What Australia Day means to me

Candy Holding the Australian Flag - image from Sydney Zoo

Candy Holding the Australian Flag – image from WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo

“I am compelled into this country.” 
~ Patrick White, Voss

“If you would know this country, you must know its stories.” 
~ Billy Marshall Stoneking

Australia Day for me has always been a celebration of what makes me feel Australian. It’s a combination of landscape, energy, history and connection with those souls who have walked this land before me. And a gratitude for having been born under these wide open skies, with space and freedom as my birthright.

As a child, on many an Australia Day long weekend, my dad would take us to his best friend’s house. Sometimes we’d even join their family and visit some of their relatives in the country. Evan, Dad’s mate, was a school teacher with an abiding love of the bush, and a strong social conscience. Looking back, these were formative times for me.

There was always a tribe of kids running round like lunatics, adults drinking beers and tossing steaks and snags (sausages) on a barbecue, lamingtons, fruit salad and pavlova, a game of cricket, and as the afternoon wore on, a recital of poetry and short stories from the likes of Henry Lawson, Banjo Patterson, Judith Wright, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, Adam Lindsay Gordon and Henry Kendall.

At night, while the other kids would bunk down telling ghost stories or watching a video, I would quietly sneak in to where the adults were sitting. Thereafter would follow more poetry, philosophy and perhaps some Australian History. Evan would regale us with tales of convict life, early settlement, the waves of immigrants, wars in which we’d fought, and of that time before Australia was colonised. He’d talk about the great Bunya Nut feasts, and of the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders Evan had taught, and what they had taught him.

I would drink in these stories until my soul was full to bursting.

Inside me a tiny flame was sparked and fanned. My fascination with my country and its collective history was born from these gatherings.

This is my Australia. A land of poets and artists. A land of plenty and of hardship. A land of ancient wisdoms and new beginnings. A place of fantastic landscape, and a rich diversity of flora and fauna.

This is my Country:

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NicoleCrab

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Regrowth after the 1976 Divide fire; Don Despain; July 1977

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hand stencils

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Bert in ute

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“And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wond’rous glory of the everlasting stars.” 
― A.B. Paterson, Clancy Of The Overflow

13 thoughts on “What Australia Day means to me

  1. Nicole, what fabulous memories from your childhood. I can feel what being Australian means to you from your blog and the great photos you’ve shared. Happy Australia Day.

  2. That was a wonderful journey. A reminder of all we have to be grateful for. It’s also my Mothers Birthday! She was so proud to have been born on Australia Day! I have many memories of birthday celebrations as well as the gatherings for cricket games and the cake in the shape of Australia surrounded in blue tinted dedicated coconut for the sea! I always miss my Mother! Especially to day! Love to you Nicole for sharing always when it would be easier to just lay in Bed. Love x

  3. love it, so similar to my sense of being australian! for me it’s the spirit of the land and her people, the ancient wisdom and her beautiful aboriginal custodians and then all the amazing people who have been guided from other places to live here – when we come to a place of love, unity and connection we will indeed be a powerful people! hugs for you today, i know this road is tough, so sending wishes for lots of gentle and tender moments for you! sx

  4. Pingback: Australia Day, 2015 | Cauldrons and Cupcakes

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