Australia Day, Austraya Day, Orstralia Day, Os-tralia Day
January 26 — Australia Day, or Austraya Day (cricket commentator’s English), or Orstralia Day (the Queen’s English) or our PM’s rendering: Os-tralia Day, depending on one’s upbringing and education — the day we Aussies rejoice in our beautiful country.
This is the day Aussie people stick Australian flags on their cars and parade around proudly and patriotically. I think today and ANZAC Day are the only days Aussies in Australia and abroad openly display their patriotism, although it is always there, lying hidden deep in the recesses of our psyche.
Every Australian who knows it, for sadly many of our young do not, would say a very loud ‘Amen and amen’ to the sentiments in one of Australia’s most iconic poems ‘My Country’ penned by one of our illustrious poets, Dorothea Mackellar. Following is a bit of a break-down of ‘Core of my Heart’ later renamed ‘My Country’.
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.
Here are images of the mother country, England, and the nostalgic remembrances that many early pioneers, and yes, convicts, would have had for their homeland. But the last two lines show that the poet’s allegiance is elsewhere. The passion she feels for Australia is evoked through the strong imagery in the following stanzas.
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!
—– —– —–
The stark white ringbarked forests / All tragic ‘neath the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains / The hot gold rush of noon —
Green tangle of the brushes / Where lithe lianas coil
And orchid-laden tree-ferns / Smother the crimson soil.
—– —– —–
Core of my heart, my country — / Her pitiless blue sky,
When sick at heart, around us / We see the cattle die…
And 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, / Young Land of Rainbow Gold —
For flood and fire and famine / She pays us back three-fold…
Over the thirsty paddocks / Watch, after many days
The filmy veil of greenness / That thickens as you gaze…
—– —– —–
An opal-hearted country, / A wilful, lavish land —
Ah, you who have not loved her / You cannot understand…
…The world is fair and splendid / But whensoe’er I die
I know to what brown country / My homing thoughts will fly!
Australia is a land of so many contrasts and colours: the red earth of the north west pulsating under the mirages and the unrelenting sun; the cool greens of the rainforest in the north of Australia; the aquamarine blues and greens of the sea truly sparkle like jewels – an ‘opal-hearted country’ indeed.
Flood, fire and famine have been a curse to many in our wilful land, but she comes through in the end, bringing blessings aplenty in the cycles of life here. And it’s through these trying times that the Aussie community shines and through the good times that we enjoy our lives together.
We are known as the ‘lucky’ country. We are, more importantly, a country blessed by God. We have such a rich indigenous heritage, along with the heritage of the early European settlers and convicts. Lately we have added to the mix, the traditions of peoples from other countries, whether Asian, African or Middle Eastern.
Read my boy Dan’s blog I heart Australia about his love for his native land. He expresses it beautifully. And read Judo’s blog Australia day with the family to see the sort of thing Aussie families do on Australia Day.
I know one thing for sure – when I am in a foreign land, I get terribly home-sick for my country and my people. There is no place like it in the whole wide world.