Fred's Londonderry Farm
[To skip straight to the video, scroll to the bottom of this page.]
Fred's full name is Alfred Psaila, and he was born in 1944, in H'Attard, Malta.
Fred's lovely wife was wonderful in this interview, too. She declined to be mentioned, and that's totally okay. I must still say how welcoming they both were as I visited them at their home. In the video below, you will hear her voice teaching me lots of things and she makes one small appearance.
As I walked onto the Psailla property that crisp morning, I had to smile at all the evidence that a Maltese family lived there. There's even a Maltese cross design in the pebbles of the garden path to the front door. A little birdbath with creatively-placed prickly pear sat quietly and gave away no secrets of the food and livestock paradise that lay behind the house. Once I was warmly greeted by Mrs Psaila, I was escorted to the main food growing area where we found Fred picking some beans and cucumbers. This is where our interview began, and you can find that below.
The Maltese flag (left), and the Maltese Cross (right).
Fred grew up on a family property in H'Attard, where his father farmed around three acres of land. He then married in Malta in 1970, and travelled via plane to Australia. He moved initially to Blacktown, staying in rather cramped conditions in a rented garage for three years while they saved for their very own plot of land. By 1973, they had purchased land in Londonderry - the land we see here in the video - but at the time of purchase, it was dense bush. Fred cleared it himself, and transformed it into the productive plot it is today.
The Psaila story is like many other Maltese Australian stories; it is one of chain migration. That is, one member of the family is the first to migrate to Australia, and then a sibling follows. The first migrant then acts as guarantor for the security of the second, and so on. In a country where there are often over ten siblings in one family unit, this is an effective method of not only securing the family's future but adding richly to the cultural landscape of Australia, who by all accounts, is very lucky to have its Maltese community. Dr Barry York, a scholar in Maltese Australian history, wrote as far back as 1986 that there were more Maltese in Australia than in Malta itself!
Have you ever been curious about why Maltese families grow prickly pear? I was curious to know the history of their affection for this rather alien-like cactus and I was even more curious to know how the fruit of it tastes!
Enjoy a tour of the Psaila family farm. I know I did.