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Australia Day – now what is that all about…?


During our recent holiday at the seaside (last week), I would make a daily early morning pilgrimage down to the surf.  The most direct route was through the camping ground – the hodge-podge of tents and camper vans, surfboards, BBQs, plastic furniture, clothes lines, potted plants and practically anything else you can think of (including kitchen sinks); all neatly and compactly arranged within the patchwork of allotted  spaces.  On each successive day drawing towards our national day, more and more Australian flags of different sizes appeared around the place.   Some huge -draped on sides of tents and vans and others much smaller on little wire antennas poking up here and there or connected on rope by the dozen  – bunting style – and suspended between tents and around  entrances.   Over the week they appeared everywhere to the point where the sites without any national flags were the odd ones out.  It was like the crazy Christmas lighting that breaks out in some suburban streets, where a madness takes over the community, and any sense of subtlety or taste is lost – more is better.  But what does it mean?   The date is about the establishment of a small colony – or more precisely a British penal colony and strategic outpost.  It was the beginning of a rather crazy sequence of events that would finally lead to founding of a nation but hardly a very auspicious occasion in itself in that most of the colonisers were there under sufferance and  it was only the founding one colony of many (that developed independently of each other) that would finally make up the nation of  Australia. For many amongst us it signals the real beginning of the end of their culture in its fullest and richest sense.  Of course the date that should be celebrated is the first day of federation – because before that we really didn’t have a nation – but unfortunately that date is already taken up by another public holiday.  So we are stuck with this less than second best mongrel of a date that many are trying very hard to rationalise and love.  But for most of us it’s just never going to work no matter how many flags we wave.




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