Tag Archives: Australia Day Long Weekend

#95 Learn more about our First Nations People

There was barely a whisper about the history of our First Nations people while growing up in Australia in the 50s and 60s.

Occasionally a momentary regret at my ignorance would surface—like the year a young Irish girl, who spoke Gaelic*, attended our school for a while. As we crowded around this transparently-skinned lass with nary a freckle on her pale face, listening to the glorious lilting description of the lush green hills of her homeland, we assured her that we, too, knew and spoke an indigenous language.

We managed to string a few words together— ‘yoothamurra’ (the name of the property where one of us lived) , ‘burrumbeet’ (a tiny town nearby, where we occasionally picnicked) and ‘bet-bet’ (we were reading The Little Black Princess that year)—but even our new Irish friend Noírín, saw through the pretence.

Later, any historical education I may have gained—white or indigenous—was waylaid by taking predominantly scientific and mathematical subjects. But on the basis that it’s never too late to be educated, the time has come to:

#95 Learn more about our First Nations People

It’s clear why Australia Day is thought of by so many as Invasion Day, because that’s exactly what it was. Changing the date to a more inclusive one seems a no brainer. Back in my childhood, in the land of the long weekend, it was always celebrated on the Monday closest to January 26th, so it would fall on any day between the 23rd and the 31st of January.

By way of proof, my 1968 diary entry:

(Early to the realisation that James Bond films were not for me)

Note that entry for January 29: ‘… It’s a public holiday for Australia Day.’

So—hardly a date set in stone.

Then there’s our national anthem. We stood for God Save the Queen until about 1984. Then we switched to Advance Australia Fair which exhorted Australia’s sons to rejoice. Australia’s daughters made a fuss, so that became Australian’s all rejoice. But if the daughters were cross, imagine how the oldest known civilisation on earth must feel having to claim to be ‘young and free’. So that needs to change.

I’ve just finished reading Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe’s breathtaking book,

outlining the evidence that land cultivation, sustainable farming practices, housing, water and fire management were all practised for aeons before the arrival of the white settlers. The victors always get to rewrite or whitewash history, I guess, but reading it gave me one of those rare moments when the worrying way we’ve managed this continent hit home. By introducing cloven-hoofed animals to clomp around the place, destroying the soil and eating what little arable grasses exist right down to stubble, we’ve done a great disservice to the land.

As the judges of the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards said: Dark Emu is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand what Australia once was, or what it might yet be if we heed the lessons of long and sophisticated human occupation.’

So then I turned to the Uluru Statement from the Heart to better understand how we can become a more inclusive nation. It’s a beautifully worded rallying cry for us all to come together.

Surely a voice in Parliament must be the first step?

Meanwhile, my journey continues …


*I have it on good authority that ‘Gaelic’ is a term no longer used. The language is known as ‘Irish’ now.

#37 Cancel January

This may seem rather drastic, but as I began to look at potential activities for January, it struck me that this is a month that always disappears in a hurried blur. Blink and January has gone.

With the New Year break at the beginning of the long summer holidays, and the Australia Day longer weekend at the end, there’s no time for anything to develop. My best option for the month was clear –

#37 Cancel January

It’s not like it would be missed. Nothing happens in Australia in January.

No one goes to the shopping centres:

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 12.13.17 pm

Schools are locked, abandoned, unloved:

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 12.16.12 pm

It’s too hot. It’s too dry. Paradoxically, it’s even too humid.

The long languid days are filled with the sounds of a few highly paid sportspeople on television thwacking balls with racquets or balls with bats while the rest of us sit and watch. And wait. Wait for January to fade.

Favourite shops go on holiday:

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 12.19.55 pm…notice the sign implying 2016 will commence at the end of January?

Even trying to buy something as simple as milk from the corner store on the day before the day of the holiday is thwarted:

IMG_1868… January 25th is a holiday now? 

Where on earth has Australia gone for the month?

The television networks take away their real shows and replace them with… not another interminable episode of QI.

Four Corners?

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 10.51.39 am
…gone until February!


Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 10.53.52 am
…gone until February!

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 10.53.13 am

…gone until February!

So I went looking…

and I finally found us:

IMG_1878 - Version 2Who’d have guessed?

There is one massive upside to cancelling January though. With a birthday late in the month, I’ve been able to avoid getting another year older.