Come Sail Your Ships Around Me

Australia’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Young and uncouth with some pretty sharp edges, we’re just a little too rugged for some. Our words often travel from the back of our throats to the tips of our nose, a passage that perhaps doesn’t appeal to all. Struth Ruth, that dingo’s got my baby. G’day mate. The amateurs try to imitate, but it’s too hard, you have to have it in your heart to do it justice.

And it is rugged. Children quickly learn how to eradicate a bug, swat a fly, body surf through a wave, swim against a river current, or survive the politics of an inner city pool.  Slip, slop, slap, kids alive – do the five. There’s an expectation, get out there, it might be dangerous but we’ll give you the tools. Give it a go.

And if you don’t like the birds, trees and wide open spaces, you’re just going to have to suffer through cosmopolitan coffee shops, exquisite restaurants, and the diversity of one hundred alfresco cafe’s without a strip mall in sight.

So why leave?

We leave to discover, to unearth, and to consider the truth behind our lucky country. We attempt to appease the inquisitive mind of what lays beyond the island.  It’s all so curiously far away. Countries with populations we cannot imagine, how do they fit them all in?

And when we get there, we’re surprised by how often we find ourselves telling tales of sunshine, beaches, backyards and bike trails. We talk of sport, playwrights, film stars and inventors. “Uh huh uh huh, wifi, cochlear ears, black boxes and ultrasounds – that was us mate”. You never knew just how patriotic you were until you left.

All over the world today, Australians will begin to celebrate. G and I have taken part in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Tripoli, Calgary, Houston and tonight it’s an Aussie Quiz night in Doha. In London, pubs will fill with an excusable display of Aussie pride, parties will be held in the States. In all four corners, soldiers, diplomats, backpackers, accountants, bankers, teachers, and doctors, all far from home, whose hearts will momentarily fill with a heaviness that comes with being dislocated from the familiar, and the knowledge that we got lucky.

Happy Australia Day.

(All good Aussie tributes have to begin with a Kiwi)

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