Australia Day is exactly that. It’s a day all about Australia and what it means to be Australian. It’s a day to celebrate the freedom, optimism, multiculturalism of the country.
But it’s also a day to celebrate the brief history of the country. Whilst many other countries can boast centuries or even millennia of wondrous history, Australia has to make do with a little over 200 years.
Captain Cook arrived in Australia in 1788 and for many that was when modern Australia was born. Of course the Aboriginal population had been here for a mere 30,000 odd years before that, but Australia is often written by the white many and “modern” Australia came with the European settlement of the far-flung continent.
The First Fleet of ships to arrive in Australia arrived in Sydney – actually Botany Bay – and thought it looked like a reasonable place (despite the mosquitoes) to start the settlement. The rest, as they say, is history.
Every 26 of January Australians young and old and of every ethnic background get out and celebrate being Australian in a way that only Australians can: usually with a BBQ, a beer and a group of mates. There is not much pomp and ceremony. There is no dressing in traditional costume or marching bands. No, Australia Day is about enjoying being part of a relaxed society where difference is often the common denominator.
In parks, beaches and backyards all over Australia people spend 26 January enjoying the freedom and opportunities that this young country offers. Some say it’s a nationalistic day with too much flag-waving. Others believe that there is every reason to wave the flag high and shout about the place. Either way it’s usually done with good humour and a beer in one hand and a sausage or meat pie in the other!
Happy Australia Day one and all!