Ludwig Leichhardt – the Bertha connection!

Well, well, well….the first comment was posted on the site today and wasn’t it an interesting one. (See the comment box to the left of my post on Patrick White)

Ingrid Sonnichsen in Pittsburg was in touch to say that her great grandmother was Ludwig Leichhardt’s sister. And the name of her great grandmother?

BERTHA!

What are the chances!!??

Ludwig Leichhardt

Coincidentally, I lived for several months in the Sydney suburb named after Leichhardt. I heard about the birth of my first nephew in our regular haunt, the mostly Lesbian pub just around the corner (good pool tables and Melissa Etheridge tends to grow on you after a while). Leichhardt (ironic, seeing as he was originally Prussian) also happens to be the little Italian of Sydney with the native tongue often echoing around the streets. And not just Italian either.

One day, waiting with my flatmate, we saw an old lady approach our busstop looking a little bewildered. We asked in English could we help her but it was clear she didn’t understand. Nudged by my flatmate, I asked her the same question in Italian.

The lady looked as confused as before. She hadn’t understood and instead she began talking in what was to me an incomprehensible language but one which sounded very similiar to the dialet I had once heard in Calabria near the toe of the peninsula.

How this old lady had ended up wandering the streets in this faraway continent, without even a working knowledge of Italian, let along English astounded me. Had she just arrived from Italy to visit relatives in Australia? Or, as is possible, had she been in Australia for years but had never stepped outside her home and the company of people from her small village in Southern Italy? I never did get to know.

 

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