Australia Day: Two Cheers for Australia
Two thoughts on the national day.
I remember returning to Australia after a Christmas holiday in France in 2005. We had toured the historic sites of the Loire, walking as it were through the French Wars of Religion, besotted with the architecture and the civilization. Back to a baking, humid Sydney January, a week to recover and off on a Saturday evening to open the extensions to Bundeena RSL. You can’t get more Australian than that.
We drove into the Royal National Park where an evening mist had wrapped itself around the twisted trunks of the red gums and the fond old coastal forests and scrub I’d discovered as a schoolboy
was fragrant in the cooling air. In the pocket-handkerchief village I met a delegation objecting to a plan for local townhouses – so Australian in their courtesy – and then went to the club where I met a couple of ram-rod straight veterans of Tobruk.
Saturday night in an RSL – classic Australia, and from their plate glass window across Port Hacking I could see the towers of Sydney. This Sutherland bushland and these waters were close to where the adventure of modern Australia had begun in 1788. I found myself – looking to those stately towers of steel and glass – thinking, a modern place, this. And thinking that clean, streamlined modernity becomes us. We are a modern place and I like that.
Even with those visions of French history floating in my head, I thought that this here is my land, and this geography and landscapes and people are where I’m rooted.
Another thought on Australia. Think about the things that Australia has got right – economic, social, political. Everything from opening up its economy and not wasting its good fortune, going for occupational superannuation, the experiment of post-war immigration, the decisions after 1970 to start saving our great natural areas and other things. I think we could say that we have got most things right.
Worth a nod of approval – no complaceny though – before getting back to work.