On the 26th January every year, so the theory goes, Australians across the world – over 22 million of us these days – reflect on our amazing achievements as a country, celebrate them, and get excited about the future ahead.
What actually happens is the nation gets a public holiday, which we use as an excuse to have a barbie, play wheel of goon, and listen to Triple J’s Hottest 100. If we’re feeling really adventurous, we will go and marvel at the local fireworks display, and the many sports-minded folk will consume copious amounts of beer while watching the cricket test. If the only things you understood about that those two sentences were ‘public holiday’, ‘fireworks’ and ‘beer’, then you’re probably not going to be celebrating Australia Day.
Over on the other side of the world in Europe, there are a few less Aussies, no fireworks, and it’s the middle of winter which isn’t exactly conducive to having a barbie or playing wheel of goon (that and the lack of hills hoists).
Here’s how the three of us are spending our national day:
I’ll be taking two Englishmen, a Scottish lass, an Irish girl, a French couple and one other token Aussie and whipping up the closest thing to a barbie I can muster – sausages sandwiches. We’re talking one piece of flimsy white bread, sausage laid diagonally across it, with sauce leaking through.
We’ll drink whatever Australian wine I can find at the supermarket on my way home from work, celebrate with some Aussie treats procured form a friend’s recent trip home, and probably play some Dance Central on the Xbox. I’ll complain about having to make do with Fosters, then reiterate why crisps are really chips and chips are really hot chips, before sending everyone home suitably intoxicated and full of love for God’s Country.
With Australia Day falling on a Thursday, I have ingenuously taken the Friday off work for a 4-day mega long weekend. Who said I wasn’t a thinker?
I will spend a relaxing day with friends diving off Stradbroke Island, 50km east of Brisbane, hoping to see some manta rays, sharks and turtles. And it just wouldn’t be a proper Australia Day without a post-dive barbie, downing some refreshing cold lagers (in case you were wondering, we don’t drink Foster’s in Australia!), tuning into Triple J’s hottest 100 songs of 2011, and celebrating the fact that I won’t be back in the office for another three days!
This year Aussie Day will have a strong Froggy flavour replete with activities such as playing French Roulette with the Parisian traffic (far more dangerous than its Russian counterpart, this version is played in cars on the wrong side of the road for us Aussies) and speaking French to whoever will listen. In the evening I’ll fill my yearly quota of one visit to an Australian-themed bar, dragging my friends along to always-classy Café Oz…
There, surrounded by almost-sober Aussies and Frenchies alike, I will raise a glass to the “lucky country”, the land that has given me so much opportunity… and hopefully prove to my French friends once and for all that they don’t have the monopoly on throwing a stylish and elegant party!
Regardless of what we do or don’t do to celebrate, you can bet on one thing – we are proud to be Australian, no matter where we are in the world.
So have a beer today and think of Oz – wherever you are. Cheers!