Your GTG’s top 10 tips for a True Blue Australia day
Welcome globetrotters both Aussie and honorary Aussie as we go live earlier than usual this week with some (hopefully) timely advice to counter some of the silliness and fear of all things ‘un-Australian’ that annually overtakes our Island nation and ex-pat communities on January 26th.
First a brief history of the day itself to set the scene. According the fair dinkum site australiaday.org.au “The tradition of having Australia Day as a national holiday on 26 January is a recent one. Not until 1935 did all the Australian states and territories use that name to mark that date. Not until 1994 did they begin to celebrate Australia Day consistently as a public holiday on that date”. Your GTG was as surprised as most Aussies would be to find that out.
What are we celebrating?- This seems to be the question that has a different answer every time it is asked and naturally for most Indigenous Australians as custodians of the land since creation/the dreamtime (roughly 50-100 000 yrs Scientifically speaking) the day becomes about survival over celebration. From a quick google scan which seems to fit what we were taught in school, ” it marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, and raising of the Flag of Great Britain at that site by GovernorArthur Phillip. In contemporary Australia, celebrations reflect the diverse society and landscape of the nation, and are marked by community and family events, reflections on Australian history, official community awards, and citizenship ceremonies welcoming new immigrants into the Australian community. So without further ado, here is our top 10 handy hints.
- Do slip/slop/slap
Jan 26th falls in the middle of Australia’s sweltering summer. Slip/slop/slap is the idea of a multi-pronged approach to sun protection. Literally the phrase means slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat. In recent times slide on some shades has been added to the mix and keeping hydrated is never a bad idea since a dose of sunstroke/heatstroke can really bring your day down.
- Do something active- but not too active
Australia day on it’s best behaviour is about approaching life with energy that has a laid back tone to it, probably something to do with the heat. Common examples include backyard or beach cricket games, some kind of water activities or any casual group ball games.
While this idea comes with a severe hipster alert these days, the hottest 100 is a great way to encourage the musical arts and can be a breakthrough for unknown artists. Besides, with 100 songs that’s a fair chunk of a day’s entertainment giving you the chance to tune in and tune out at your leisure.
- Learn about the Australian of the year
For those of us that look for a little more meaning than a few well known rock-anthems and temporary tattoos, the Australian of the year ceremony gives the chance for us to formally recognise some community members for their outstanding contributions. It’s also a great chance to learn about advances that are being made in areas from science to social issues. This year’s recipient is a community campaigner against domestic violence.
As hinted before, white people are kind of a new thing in Australia, which is why it seems outright dismissive that Indigenous culture doesn’t feature in the day for the majority of Australians. The first Australians sometimes call the day survival or invasion day, and the best way we can pay homage as Australians may just be to consider that somehow as we go about our day. For those that know how a little shake a leg could be right on cue.
- Avoid displays of obnoxious, narrowly-defined patriotism
To spoil the fun for everyone a number of Australians , noteably those from an Ango-Celtic background seem to think the term ‘Australian’ applies only to them, much to the surprise of the first people and even more recent arrivals. You can imagine the faux pas as these people dictate a narrow set of ‘Australian’ values that funnily enough exactly resemble their own. I’m all for flags but a certain style of wearing them becomes kinda an aggressive message and is usually a sign that you missed the first few tips mentioned here.
- Have a BBQ
Those of you who are gluten free, vegetarian, lactose intolerant, vegan pretty much anything other than on a raw food diet can find something to throw on the hotplate. In fact, that is one of the beauties of the modern Australian BBQ, the amount of different things people will think of. Of course a large portion will be beef sausages cooked in the Australian way, down to a crisp…
- Catch some fireworks
Even though it’s not legal most places here to set off your own, fireworks are a nice way to get in the mood for the upcoming Chinese new year and reflect on the values that are important to you, plus they look cool.
People from all perspectives including yours truly often tend to get carried away and let rip with the odd slur or a swing of the arm or just general party-pooping behaviour. Whether it’s celebrating survival or all the things you love about Australia, if you are celebrating, do it with respect, and that of course including respecting people’s right not to celebrate for whatever reason.
- Learn the words
Australians are infamous for their love of tried and tested pub rock anthems. Having said that, they’re not so well known for knowing all the lyrics… This is a golden opportunity for visitors or newer Australians to completely get amongst the debacle should they be so inclined.
Well once again we reach the bottom of a top 10 but what fun we’ve had. Stay tuned for other national holidays to feature in upcoming GTG editions. For more handy Australia day hints check the link below. Untill next week.