Beneath a brilliant blue sky,
With family and mates,
A social day just relaxing,
In the Great Sandy Straits.
Food and fine wine aplenty,
Pleasant music, wafting by;
Sailboats gliding in silence,
Colourful kites flying high.
On this coast waves are crashing,
Unrelenting, rolling in;
Spawned miles out in the depths,
And then white-capped by the wind.
As the Chardonnay takes a hold,
We can reflect on this day;
An annual break from the norm,
Typical Australians at play.
Yet, I fear we take this for granted,
Forget times during flood;
All those out fighting bushfires,
Some in wars spilling blood.
In the countryside, many farmers,
Face drought once again;
Eager eyes scan burnt horizons,
For the first signs of rain.
Our minds rewind back, through time,
Like on a video show;
See a landscape unspoiled,
That only Aborigines know.
Then a tall ship sailed in,
Imperial flag on its mast;
Opening up this strange place,
During 200 odd years, just passed.
Millions of migrants have come,
Freedom has held out its hand;
Having forsaken their homes,
In search of this Great Southern Land.
They came from all over,
Europe and of course Asia too,
To share with locals, this heaven;
Australia belongs to them, me and you!
They toiled in mines and on cane-fields,
Faced prejudiced doors;
Built ‘The Snowy Hydro Electric’,
Fought and died in our wars.
They settled in cities like Sydney,
And out beyond Bourke;
Australia’s a vast land of plenty,
At least for those willing to work.
One may ponder awhile,
Just what attracts people here;
Is it the climate or landscape,
Or ’cause we’ve got the best beer?
Whilst Sydney’s beautiful harbour,
Is by far the best of the world’s,
There is also little doubt,
We have some beaut looking girls.
And there’s that rusty red Outback,
Unique looking creatures;
Millions of acres of bushland,
Miles and miles of beaches.
And it’s a colourful language,
We all use ‘bloody’ a lot;
Whilst ‘yuppies’ say: “Absolutely!”
Even if they own no yacht.
Here, our sport’s a religion,
For both the young and the old;
Red, white and blue is our emblem,
Yet our blood’s green and gold.
We can laugh at ourselves,
Love to thrash the Poms at their game;
Then call them bloody bastards,
If they to us do the same.
Our attitude is ‘lay-back’,
Many things, some can’t comprehend;
Like our abuse of the ‘long lunch’,
And the long lost week-end.
Our welfare system is rorted,
Taxation rip-offs are widespread;
We say: “She’ll be alright mate!”
And ignore it once more instead.
So, at this time every year,
It’s opportune to reflect,
Appreciate all that we have,
What we all too often neglect.
’Cause this jewel we’ve been given,
It’s so precious and rare,
And this beautiful country,
Exists for all here to share.
Yet, it seems some have a feeling,
This place owes them some debt;
Have never stood to be counted,
Or even paid taxes yet.
Negative thoughts are a product,
Of ignorance and greed;
Persons fulfilling no function,
Such wasted space we don’t need.
A Union Jack is symbolic,
It’s really part of our lot;
The First Fleet was from Britain,
Whether we like that or not.
So let’s drink to our flag,
To the Republic or the Queen;
We don’t know where we’re going,
Although we’re proud where we’ve been.
Whatever the outcome, no matter,
I’ve tried to say it in rhyme,
We should salute her all year,
Not just at this special time.
Of all the world’s great countries,
I clearly love her the most,
And so: “Here’s to you, Australia!”
That is my grateful toast!
For readers from outside Australia, this national day of celebration occurs each year on 26th January. It is a day that commemorates the occasion when Governor Arthur Phillip and his party of marines, free settlers, sailors and convicts sailed into Botany Bay in 1788. The party had set out from England eight months before to commence the first settlement of New South Wales.
Some Aboriginal folk however have different attitudes to this date and the celebration of it. On the negative side one can only acknowledge that the British conquest, like all conquests throughout history was cruel. Yet all debates have two sides. One should also acknowledge that the Australian landscape was not unique in its experience of invasion... many races were subjugated by invaders and forced to endure domination and cultural changes and indeed some cultures were entirely obliterated. One can only ponder upon the scenario had 'Terra Australis' continued to have existed culturally as it had prior to 1788, how it and its indigenous inhabitants would have fared post 1941. There was the very real likelihood that a far more cruel and devastating invader would have wrought havoc and likely total annihilation on the inhabitants of this vast, inviting land mass. I will leave the reader to ponder the likely subsequent outcome had that been the case.
♪♪ Australians all let us rejoice, for we are young and free;
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea.
Our land abounds in Nature’s gifts,
Of beauty rich and rare;
In History’s page, let ev’ry stage,
Advance ... Australia ... Fair! …
In joyful strains then let us sing:
Advance ... Australia ... Fair! ♪♪
- Australian National Anthem, by P.D. McCormick.