It’s Australia Day – so enjoy, relax
During Australia Day the average Aussie will wake up singing the national anthem, unfurl the flag, reach into the wardrobe for the garish costume featuring the national colours and prepare to march, dance and sing amid a glorious nationalistic fanfare. Or perhaps not! In fact, we suspect many Australians will casually acknowledge the occasion and perhaps even attend a civic ceremony to pat high achievers on the back, welcome migrants into our bosom or give a child a little plastic flag to wave.
For others it might simply be a chance to enjoy a summer public holiday – an opportunity to gather with friends and family for a stress-free barbecue, dinner or party.
For me, the laconic way many of us recognise Australia Day reflects one of the fundamental differences between Americans and us.
Overt patriotism, simply for patriotism’s sake, doesn’t sit well with many of us, yet it doesn’t mean we aren’t patriotic or don’t have a love for our country and culture.
We will fight and barrack as hard as anyone, perhaps even harder when appropriate and there might even be some who, in a rare moment, decide to upset their mum by getting a Southern Cross tattoo.
Australia Day is worth celebrating. We’d like to think we have a great country and like any great country we’ve had to and continue to deal with issues of justice, right and wrong, growth and development, security and critically, identity.
We are an evolving human mishmash where the good and bad that have happened in the past shape the sensibilities of today.
While national culture and how we want it to move forward will always be subject of analysis, we look forward to the day when the issue of someone’s race is banished to the irrelevance bin.
Regardless of the arguments, it doesn’t really matter on what date we celebrate Australia Day, as long as we have one, preferably in summer when we can best exploit what’s great about being Australian.
Was Australia invaded? Yes, possibly several times over thousands let alone hundreds of years depending on your understanding of the word.
The English arrival certainly wasn’t like the Normans storming a British beach – perhaps more like finding somewhere to use as a dumping ground for perceived human trash.
In truth, it might be that we have such a laid-back attitude to national pride because, perhaps subconsciously, we know how good we have it when compared with many other countries around the globe.
It might well be that the more casual we are about nationalism, the more comfortable we feel about our lot.
It is good to be Australian and by having a right to high levels of freedom and opportunity by simply being born or naturalised in this country is something we celebrate, in many cases without being aware of it, every day.
• Grampians, Wimmera and Mallee communities will come together across the region to celebrate Australia Day.
Councils and other organisations have arranged a wide range of events across the region’s municipalities.
For a list of some of the festivities on offer, see page 16.