Australia Day 2015.

A couple of locals visit the garden.
A couple of local Kookaburras visit the garden: their song makes me laugh.

Growing up in Australia, I was only vaguely aware of Australia Day: it merged, like any other hot summer’s day, into the long school holidays. There was no flag waving back then, no commercial marketing of Aussie Kitsch, no singing of anthems or fireworks.  Since 1994, when the public holiday consistently marked the day, January 26, things have changed. It is only in very recent times that patriotic symbols such as flags, stubby holders, shirts and thongs have been mass produced and marketed for the day. Along with this, supermarkets promote stereotypical Australian cuisine such as lamingtons, sausages and prawns for the BBQ, pavlova, sausage rolls and beer drinking.

A daily visitor, the gregarious King Parrot.
A daily visitor, the gregarious King Parrot.

There are some moving and remarkable things about Australia Day, and it doesn’t have much to do with senseless patriotism or fun in the sun. This year’s chosen and honoured Australians of the Year are an inspiring lot and hearing their stories brings a tear to the eye and reinforces my love of country which, sadly, has been waning lately.

Applause and admiration go to these four beautiful and inspirational Australians:  Juliette Wright, who builds bridges between the haves and the have nots, was honoured with the Local Hero’s award, the Young Australian award went to a profoundly deaf advocate of Auslan, (Australian Deaf Sign Language- a cause very dear to my heart)  Drisana levitke- Gray, the Senior Australian of the year award to Jackie French, a prolific writer and advocate of the importance of reading to children, and Australian of the Year to Rosie Batty, who champions against domestic violence after the tragic loss of her son. I include these links as a reminder to myself as much as anyone else, that great Australians spend their time giving and caring about others more than themselves. 

The not so welcome local cockatoo
The not so welcome local white Cockatoo, the barbarian, noisy Aussie of the bird world.

And on a much lighter note:

And a link to my brother’s inclusion on the theme:

27 thoughts on “Australia Day 2015.”

  1. Hi Francesca, I who heartedly agree with your blog. I have been feeling a little underwhelmed about what it means to be Australian but the Australian of the year winners give me hope.. Today we are having a BBQ on the deck where we too will be visited by the same local bird life. Have a lovely day. Mary

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    1. Hi Mary, Have a great day on the deck. I will be visiting friends for lunch who also have these same birds. This year’s Australians of the year are remarkable indeed and, as you say, give us hope.

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  2. Hi Francesca – We will be celebrating the day, hopefully outside under the pergola, with an Aussie BBQ – no fish today as we are all carnivors – with next door neighbour, Marak, Luke, Paul, Terry & myself. Just a small gathering with minute work to do. The sauce bottle will be the most popular condiment. Can’t see any pretty birds outside today as it is raining.

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  3. I agree Francesca. I also remember the pre mid-1990s when nobody celebrated Australia Day – it was just another public holiday. Which is either a good thing or a bad thing I guess. But I’m truly puzzled by the numbers of flag-waving, union-jack-wearing Australians out and about on the streets. I just had lunch in a pub and we witnessed a large group of young people all wishing each other ‘Happy Australia Day’ and then proceeding to guzzle as much alcohol as they could manage. Maybe next year I should escape to visit relatives in Italy in late January. Even the cold wouldn’t bother me. PS – enjoy your blog.

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  4. I am always extra reticent about the rabid Nationalism of Australia Day. I an proud to be an Aussie if that means being part of an accepting melting pot of the world’s diaspora who has found a place to be safe and free, a place where all humans are treated equally, no matter their colour, creed, or economic circumstances, where our kids can grow up to achieve their aspirations.

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    1. I hope that Australia continues this fine tradition and that we all work to ensure that the melting pot continues to be accepting and inclusive. I fear that things are changing.

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      1. Mmm me too. Memories are short, affluence breeds contempt, then we have an ultra conservative, patriarchal and punitive approach, reliving the “glory” days of colonialism, instilling fear and attempting to restrict the availability of education for all, what hope to we have?

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  5. My husband and I migrated to Australia before the days of the nationalism of Australia Day (well put Sandra) and despite the fact that we both officially became Australian Citizens on Australia Days in different years, we continue to honour our lives here by appreciating our chosen country every day of the year, and not just on January 26. Loved your post Francesca, made me feel even more Australian than I already do, and that is considerable. xxx

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    1. Like you, I associate patriotism, nationalism, religion and so on with all the nasty evils of the last few centuries. I don’t like to see Australians heading down that very American flag waving path. These ‘Australians of the Year’ however, are another thing. An Inspiring lot.

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  6. I like the community, family, neighbourhood get-togethers for Australia Day (celebrating any day is good too). As is our style the G.O. and acknowledged the day quietly (and gave ourselves the gift of a lovely at home respite after the busy-ness of the festive season), but we feel very privleged to be Australian and the good life it confers upon us. And one of the things we love are the native birds who freely visit our backyard… so I really liked your photos. And I’m a Leunig fan, so loved that.

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