26th January each and every year, Australian people celebrate Australia Day. To many that means merely a Public Holiday, time off instead of working and paid at that!!! This year that is a Wednesday – a day to not work smack in the middle of a work week. It is also mid summer. The sky is blue, the humidity and the heat is up ( over 40 celsius/ over 100 fahrenheit) and therefore pools and beaches call loudly. Scores of people have answered that call – hope they remembered sunscreen!
What makes an Australian? How are we different from other peoples?
Recently Oprah spent a week downunder with 302 of her closest friends and viewers and did a series of four tv specials based around her experiences while here. She asked several high profile Aussie Actors with names and faces world recognised ( Nicole Kidman & Keith Urban, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman) what made Aussies different to Americans. The concensus was that Aussies work to live, while Americans live to work. In other words it seems we have more of a handle on work life balance. And I must admit, the weather and the vast expanses, the sporting and outdoor leisure opportunities along with the weather that makes being outside a blessing and a pleasure conspire with the fact we are so far away from the rest of the world and have developed in isolation has helped us to enshrine and develop our our peculiar values.
Active, fun loving, inquisite, passionate people. Largely. That’s us. With a huge chunk of social democratic responsibility – and gratitude we were born here, and with the opportunities we have as a result.
Not bad, really, considering European habitation started with the Brits piling extras from their overcrowded prisons into wooden sailing ships and launching them to populate a country half a world away.
The Aboriginal peoples were here, but at that time not really recognised as valued peoples. In fact between civilisation and nationhood, the aboriginal people only got the vote in the late 1960’s.
I could talk of Gallipolli when the British military machine used Anzacs (Aussie and New Zealand soldiers) as sacrifices in Turkey. And these troops surprised them with their tenacity.
So there is a sense of honour as well, of mateship and helping when it is right ( the response to the Queensland floods recently underscore how much a part this is of our identity as Aussies…).
Don’t ever underestimate our dry and irreverent sense of humour either. I can’t help but think about Chasers and their War on Everything and their APEC stunt.
What else are we known for? Lamingtons, Vegemite, Elle MacPherson & Jennifer Hawkins. Pavlova. Cheek. Loyalty.