‘Straya Day

Australia Day. It creeps up. Just back at work, just over the New Years’ Eve fireworks and bam, 26 January, public holiday. 
My massage therapist asked me what I was doing for Australia Day. I asked him, “What do people DO for Australia Day?” “BBQs and the Triple J Top 100”. And then I managed to get myself invited to an Australia Day bbq where they played the Triple J 100, had a BBQ AND had the Australian Open tennis on mute on the telly. Living the dream. Yip. Golden country.

To be honest, at this particular ‘Straya Day event, there were quite a few New Zealanders and once we had got the discussions about ANZAC biscuits, chocolate weetbix slice and whether or not Pavlova was ours, we discussed the controversial nature of our own New Zealand Day, Waitangi Day, and there was some talk about the fact that Australia Day is not nearly as confrontational and controversial as our own 6 February. And yet, this year saw a marked change. News footage showed a scared looking Julia Gillard being bundled into her car by her bodyguard amidst fairly confrontational protesters. Names such as Invasion Day and Survival Day underline the disgruntled feeling that for some Australians, particularly indigenous Australians, Australia Day has become symbolic of the adverse effects of British settlement on Australia’s Indigenous people.

For my part, I agree that this is a serious issue and one that needs to be addressed. I am grateful to the Australians who welcomed me to their bbq, didn’t mock my accent, but instead showed me a harmonious coming together of antipodean unity. Kia ora bros.

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