Posts Tagged ‘Australia Day’

Australia day, where is the ‘joie le vivre?’ It seems a bit lacklustre.

January 26, 2018


Almost ThereThe night before last we watched our PM Malcolm Turnbull, lavishly praising himself while handing out the ‘Australians Of The Year Awards.’ Sam Kerr who won the  Young Australian, was my favourite. There is just no one like her, and she has put soccer in the limelight not seen since Dutch Abe Lenstra in the fifties. Of course, the Quantum Computer builder, Michelle Simmons is the worthiest recipient of this award ever since it was introduced. And what about the other two recipients? Eddy Woo. Amazing, an inspiration to all. The taciturn Senior, Graham Farquhar was outstanding, such talent.

Next day, Helvi and I got up early to go out and sample the exuberance of Australia Day in Bowral. There could be no doubt, there would be music and all-round jollity with neighbours forgetting old feuds, congratulating each and all on the all inclusive and diverse nature of this lucky brown sun-kissed land of Australia. But, it was all eerily silent and quiet. No tooting of horns nor flag waving. We noticed many shops were closed and the few elderly people that were about looked a bit lost. I quickly hovered over the idea if they too were struggling with accessing ‘Aged Care’ and perhaps had lost their ID numbers!

Some years ago, canny estate agents had put out little flags stuck in lawns in front of every house. Not this time. In fact not many flags at all. We went home and had a coffee, pondering about what the reason was for this lack of Australia Day fervour. Was it the previous heatwave that had sapped remaining energy already depleted through over-indulgence during Christmas? I know I had witnessed mothers loosing their cool with kids’ demands for ever more ice creams or mango slushies. I overheard one mum telling her son, ‘wait until I tell your father’, an ominous warning for the poor boy.

I suggested to Helvi we have another go at sampling Bowral exuberance some time late in the afternoon, when heat had sunk below horizon giving people time to re-charge and give outbursts of National pride a fair chance. I also suggested to Helvi I might ask some of the passing pedestrians how they celebrated this momentous event and it if they knew where there might be music or even public dancing?

We waited till about 8,30pm, and for the second time went about sampling Australia Day. The evening was lovely and balmy. I wore sandals without socks. It was almost dark anyway. Again, there were not many people about. The main street was empty and a black crow was screeching its head off sitting on top of a telegraph pole. At least the bird was giving festivities a bit of a leg-up. There was no music. In the distance we noticed three people coming our way and I had my question ready. When we were level with each other, I noticed they looked dark, possibly Indian. They were three men with one of them wearing a large dark coloured T-shirt with AUSTRALIA emblazoned across it.

I congratulated them on Australia Day which surprised them. They smiled and I quickly asked them if there were any celebratory events they might be looking for. I explained we too were celebrating Australia Day and were looking to share this. ‘It is very quiet,’ I said, and followed this up, ‘where are the celebrations’? And there was this immediate response of recognition. ‘Oh, always very quiet,’ Australia is quiet country,  one man smiled broadly. ‘Maybe across the road in the pub is a bit of life,’ another offered.  It was true.

We all had reached common ground.

Too many Sundays.

January 25, 2015


Just when I thought life had gone back to normal another public holiday is looming. Australia day. It will be Sunday again tomorrow. Even though shops might be open, public holidays in small towns are redolent of scratching dogs and empty footpaths, bar for some, who like us are in search of life and joyful company. We keep wandering.

I know tomorrow will be a celebration of Australia. The TV has been full of Ads urging us to search deep within ourselves to find an original reason to celebrate again our glorious abode of Australia and what it means to live in Australia. ‘Go on’ the TV man urges, what do you think is special about Australia? And an image is shown of a man lying in the grass with a map of lollies in the shape of Australia on his round pale stomach. Yuk. He then starts to slowly eat a lolly at a time.

Even the brilliance of TV advertisements gurus could not think of a more suitable image. So what hope have le peuple got? On ABC TV today there was an hour long program on Australia with the theme of ‘Girt by Sea’. It was a potpourri showing endless waves and miles of footage with surf board riders. A relentless army of sun and coconut oiled bodies sweating themselves into future melanomas. As the movie went though the history of Australian surf, surf board riders, surf life savers, and sun baking; it clearly showed that lying in the sun seemed to have reached its peak some years ago. Younger up-and-coming surf riders now wear full body suits and sunbaking has lost some of its much vaunted popularity. Many now wisely seek shade and cover of trees.



There will be the usual cars with tooting horns going around with little Federation flags stuck outside the car window. The occupants shouting Aussie Aussie, oi, oi, oi and I’ll smile back good humouredly but without too much conviction. I find all that conventional patriotism a bit silly and should really give them the two fingers salute. I am getting a bit old for a punch up though. It reminds me when I stood up for an elderly lady whose intended parking spot at Woollies Super Market was taken by some hood who quickly put his car in her spot, grinning stupidly. You’re a real bastard, I stated firmly and without flinching. He came to punch me and with his steely determination too. His girl friend with a serpent tattoo got out of the car, and said…(get a bit closer now, dear readers)…”Leave him alone, HE IS JUST AN OLD MAN”. And this was years ago before we moved to the farm in 1996. Geez, the hurt and humiliation still bites. I was old before middle age.

As for Australia day. Here is a poem that says it so much better than all that flag waving;
Dorothy Mackellar.
“The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

A stark white ring-barked forest
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die –
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold –
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.”

Dorothea Mackellar

Australia Day

January 23, 2013


Soon we will have another day off. Just when I was rejoicing things were getting back to normal. I so wish we could just celebrate things without special days. Can’t all days be a bit special and normal? There seems to be an obligation about ‘special days’, and when many don’t feel any different there is the danger of feeling rejected and then dejection might easily follow. I mean, are we going to wake up different, jump out of bed next Monday and feel elated because it is Australia day? Will I not make the first coffee of the day, overlook the previous night’s dishes and the red stained wine glasses all left in the sink filled with cold greasy water with on top floating a halo of onion infused film of grease?

I noticed at the local supermarkets there was an atmosphere again of rejuvenation and optimism with a kind lady smiling at me in the butter section. Why is it that the dairy divisions of supermarkets seem to attract friendly customers? Perhaps it is the nature of those basic ingredients; butter, cheese, milk and yogurt that brings out our inherent friendliness.

The Christmas did take a lot out of people. With the public holiday next Monday, this feeling of a growing sense of normalcy returning while still so fragile, could well unravel easily. Routine gets disturbed.

I always felt that when overseas, especially in warm tropical countries, ever day often seemed a celebration and one lost the idea of it being a Sunday or even a lousy Wednesday. Is it a peculiar western thing to have days off to celebrate something?

Anyway, even Eurocentric Aldi is now selling those collapsible blue canvassed chairs with a kind of Southern Star Australian emblem screen printed on the seating. I suppose it is meant to be sat upon while watching the fireworks next Monday, Australia Day. I haven’t looked closely to see if it has one of those fish netted pouches to put a drink in. In advertising those chairs I noticed that Harvey Norman mentions those chairs as including having a…..’ drink station.’

At no stage have people on the streets ever been as thirsty as now. I can’t remember, (I could be wrong) but in my youth we never crossed streets while sipping some liquid from a bottle. It was never such a harrowing experience crossing a street in fear of dehydration before having reached the other side. Yet, today almost all have a bottle clutched in the hand and a mobile phone in the other. I suppose to call triple zero in case the other side hasn’t been reached.

Whatever, it must be such a boon for those drinks manufacturers. Can you imagine paying $ 3.20 for a bottle of water? As a young boy I used to lay awake in glorious anticipation of getting a drink of orange cordial next morning at my birthday. They were prepared by my mother the day before. Whole rows of them all filled to the same level and covered by a tea towel.  The drinks would be shared by my brothers and sister and invited friends.

Now, young people buy a fizzy drink, take a sip, and chuck the still almost full full bottle in the local park in contemptible defiance. I have often been tempted to pick up one of those almost full bottles and take a sip, perhaps as a way of atonement or making amends for those days of frugal pasts. I doubt however if the taste of those abandoned cola or other fizzy drinks could ever reach the delicious heights of those post war cordials waiting under mum’s tea towel in anticipation of next morn’s birthday…

How the sun keeps rising for the lucky young able to cross streets, take sips and then chuck away the almost full bottles?

We never took that kind of liberty for granted.

As for Australia Day. It should celebrate something, some event or happening. Is there an Argentine day, an Italy day or even a Finland day? I find it difficult to celebrate  being a larrikin or fond of sport and drinking. Perhaps it ought to be a celebration of something else, a kind of celebration of our artistic achievements, what with Australian aboriginal rock and cave art and present aboriginal art being unique and very Australian. Then we have Patrick White and Sydney Nolan as well…together, very Australian.