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Australia Day: Two Cheers for Australia

January 26, 2011

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.

  1. lindy Stacker permalink
    January 26, 2011 12:05 pm

    Dear Bob, Interesting to read your comments re Aust Day BUT if I see one more Aussie flag I’ll just puke. When I grew up in the 60’s Australia wasn’t near this Nationalistic and it frightens me. Damn John Howard he is largely responsible for generating this level of fear and insecurity amongst the masses. Australians are pretty easy to fool. However as a wildlife carer I wanted to say that it is all well and good to protect our dwindling wild places (that I also fought for as I have been active in the environment movement for 35 yrs and you’d have to be mad as a nation NOT to do this) BUT there won’t be any wildlife left in our shrinking wild places. The number of rescues we (Syd Wildlife) do each year is escalating beyond our resources both economically and physically and dare I say mentally. People talk a lot about our wildlife and make lots of money from them but know little about them and don’t appreciate or value them…………not when push comes to shove. Most Australians are ecologically ignorant and I don’t think MOST care to change their lack of knowledge which would surely increase their tolerance levels when it comes to ‘living’ with wildlife. Aside from this apathy, ignorance and intolerance (yes some people are enlightened and sensitive to the needs of wildlife but not most) there is the added SHAME to our nation’s pride by allowing the commercialisation of our amazing and precious wildlife. How dare the politicians and commercially driven self interested DECIDE on our behalf what wildlife lives and dies? Those that get to live are granted such leniency because they don’t have a market value ie they are too few or too small. There is no need to be commercialising our long suffering and maligned wild creatures,,,,,,,,,,,,,all the sad products derived from such misery are luxury items which brings even further shame on this greedy and often cruel nation. Are we beyond redemption in the 21st Century? Our wonderful and unique fauna deserves much better from us and when I look into the eyes of a brushtail possum or a baby ringie I am slightly relieved that they are not aware of how we are treating their families. I feel so privileged and humbled to be able to spend my life caring for our precious wildlife who have come to grief ( 99% of the time) because of our very wicked ways. Truth is we are not learning from our mistakes and you didn’t mention that in your blog. Until Australia and Australians fess up to the truth and start valuing our under siege wildlife I FOR ONE WILL NOT BE CELEBRATING AUSTRALIA TODAY. Our most incredible and unique assest/s is our wildlife and the wild places that are diminishing fast and yet where do I hear this mentioned on Australia Day? Maybe we should call it Corporate Australia Day, that would be closer to the truth.

    Happy Invasion Day Bob


  2. lindsay allen permalink
    February 5, 2011 5:42 pm

    Two feiends became Aussies on Australia Day in Goulburn. It was a proud moment. Australia Day has become another sales season. It has been reduced to another season where Australians expected show their pride by shopping. Another silly season. For me Australia Day is about the land. No matter where people come from, they will change. It is the land that shapes us and makes us Australians.

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