Australia Day

5 Comments

Firstly, I would like to say to my overseas readers that although this post is directed to local readers, I do hope you will read it and perhaps gain a small appreciation of Australia and its people.

Today, January 26th is Australia Day.  It is the official national day of our country and is the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet which landed at Sydney Cove in 1788.

Aus DayI am not going to indulge in a debate but suffice to say that there is much angst about the relevance of the day.  The selection of the date does not acknowledge the long, proud history of the indigenous people who had lived here for many thousands of years and were displaced by the ‘marauding hordes’.

The occasion is marked by citizenship ceremonies and other official events but for many it is an opportunity to celebrate summer and our outdoor lifestyle rather than any particular allegiance to our nation.

In the light of the extreme weather being endured around the country over the past couple of months perhaps it is time to stop and really think about the words of the iconic poem penned by Dorothea Mackellar.  The second verse is the most well-known and oft quoted but to read and absorb the words of the entire poem really sums up how I feel about my home.  What better day than Australia Day to stop and remind ourselves of what it means to be Australian?

You can listen to the poem being read by the author in this video and the full text of the poem is below.

My Country by Dorothea Mackellar – 1885-1968, written in 1904

The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror –
The wide brown land for me!

A stark white ring-barked forest
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon.
Green tangle of the brushes,
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us,
We see the cattle die –
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady, soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the Rainbow Gold,
For flood and fire and famine,
She pays us back threefold –
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land –
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand –
Though earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.

This is another video titled “Celebration of a Nation” which was released for the Bicentenary in 1988.  It is a 15 minute potted history of the first 200 years of non-indigenous settlement and contains some interesting insights.

I hope you have a wonderful day wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

5 thoughts on “Australia Day

  1. Thank you Fairy this is indeed an uplifting post. I am an Aboriginal Elder and I live on the same land where my ancestors have been for the last 50,000 years. Aboriginal Australians are the oldest living continuous culture in the world. While my family cherish our culture and our connection to this land we do not labour too much over one of the most shameful episodes in Australia’s history. We often laughingly refer to it as ‘Invasion Day’. That lovely poem by Dorothea Mackellar is one that always brings a lump to my throat. We learnt all the verses during our singing lessons at School (I still remember most of them too) and ‘Our Country’ as well as the original National Anthem ‘God Save The Queen’ was always sung to open our weekly School assemblies.

  2. Thank you so much for your insight. I have heard it referred to as ‘Invasion Day’ and understand how it must have felt to your ancestors. Some of my ancestors, although not on the First Fleet, did come to this country under duress. Many others came of their own volition over the next 100 years or more.

    I remember most of the poems and songs learned at school, too.

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