For those who have ventured beyond the borders of this country, the theme of this poem is self-explanatory! As Australia Day approaches each 26th January, perhaps that is an appropriate time for us all to reflect upon the quality of life we enjoy, or can enjoy with the right mind set. It’s time to give thanks to those who laid the foundations and re-affirm our resolution to ensure that that quality is maintained. For those who hold current angst regarding 1788, perhaps they might consider what an alternative invasion force (Japanese, French, Belgian, Dutch etc) could have (would have) inflicted on this then relatively defenceless nation. Had that alternative occurred, would ‘stone age’, unchanged conditions, have even survived in any form, into this modernising, developing world?
“I used to think [whilst fighting in the French Resistance]
that it didn’t matter if I was killed,
because without freedom there is no point in living!”
- Nancy Wake (heroic Australian Resistance Fighter during WW2).
♪♪ I’ve been to cities ... that never close down,
From New York to Rio ... and old London town;
But no matter how far ... or how wide I roam,
I still call Australia ... home! ♪♪
- Peter Allen from the song I Still Call Australia Home, 1994.
We have mountain ranges and oceans,
A continuous unbroken coast;
Scenic headlands and beaches,
Far superior to most.
There are swamps, deserts and snowfields,
Harbours, cities and farms;
Urban sprawl or rainforests,
With protected primaeval palms.
’Tis a land of the red Outback,
With endless beauty, great rivers;
A place for winners and losers,
Receivers, takers and givers.
And unique creatures inhabit,
Both our landscape and sea;
This once Aboriginal homeland,
’Tis a vast, resource-filled coun-try.
Australian overseas travellers,
Where and whenever they roam,
They all, without exception,
Claim they can’t wait to get home.
So if you were given your pick,
Where would you choose to dwell?
Would you not select heaven?
Do you blame those leaving hell?
And there are millions of people,
Elsewhere on this earth,
Who never had that good fortune,
A freak chance dealt at birth.
So we’d do well to remember,
When we think life is so bad,
Recall available options,
And all the chances we’ve had.
Was it not to enjoy them, today,
All these things that we’ve got;
Young soldiers fill foreign graveyards,
Did they die in vain or for what?
It may suit many people,
To take for granted, just ignore,
Sacrifices made by some others,
Past pioneers, gone before.
Have you never encountered,
Those who’ve not been anywhere,
Made little contribution,
Stay apathetic, don’t care?
Dissatisfied with their own lot,
Often whinge and complain;
Think this country owes them a living,
Something I can’t explain!
Perhaps they’d prefer islands,
With volcanoes or earthquakes;
Life in a ‘Banana Republic’,
Or reside in the United States?
Maybe suffer hatred and terrorists,
Racial disharmony, rampant crime?
Or be abused by neo-Nazis,
In some city, on the Rhine?
Or there’s always old England,
To enjoy, on a cold winter’s day,
Where you once mixed with those cowards,
Of the masked IRA.
And if one dares, one could wander,
Down the streets of Beirut;
In the Middle East they don’t question,
Just car-bomb you or shoot.
Africa beckons the intrepid,
There’s the wild Serengeti,
Though death lurks in the Congo,
From the odd ‘crazy’s’ machete.
Apartheid and squalor, ’tis finished,
We’re advised of these facts;
Yet in Sowetto’s filthy slums,
Try telling that to those Blacks.
Asian countries aren’t tempting,
With extensive starvation;
Express any opinions,
And receive re-education.
Now to swim in the Ganges,
That seems uninviting to me;
Bonfires on the foreshores,
Half-burnt bodies, float out to sea.
Indonesia sounds idyllic,
Burma, or the Philippines;
With religious fanatics,
Or corrupt police state regimes.
And Sicily has the Mafia,
Whilst Italy has a Pope;
Through poverty and religion,
Social control by fear and false hope.
Spain and South America,
Havens for those on the run;
Where the likes of Biggs, Skase and Trimboli,
Escaped to bask in the sun.
Communism, once was widespread,
So it must have had some appeal;
Yet the sharing of wealth,
Proved to be a pretty poor deal.
You say: “Canadians or Swedes,
Are free of these, if you please!”
Well, maybe so, but for six months,
They stay inside and just freeze.
Now you might claim that Scotland,
New Zealand or France have no peer;
Yet it seems strange to me then,
Why so many migrate over here.
So if I haven’t convinced you,
You’ll still want to embark,
On some foreign adventure,
Live in the Balkans, Kabul or Iraq.
I can only conclude then,
You must be blind and can’t see,
’Cause there’s a bloody good reason,
Australia’s called: ... ‘The Lucky Country’.
Dawn at ANZAC Cove (Internet source)