“Australians all let us rejoice — for we are young and free…”
By Tim Martin
NO doubt at some stage on Thursday, 26 January, you will find yourself arm in arm with some fellow countrymen belting out the words to our national anthem. That is the beauty of Australia Day. No matter who you are, what race, religion, sex, colour or creed — on Australia Day, that holiest of days for Aussies, what only matters is that you are Australian. Strangers become friends, friends become besties. The day is one huge celebration of everything Australian. And I can’t think of anything better to celebrate than the fact that I am, you are, we are — Australian.
We come from a very privileged nation. For centuries (around two centuries to be precise) we have been known as the ‘Lucky Country’. I don’t think there is a more apt description for our wonderful land Down Under. Blessed with perfect climates, with open spaces, with paradisiacal topography, with freedom, democracy and free speech — Australia sets the bar for many people the world over.
Our population is made up of nationalities from around the world and at the risk of perpetuating a stereotype many think is tired and incorrect, for me, we are one of the most laid back and friendly of nations. The easy going Australian attitude is what I want to see carried on for many Aussie generations.
We love our sport, our mates, our beaches, our diggers and a cheeky drink or two. We celebrate anti-totalitarianism like a religion (just think, Ned Kelly is one of our national heroes and Julian Assange is endeavouring to be the twenty-first century version). We embrace happiness as a way of life (especially in places like Nimbin). While others may call us racist, we are one of the most multi-cultural societies on the face of the planet. We lead the world in many fields of science, research and technology and our celebrities are internationally fawned upon.
I am proud to call myself Australian. I am proud my parents were born in Australia and that I had the privilege to grow up in what is my favourite country in the world. I count myself lucky almost every day that I was born on the shores of Sydney Harbour. That I could use the Southern Cross as my compass and the famous Aussie drawl as my signature. That I could look upon Paul Hogan’s character Mick Dundee as an idol and be safe in the knowledge that bands like AC/DC were building our Australian reputation globally.
I love the fact that I can count bogans, westies, toffs, posh bastards, concrete cowboys and yobos amongst my mates. I love that when I go home, a beautiful beach is always a just a short drive away. I love our flora and our fauna, our landscapes and our cities.
I love that living in London, yes I stand out from the crowd because I am Australian. But no matter what image automatically comes to the minds of our British hosts, they will not forget that we are Australian. They will have stereotypes that we fit or do not fit. They will have preconceived notions of how we should act and talk and behave. But I don’t mind that in the slightest. In fact, I’ll happily embrace it.
Because for me, being an Australian is the highest honour anyone can bestow upon me. It’s something that no one can ever take away from me. It’s what I will be celebrating on Thursday when I wake up and realise it is Australia Day.
So come on London, join with me now, you know the words:
“…In joyful strains then let us sing, Advance Australia Fair!”