Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Australia Day 26th January

I'm not alone in believing that we live in an amazing place!! Australia's natural environment, the cities, east and west, the laidback approach etc etc.
Whenever I travel I am struck by how much lower the sky feels and generally how much thicker and more grey. I travel to NZ for the first time later this year [did I mention I'm going to the Rugby World Cup Final!!] and so I look fwd to the delights of Auckland and beyond...
I am struck by the radio debate today about: who we are? whether Parky should be doing our NSW Aussie Day address; and whether it's rehash of Clive James or an contemporary view we need to hear.
There's echoes of: our jingoism; Cronulla beach riots; the "F&^%$ off, we're full" racist stickers/shirts; and the chain store adoption of popular flag surfwear or undies.
There are also average boomers, families and the WW2 generations wondering what all the fuss is about...
All this alongside the debate about whether we should move the day away from a commemoration of the European invasion of the great southland and the beginning of the destruction of precious indigenous culture which despite our 'sorry' we are yet to truly deal with....
Anyhow, heavy stuff ahead of a day we celebrate and appreciate all things Aussie!! I used to enjoy 'Survival Day' concerts at La Perouse [koori revenge making us sit in 36 degrees on a treeless oval listening to great music] ... I used to wonder how it felt for Yothu Yindi, Paul Kelly and Christine Anu to drive across town and include a Darling Harbour appearance in their day? I felt especially motivated having chosen the 'Survival March' in 1988 and sat in the Park listening to many indigenous and anglo speakers lay out a vision for what could be and is still possible...
Anyhow, reflective 'toss' or otherwise I have penned a poem for the day [part procrastination from a household reno and part response to the radio chat, the boardies and the flag adorned cars everywhere]!! It might be a little familiar... and comes ahead of my obligatory youtube song of choice for this year...

My Country
The love of field and pruning
Of green tree shaded lanes
Of pommie woods and gardens
Is the backpackers domain
Putting up with grey-blue distance
Brown streams and that low sky
Is nice to sometimes visit
But we could pass it by

I love a sunburnt country
Across the great western plains
Of bushwalkers mountain ranges
Of droughts and flooding rains
I love our far horizons
I love the Bar Beach sea
The beauty and the terror
The wide brown land for me

A stark white ring-barked forest
The loggers lop in tune
The sapphire misted mountains
The midday sun breaks through
Annoying spikey shrubs
Lantana and pesky weeds
A bunch of 40 dollar natives
A protea is all you need

Core of our soul, our country
The levelling blue sky
One minute cattle are dying
But then the grey clouds gather
And we can dance again
That sound on tin roofs clapping
The steady soaking rain

Core of their soul, their country
Land of the Rainbow snake
For flood and fire and famine
The dreaming stories make
Sand through the hand is poured
Lingiari was his name
The greenness will return
When they the land can claim

An opal hearted country
A willful, lavish land
We celebrate Australia
With coasters and board shorts
The flag we hold in hand
Brawls, beer and Hot 100
Disrupt our reflective or family time
We revel in the ANZAC
And sadly 'turn the boats around'

Rob Hanks [adapted from the poem by Dorothea Mackellar]

And the lyrics for 'My Country' Midnight Oil can be explored here
If I wasn't there this night I was at one just like it and can still recall that feeling!!

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