series (a very good and gripping one too) I have wondered about other homes I have lived in over the past four decades. Now with Google Maps I can look. And I have. I wouldn’t recommend it if you are of a sentimental nature.
If you or someone you know lives in Sunshine, I hope you will forgive my indulgent reminiscing, but it is what it is. I believe Sunshine now has a vibrant and global food culture the envy of the world. I like to think it is thanks to those brave immigrants in the 50s who despaired of Velveeta and Vegemite and did something about it.