Today is Australia Day – normally a day most Australians head outdoors to have a BBQ, play a game of cricket (or watch one) and crack open a tinne to celebrate being a true blue, dinky di Aussie. But Beyond the BBQ, beyond the backyard cricket, and beyond the fact that most of us get a day off work, what does Australia Day REALLY mean to us?
(For my international readers, Australia Day is commemorated each year on January 26th, the day The First Fleet (a group of ships from England) landed in Sydney Cove in 1788 to begin forming the Colony of New South Wales).
“For me, Australian Day signifies that fact that I’m lucky enough to live in a country not at war with the rest of the world, the individual freedom this offers, and the opportunity to spend time with family & friends enjoying the day.”(Karen)
“I’m patriotic everyday so I don’t get all gushy over Australia Day – but I do enjoy the day off to lie in the sun and actually experience what Australia is about – sun, sand and surf!” (Donna)
“Australia Day is about friends, celebrating our beautiful environment, friends, sport and having a laugh. Things we do everyday, but rolled into one big happy celebration! I’ll always remember Australia Day 1996, travelling on a bus through heavy snow from Cork to Dublin with a bunch of fellow Aussies. We all longed to be with our family and friends back home. We talked of blue sky, the smell of lamb chops on a bbq, cricket on the radio, cold beer, Paul Kelly songs, a game of beach cricket, jokes, lamingtons and even flies! The bus was 5 hours late getting to Dublin so when we arrived for our Irish Australia Day celebration – the pubs were shut!” (David)
“To me Australia Day means a chance to remember how the Australia of today came about. It is also a reminder of the cultural tsunami that white man inflicted on the indigenous population and the lack of progress we have made in terms of reconciliation.” (Gabrielle)
“It makes me feel warm and fuzzy about living in a pretty good country that’s come a long way in a short time. And I will be eating Vegemite on toast for brekkie, having a barbie in the arvo and keeping my stereo an Oz only zone!”(Kelly)
“Having recently established my Aussie citizenship, Australia Day means a lot to me: it’s a celebration of a country (and people) who welcome others with open arms, offering the promise of prosperity for both me and my family. It’s about the freedom to speak your mind, and be heard. And it’s all those other things that we take for granted — but aren’t afforded to those less fortunate. (Oh, and before my brother-in-law punches me in the arm: it’s about beer and backyard cricket).” (Richard)