Saturday, January 28, 2023

Misery Day

To explain to non Australians about Australia Day, it is the day we celebrate when the First Fleet (ship) of settlers from Britain arrived to Sydney Cove in 1788.

Many of our First Nation people see it as invasion day, and that is exactly what it was. Britain invaded Australia, displaced the local population, gave them terrible diseases that killed them, at times massacred local populations and took sexual advantage of them. They took away Aboriginal hunting grounds to turn them into farms. There was mass poisoning of Aborigines.  In South Australia, quite a number were driven off a cliff to die on rocks or in the sea below. Well into the twentieth century, crudely put, half casts were removed from their mothers to have a 'better life', mostly educated in Christian ways at missions. Funnily they went on to be the best spokespeople with their excellent English language education, but many were treated cruelly, forced into domestic service and women regularly raped. 

The original owners of our land were treated appalling. Is the day when white man arrived en masse to commit terrible crimes against the local population a day to celebrate? 

That is history. It was not my doing and I have no responsibility for what happened. This is my country now, no matter how that came to be. My family on both sides has been here by free will since the 1840s. I am not sure how my Swiss Italian forebears managed to afford to come here from their impoverished subsistence village.

My Tradie Brother posted a photo of Dog and a koala of some kind in an Australian flag costume on FB with the comment, Australia Day 26th jan other wise piss off


I gently argued with him twice on the phone that the day had become so divisive, the date needed to change. He is not for changing.

What first made me alert and alarmed was when I heard the publican of the Torquay Hotel, who owns a couple of other pubs, decided to go low key on Australia Day after being approached by a couple of his Aboriginal staff. They did not issue an ultimatum, just asked and mentioned their discomfort if there was an overt celebration. He respectfully saw their point of view, to many approvals and many disapprovals. 

Then the Australia Day multicultural parade was cancelled, and just as well given what happened.

We trammed to St Kilda for brunch in the morning and I noted via Twitter there was a demo in the city and tram services were disrupted. That would normally be perhaps a one to to one and half hour disruption. No sign of Australia Day in Acland Street but earlier there had been a large mourning ceremony. 

Little did I dream that the disruption would go on until 2.30 when I caught the tram to see the RACV old and classic car display at the Kings Domain. I looked online before I went but information was not clear about the car show. The tram system was in such a mess, even I did not know how I could get to Kings Domain, but with more arse than class, I did get close by, only to find the car display wasn't happening.

I revisited the 'dangerous children's park' (more on that later) and I managed to find my way home. 

People displaying the Aussie flag on their cars, with flags bracketed to windows? Not to be seen this year.

Household Management decided it was Australian to go out for a pub meal that night and we trammed to the Malvern Vale Hotel and had some nice tucker. The pub's Australia Day effort was a couple of metres of Aussie flag bunting below a shelf and a flag in the decked dining area. I lost ten dollars on the machines and R won ten dollars. My argument that I has subsidised his win and he owed my $5 went unacknowledged.

The well turned out woman next to me on her machine wished me Happy Australia Day and then over explained about how her children were 'woke' and did not celebrate the day. She was one for keeping the day as it is. It is not in my nature to be confrontational and I kept my gob shut.  

And all this happened in Sydney too, with central city tram services suspended because of protest marches. In every Australian capital city, there were protest marches. It was so ugly in Melbourne with neo Nazis and white supremacists confronting the protestors. 

I never want to experience another Australia Day like this one.

21 comments:

  1. There were demonstrations in my city too. I was in town before they started and they had marched on to Parliament House before I left. I long for the day that we can find a more inclusive and much less divisive day to celebrate.It was v hot coming home and I gave myself a rare treat and caught a cab. The driver (who was in his seventies) raised the issue was definitely in favour of changing the day.

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    1. EC, it is not so bad when a taxi driver and yourself have similar views, but what if you were a keep the day person. I don't like political and social views exposed by cabbies or business owners.

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    2. You are a tough customer, Andrew.

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    3. I don't think so MC. Invariably those who wear their political views on their sleeves have an opposite view to my own. It is pointless to argue with them.

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  2. I read a piece on conversation stating that the date of first fleet arrival is actually 18th Jan instead of 26th. The whole thing is becoming too bizarre. Every land parcel has been invaded in history of mankind. The whole talk about "pay the rent" or "voice to parliament" drama are really just showmanship.

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    1. Roentare, the different date is interesting and I don't know about it. You are right about invasion, but Australians do need to know the very bad things that happened in the past. I've yet to make my mind up about the voice to parliament.

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  3. I like the ceremonies (more in Sydney than here) that seemed to be inclusive with the smoking ceremonies and the dances. We can't change history. We should learn from it and just try to all get along. Many forget the atrocities that have been done to so many in the early days of colonisation. Not just the indigenous peoples but those who were forced to come here and were treated abominably. Women particularly were transported to provide "comfort" for the men. I could go on but I won't. It is time to move forward as one nation (not THAT one nation!).

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    Replies
    1. Nicely considered and written Caro. Thanks.

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    2. Oh, I agree. Well presented opinion. And kindness to others is my humble focus. We have to start somewhere. However, neighbors and strangers in my day-to-day life fair better than my husband if he's the least bit annoying. ~hangs head~ Best wishes!

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  4. In 1901, the six British independent colonies united to form the Commonweath of Australia on 1st January. Or Constitution Day could be celebrated on the 9th July each year, marking the date the Australian Constitution became law in 1900. Either of these dates might be suitable for a public holiday.

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    1. Jan 1 would mean the loss of a public holiday. We are a bit short of public holidays in July. So the July the 9th sounds good to me.

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  5. I don't think we should keep the date, I'd prefer to celebrate Federation Day as that is when all the states were recognised or united as Australian, or something like that. although that still doesn't appease the wrongs felt by the indigenous peoples. Like you said though, it was way in the past and all present day white people of any nationality currently living in Australia had nothing to do with that. Part of the trouble, I think, is too many people aren't willing to move on from the original invasion idea. And we aren't the only country this happened in. Even "good old England" had the Vikings invading and taking land.

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    1. As always River, you write with common sense. Many other countries have similar history to deal with.

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  6. In the United States the controversial day, is Columbus Day.

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  7. Yeah, same thing happened here and in Canada, Mexico too for that matter. Probably all of us should celebrate our current countries on a day, not invasions, that really involved only a few, long long time ago, nothing to do with anyone alive today, except we are descendants. Original peoples were not originally from here either, but migrated here.

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    1. Yes Strayer. In our case our indigenous migrated here too, but some 60,000 plus years ago. That could be 600,000 years ago. I can't remember.

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  8. Canada Day, July 1 (originally Dominion Day (I had forgotten that)) is when the Canadian Constitution was signed. It has issues too and some attempts to rename it. The treatment of the indigenous here was horrific as well and we continue to discover more mass graves at the residential school sites that the churches ran.

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    1. Jackie, that is a better thing to celebrate. Some would like similar here but our date is January 1st and it would mean the loss of a public holiday, never mind New Year Day hangovers.

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  9. This year I didn't even make the effort to go and see the fireworks/drone show, but I heard that they were expecting about a 1/4 of the people they usually get. The fireworks budget was slashed to 1/3 too and many councils didn't have any celebrations scheduled.

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    1. Sami, just as miserable in Perth then. Something has to be done.

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