The surprising thing I learned from testing my DNA

The Secret River, an ABC TV series based on early convict colonists in New South Wales. Photo: The ABC.

So, as it turns out, I’m not Australian.

Well, that’s not completely true. I was born here but my genetics tell another story.

While my grandparents, like many other Australians, were born overseas — making me part-Kiwi and part-Irish — I always thought of myself as a “born and bred” Aussie.

Since having my DNA tested by AncestryDNA I can now tell you that I am in fact just 4% away from being a “typical native” Great Brit, and I have traces of Eastern European, Scandinavian, Western European, Russian, Italian and Iberian running through my veins.

This was a startling discovery at first but after a some reflection, it’s probably not a dissimilar story to what many other Australians would experience.

Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world. Its settlement started with convicts, sent from England as punishment. Others have fled here seeking refuge, or with the desire to start a new life. We are a melting pot of genes, cultures and faith.

All my life I mistook my “Great British” heritage for “Australian”.

My results from AncestryDNA intrigued me to dig a little deeper.

I found that my strong British ancestry extends way back to when my family first settled in Australia as early pioneers in 1829.

It all started with James Phillip Kimmerley, who was arrested while attempting to rob a drunken man in London in November 1827. He was sent to Australia as a punishment for his crime. He was 17 years old.

A few years after arriving in Australia, James changed his surname from Kimmerley to Kimmorley. Now, every Kimmorley in the world is not only a direct descendant of James, but also is a distant relative in some way.

As for the other origins in my results, I can only assume I have a little Romany dust in my blood too.

If not for the straightforward AncestryDNA saliva test, I would have never known this about myself.

Here’s a look at the process from the unboxing to receiving the results.

Here it is, the AncestryDNA testing kit that will tell me everything I never knew about myself.

Along with finding out about my own DNA, Ancestry will review my DNA matches...

Check DNA matches with those already on the Ancestry database and try to find out how I'm related with those matches.

Eight easy steps is all it takes!

Everything is labelled with instructions but they appear to be simple and easy to follow.

It surprises me how easy this all seems, considering I will be learning about such a complex thing as my DNA.

This is the tube that will collect my spit.

Once the sample has been collected, it will go in here and I'll send it back to the lab for testing.

OK, let's activate my account online so I can receive my results when they are ready.

Done. Now, time to get down to business.

Here goes nothing.

Gross. You may not think it, but spitting the right amount to fill to the line was relatively difficult.

Fast-forward a couple of weeks and my results were cooked.

Let's see what science says about Sarah. 57% Great British, that's a surprise! Irish, not so much of a surprise. Look at all these people I'm apparently related to.

Going into the breakdown of the origins of my heritage is fascinating. I never thought about my British heritage until seeing this. I guess I always mistook it for 'Australia'.

This is about the only result that didn't surprise me. My grandmother was born in Ireland and my great grandmother - who was born in New Zealand - her parents were Scottish.

As for all the rest of the results, I guess I will never know. This is the good and bad thing about these tests: they give the answers but they don't provide an explanation. At the very least it got me interested in learning more about my family history and now I can start my family tree.

Would I spend $149 on it? Probably not. I'd get more information spending the same amount on a six-month premium subscription from Ancestry. And an extra $50 or so could get you something like 23andMe, which is a more detailed test that provides information on everything from how much DNA you share with our Neanderthal ancestors to how much caffeine you're likely to consume. Read Business Insider's review of 23andMe here.

*The AncestryDNA Kit was paid for by

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