Australia Day, as divisive as ever

posted in: Life and things | 2
The symbol of Australia, a flying kangaroo. Photo by Sabel from Pexels.

Australia Day (26th January) has been and gone, with the usual nonsense that has surrounded that date over the last several years. It’s the day in 1788 when Captain/Governor Phillip established the first British settlement at what would become Sydney. There were ‘invasion day’ gatherings in some cities, supporting the notion that was the day when Australia was invaded by the British. Elsewhere, some people with clearly no knowledge of Australian history daubed a statue of the great explorer Captain Cook, who charted Australia’s east coast in 1770, with red paint.

It would be nice if the activists recognized that we all live in the same country and that we can’t change history. Nobody is denying that indigenous people were appallingly treated in the past but that doesn’t mean the current generation needs to apologise, any more than this generation of Germans needs to apologise for Nazi atrocities. It’s time to learn and move on. I have no problem with moving the date to something everyone will find acceptable. But agreeing on a date will not be easy. As I said back in 2018,

“The REAL Australia Day, when the Commonwealth of Australia was created by uniting the Australian states into a federation, happened on 1st January, 1901. It’s the equivalent, more or less, of the American 4th July. But I think we’d all concede that January 1st is a bit busy already, what with fireworks and such.

What other date might be suitable for Australians to jointly celebrate their nation? Um… how about the date when Australians were no longer counted as British citizens? That was… oh… 26th January 1949. I guess the problem is that unlike the French, the Americans, and the Russians, we didn’t have a rip-roaring revolution to celebrate our nationhood.”

Then again, why not just pick a date that fits the school curriculum as has been done with the Queen’s birthday? None of the states celebrate her actual, you know, BIRTH date (21st April). This year, most states have decided on 13th June, but in Queensland it’s 3rd October, and in Western Australia it’s 26th September. So, we could decide on something like the Monday closest to the 7th April. Why not? (It’s my Mum’s birthday, so it means something to me.)

Here’s a little puzzle for you. I’ll list a set of ingredients and you can mull over what you think this recipe would produce. Ready?

Water, tomato paste, vegan Worcestershire sauce (cider vinegar, molasses, lime juice, tamarind paste, sea salt, ground cloves, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground mustard, granulated garlic), balsamic vinegar, distilled vinegar, grated horseradish roots, lime juice, prepared horseradish, molasses, celery salt, sea salt, granulated garlic, black pepper, ground mustard, dill, ground jalapeno pepper.

I’ll give you the answer later.

Although I talk about books and writing in my newsletter, I’ve been reading a book which I think may interest many of you that only read my blog. It’s called Dear Fran, love Dulcie and it’s a series of letters written by Fran, a pineapple farmer’s wife in country Queensland, to her American pen pal, Dulcie. Here’s the blurb.

“Imagine a true story that unfolds in the harshness of Australia’s outback, beginning in 1957 and spanning decades. Imagine Dulcie’s battle to keep her family and animals alive in spite of bushfires, floods, cyclones, droughts, dingo attacks and terrible accidents.

The story of Dulcie, a simple Queensland pineapple farmer’s wife, has so many twists and turns that it will leave you gasping.”

The letters, which would have been written in running writing, are about a page long. They take the reader back to another time when the work was hard, the roads were rough, and drought, floods, and fire were all part of the cycle of the seasons. The simple stories Dulcie wrote to her American friend are sometimes shocking, sometimes awe-inspiring. One of my favourites is where Dulcie explains that when her baby was due, her water broke at home. Her husband was out somewhere working the land and she decided she couldn’t wait for him. She jumped in her car and drove herself over the rough bush tracks to the hospital, slowing down occasionally when the labour pains became too much.

It’s a great read, conjuring up images of the not-too-distant past. I know some of my blog-readers will be nodding as they read her words. And, of course, it’s a genuine piece of firsthand history, an original source.

The letters were curated by Victoria Twead, who has written a number of best-selling memoirs. The book is available in print as well as digital and you can find links to retailers here. Each book purchased will help support Careflight, an Australian aero-medical charity that attends emergencies, however remote.

What else has happened in the world? Well,

  • Turkey has decided to call itself Türkiye.
  • Boris Johnson clings to power in the UK, nobody’s quite sure how. Or why.
  • Russia and Ukraine are on the brink of war.

Turkey can call itself whatever it wants. But I rather doubt that an umlaut (the two dots above the u) will be added to our keyboards any time soon, so Mr Erdogan will have to settle for Turkiye. (Yes, I know that the symbol function in Word will enable us to find ü, and indeed, ğ in Mr Erdoğan’s name. But it’s a bit fiddly.)

Boris Johnson has proved to be a huge disappointment to those of us who thought he might make a good PM. But then, what would we know? We thought Malcolm Turnbull would be a good PM here and see how that turned out.

I fervently hope that Mister Putin is not seriously thinking he can annex Ukraine by force without consequences. However, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the story that XI Jinping asked him not to invade until after the Winter Olympics is true. Pete and I wish all the athletes at the Winter Olympics well, but we won’t be watching it at our house. And when it’s over, we might just see Xi invade Taiwan while Putin invades Ukraine (and a few of the Baltic states on the way).

Major wars pop up in human history regularly. I fear the clock is ticking.

And now for the answer to the recipe I posted above. Pete and I rather enjoy a bloody Mary from time to time. You know the one – vodka, tomato juice, a slurp of Worcestershire sauce, a few drops of tabasco and maybe a bit of lime. But not every store has tomato juice. We came upon this stuff (see picture) in Aldi recently and picked up a bottle since it’s a base for a bloody Mary. Just add vodka, right?

I wish to announce that it is (in my opinion) truly horrible. I managed no more than a couple of sips.

We have bought some tomato juice from Coles.

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2 Responses

  1. Laurie A. Green

    You said: “Pete and I wish all the athletes at the Winter Olympics well, but we won’t be watching it at our house.” We’ve made the same decision here. I feel bad for the athletes who have trained so hard for their moment in the sun, and I hope they have a great — and safe — Olympic experience in spite of everything.

    The memoir sounds incredibly interesting. I may go look it up.

    • Greta

      I don’t want to give Xi and the CCP any more publicity than it already gets – but like you, I feel for the athletes. If not for them I would have been all for boycotting the games. Do check out the book. I’m sure you’ll find it fascinating.

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