I’ve had this title for a post in my head for over a week as I keenly anticipated the arrival of the wine divine. The reality is the wine has not yet arrived. Dommage! Last time my friends sent me wine from France it took five days to arrive. This time..well It will be two weeks next Monday. How Disappointing! I’ll be forced to buy a good New Zealand white to celebrate the national day. Like the people who live here, Australian wine has too much sun in it and this produces a stronger alcoholic element to the drink. I could of course, like some Australians, ignore the public holiday and sometimes in the past I have, but it’s also good to celebrate the end of the long summer holidays when people return to work and little ones start or recommence school. To me Australia day signifies the true ending of one year before a new one begins in earnest.The fact that the day is close to Chinese New Year is another reason to celebrate.
Why ‘Straya Day? Well we Aussies, for some unknown reason, love to shorten long words ( Australia/Straya) and lengthen short words (Tom/Tommo, Jack/Jackie, Ivy/Ivez..etc) Its all part of “Strine” that peculiar patois of Australian English.
In the past Australia day used to be a pretty low key event; we’re not a nationalistic country. It was a day off work when people had a swim, barbecue (barbie) or spent the day playing or watching cricket on the tv. In recent years, the celebration of the founding of modern day Australia by the English in 1788, has become more serious and this is a good thing.
For a start, we are beginning to appreciate that not all Australians find the day a time for celebration. To many Indigenous people its called Invasion day or Survival day. Its a painful memorial to all that they lost when Captain Cook stepped onto the soil of Botany Bay declaring it “Terra Nullius” (No Mans Land) and therefore ripe for inclusion in the British Empire.Within a year of his landing smallpox had decimated three quarters of the Eora tribe at Sydney.Some Australians think the Indigenous peoples “should just get over it” and leave the past behind, yet all Australians white and black celebrate Anzac day each year when we honnour those who died in all wars from the South African Boer War to Afghanistan and Syria. The council of Fremantle (Freo) south of Perth has decided to move their official Australia Day celebrations to the 28th of January so that all of the community can truly celebrate what’s good about the country.
In a world where the values of grabbing, hoarding and excluding have become de rigeur, this marks the beginning of a meaningful conversation and hopeful change where all Australians are recognised and valued. I’ll drink to that- but but only if its French wine!