I'm a little uncomfortable about leaping head-first into Australia Day celebrations because ....let's face it'.....it not only marks the day the whities landed on solid ground but also the day that the black fellas had their sacred ground invaded. Life only got better and better for those early colonists, while our Aboriginal hosts have seen a serious deterioration of quality of life. It might be more culturally sensitive to move Australia Day to the second Monday in March which commemorates Commonwealth Day and then at some time in the not too distant future we might be able to have our own Independence Day after becoming a republic.
Most of us in this country came from somewhere else. We all started out as boat people. Australia is a nation of tourists who put down their bags and decided to stay. And why wouldn't you want to? It's a pretty fantastic place. Best beaches in the world. The Barrier Reef. Great waterways and sweeping, majestic deserts. Sunsets of fire. A climate that feels like your favourite, most comfortable jacket.
We are a laid back, relaxed and peaceful mob. Perhaps a little too apathetic sometimes but that's better than being a nation of hot-headed, aggro, gun-toting maniacs. We drink too much beer and eat too many pies. None of us gives much of a damn about politics. Our leader is a feisty red-head. We came up with "Neighbours' and gave the world Kylie Minogue, INXS and Mel Gibson. We have more deadly creatures than Africa and some really weird critters such as the platypus. We're either flooding or on fire.
But it has to be one of the best countries to be born in these days and I'm grateful for that. My children have a good life in the land of OZ. Good public schools, Medicare which provides free health services,. Did I mention the beaches?? Bondi. Bronte and Byron Bay. Sydney is a sexy city. Tasmania has some incredible forests. Kakadu National Park is like visiting another planet.
Improvements to my mind would be - a new flag, a farewell to the royal family (although I do have a thing for Prince Harry), more compassion toward the refugees arriving in boats, more tolerance and support for the most disadvantaged members of society (although our welfare system does beat the pants off most other Western nations). We should embrace gay marriage and stamp out the racism and sexism that is still way too prevalent.
Today...I shall crack open a beer and eat a Skippy the bush kangaroo burger. Nobody really puts shrimps on a barbie...we don't even know what shrimps are....here we call them prawns.
I'll put some Cold Chisel on the music box and enjoy the sound of heavy rain in the background.
I'll raise a toast to some super Aussies who have moved on - Steve Irwin, Bob Barrett, Victor Chang, Slim Dusty, Michael Hutchence, Barnum Barnum, Peter Allen, Bryce Courtney and 2/3 of The BeeGees.
Safe Australia Day but remember it was also Invasion Day....