Today marks the anniversary of the Brits arriving in the far land down under, looking around, disregarding the local population, declaring the red desert and the blue ocean ‘unoccupied’ and announcing in their classic imperialist, colonial manor, that the grand island is now ‘civilised’.
In celebration we drink tinnies, wear too much blue, red and white, get really sunburnt and generally announce to anyone that will listen how “bloody good it is to be from Straya”.
Listen to a countdown on the radio of the best one hundred songs of the previous year, a democratic countdown that Australians care more about that the actual democracy.
To be fair, Australia is pretty good.
It’s the country where short shorts and thongs (flip flops, yeah don’t ask) is the standard attire of the Aussie bloke, religion entails saturdays down at the local footy club eating hotdogs, snags on the barbie for lunch and kanga bangers for dinner. All accompanied by a good cold beer.
Beer the national resolution to any problem.
It’s the country that even though we speak english, somehow people from other english speaking countries cannot understand us. Words like ‘arvo’ for the time after lunch, “tomozz” for the time after today, “woop whoop” an actual destination, and tag lines like “a ute without a dog is like a shag without a sheila” (sheila being the derogatory term for a woman as well as an actual women’s name).
The only place where being called a c**t is a compliment and everyone’s name can be made shorter with a casual ‘zz’ in the middle or an ‘o’ chucked on the end – Jezza, Dazza, Wazza (Jeremy, Darren, Warren) or Damo, Jamo, Benno (Damien, Jamie, Ben).
If in doubt just call everyone mate.
There’s No mucking around in Straya. We say it how it is. Or as we like to say “calling a spade a spade”.
It is also a little bit the land of milk and honey. I’m not going to lie. The minimum wage practically double that of most countries in the world, our police incorrupt, our women able to wear whatever they want, swear whenever they want and still be considered a lady.
We have passports that can get us pretty much anywhere, and cash dollars to let us. Australians are always the loudest in bars, the crudest in restaurants and always the kind of people that will by your side on your far fetched adventure.
We can take the shit about our nation of criminals. Can take shit about our sports obsession. Take shit about being backward or removed from the world. Because actually we are secretly smug because we know, that we are actually so goddamn fortunate.
The thing is, that this did not come without sacrifice. The people that lived on this sacred land for more than fifty thousand years before have lost almost everything in less than two hundred and fifty years.
Destruction of culture, brutal slaughter of people, tearing apart of families for the recreation of a place formerly oh so different. Today marks the day it all began. Today is the day we celebrate what is now regarded Australian. It seems pretty fucking messed up if you ask me.
This is an inherited legacy. As the white population of Australia, boldly complaining about the tiny population of asylum seekers that join us out here each year, feeling the threat of the ‘other’, we must consider who it is that actually owns this land. Who it is that shares it with us. And who it is that had so much taken.
So I ask you today, as you swig the goon sacks we so proudly invented from the spinning washing line, spare a thought for how it is that your life of luxury came about.
It may not be our generation that did the damage, but it is our generation who carries it. It is our generation who must bare the responsibilities of our forefathers. It is our generation who must acknowledge the dark past, to recognise that our history didn’t begin in 1778. It began much before that. It was merely changed drastically on that pivotal day.
Today, I think, should be a sombre day. A day of mourning for the people who were massacred in such cruel brutality, the children taken and the proud human beings enslaved and classed as “fauna”.
But, today is the official day of celebration, so, make sure you don’t forget. Don’t forget what it was that happened on this day. Don’t forget what this country is built on. Think carefully about what it is that we are celebrating.