Australia Day – January 26th 2010

Posted on Tue 01/26/2010 by


Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Today is the day Australia celebrates its National Day, Australia Day. All across the Country, in the major cities, and all the way down to small towns, Australians will be attending outdoor functions, concerts, parties, barbecues, and gatherings to observe the day that Australia was first settled by the British in 1788. The indigenous people had already been here for tens of thousands of years, but this day marks the beginning of white settlement, when Arthur Phillip first landed at Sydney Cove and claimed the Continent for the English, having been discovered by Captain James Cook 18 years earlier in 1770. The purpose for that original settlement was mainly as an outpost for British convicts as the jails in England swelled under the strain of mainly poor people convicted and jailed for long terms of imprisonment for the most trivial of misdemeanors. Somewhere was needed for these prisoners to be sent to ease that strain. That First Fleet consisted of 11 small sailing ships carrying nearly 1500 people, well more than half of them convicts. That trip took 8 months.

For some of that early history, I have included links below to a series of posts I made about early Australian history..

There are a number of songs considered iconic that best portray Australia, and last year I posted the Bruce Woodley song ‘I Am Australian’ made famous by The Seekers. For this years Australia Day song I have included another of those iconic Australian songs, this one ‘True Blue’ from John Williamson.

This video was posted to YouTube by davidliamfilms

As I mentioned in an earlier Sunday Music post, Country Music has many different forms, and Australian Country music, although labeled in that genre is distinctly different from the Country Music of the U.S.

This song contains many of the euphemisms that are unique to Australia, and may not be readily understood by some people.

The title itself, ‘True Blue’ can be placed into the same generic meaning as for two other distinct Aussie euphemisms, Dinki Di, and Fair Dinkum. They are mainly used as adjectives to describe someone who is genuine. Another meaning for those three phrases is true. When applied in Australia, the term signifies it as distinctly Australian, be it a person or a thing.

The term smoko is an old military term for a short break taken for a quick smoke. Australian shearers used the term to signify morning tea, a break between breakfast and lunch, and the term has carried over into everyday use here in Australia, hence the words in the song, ‘knocked off for a smoko’, meaning stopped work for a short time for a smoke or cup of tea, and you’ll be back when you’ve finished that.

Later in the song John mentions the line, ‘or will she be right.’ This again is a distinctly Australian term, usually, ‘She’ll be right, mate’, meaning it will all be okay. When accompanied as it is here by the term standing by your mate, it means being with your friend through thick and thin.

The term ‘keep the show on the road’ is also Australian by nature, meaning to keep things going.

John wrote the song first in 1981 when it was a huge Nationwide hit for him. It was reworded at a later date by John, and then also used following the death of Steve Irwin, the famed ‘Croc Hunter’. It has now gone into the realm of a distinctly Australian song.

Australia Day is also a day when National honours are awarded as part of the Australian Honour, The Order Of Australia, which has 4 separate divisions. These honours are awarded to around 600 to 1000 people in total each year on 2 separate occasions, but Australia Day is the larger of those two. It is indeed a rare honour to be the recipient of this Honour, and very few Australians have this special award.

It is also a day when immigrants gather in their thousands to become Australian citizens after fulfilling the criteria to be eligible to take that oath of citizenship.

Today, the Australian of the year is also named. There are 4 categories and this year, the recipients were Australian Of The Year, Professor Patrick McGorry, a mental health expert for his contributions in that field. Senior Australian of the Year was awarded to Maggie Beer, a Cook and restaurateur for her work in that field. Young Australian of the Year was awarded to Trooper Mark Donaldson VC, awrded that highest of all Australian Bravery Awards for a Military action in Afghanistan. The Local hero Award was given to Ronnie Kahn, a food rescuer, and she retrieves food from numerous areas, mostly food from the major supermarket chains, mainly fresh food that is discarded unsold, and while still viable, distributed then to the poor and homeless, and for her work in the field enabling legal issues resulting from that to be effectively sorted out.

So, our National Day, Australia Day, is a major day on Australia’s calendar, one when we all celebrate the fact that we are indeed all True Blue here, distinctly Australian.

Links to the five earlier posts on the early settlement of Australia.

Part 1. Australia (Part One) The Genesis

Part 2. Australia (Part Two) Germ Of An Idea

Part 3. Australia (Part Three) Arrival

Part 4. Australia (Part Four) The Early Years

Part5. Australia (Part Five) Young Men In Boats

Last years Australia Day post. 26th January – Australia Day

Posted in: Australia