Australia is an old land but a very young country the first white settlement was in 1788 by English mariners bringing a precious cargo of convicted felons to settle this vast land, the convicts were of course supported by a few free settlers and the military personnel necessary to control them.
The first fleet brought 778 new settlers to these shores, they landed at Botany Bay and established the colony at what is now Sydney.
Over the next 40 or 50 years they pretty much dispossessed the traditional land owners, the estimated 500,00o aboriginals who had been here for some 40,000 years, so it is very unlikely that their descendants join with us in celebrating Australia Day.
The 60 years after World War 2 saw our population soar from around 10 million to 21 million with immigration from just about every country on earth accounting for a huge proportion of it.
In the 223 years of white settlement we have established 6 States and 2 territories ranging from the huge State of West Australia which occupies almost one third of the continent to the tiny island State of Tasmania and the even tinier Australian Capital Territory which houses our capital city Canberra.
Our Eastern seaboard contains Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland with Melbourne Sydney and Brisbane as their capitals, a little more than two thirds of our population lives along this coastline.
The vast, mainly flat inland of the continent is known as "The Red Centre" it covers some two thirds of the land mass and is virtually uninhabited, with Alice Springs the unofficial "Capital" and the only town of any consequence.
That same deserted Red Centre does have an irresistible magnet for Australians who have any adventure in their souls, it contains pockets of beauty that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth,such places as Uluru, The Olga's, Palm Valley, Kings Canyon, Stanley Chasm, Ormiston Gorge,The Bungle Bungles and The Kimberley, my life is now complete because I have visited and loved these places.
Because I love poetry I am going to include two very different poems in this "Celebration" of Australia Day for 2011.
The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running through your veins.
Strong love of grey-blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies-
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains,
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror-
The wide brown land for me.
The stark white ring-barked forests,
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold rush of noon,
Green tangle of the brushes
Where lithe Liana's coil
And orchids deck the treetops,
And ferns the warm dark soil.
Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When, sick at heart, around us
We see the cattle die-
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady soaking rain.
Core of my heart my country!
Land of the rainbow gold,
For flood and fire and famine
She pays us back threefold.
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze.
An opal heated country,
A willful, lavish land-
All those who have not loved her,
You will not understand-
Though Earth holds many splendors,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly.
Dorothea Mackellar 1885 – 1968.
The second one describes the sheer frustrations of living in "Outback Australia"
The bloody town’s a bloody cuss,
No bloody trams, no bloody bus.
And no-one cares for bloody us
Just bloody heat and bloody flies,
The bloody sweat runs in your eyes.
And if it rains, what a surprise
No bloody fun, no bloody games,
No bloody sport, no bloody dames.
Won’t even give their bloody names
No bloody clouds or bloody rain.
No bloody curbs no bloody drains.
The bloody council’s got no brains
The bloody goods are bloody dear’
A bloody buck for a bloody beer.
But is it good, no bloody fear
The bloody dances make you smile,
The bloody band is bloody vile,
They only cramp your bloody style
The best place is in bloody bed
With bloody ice upon your head,
You might as well be bloody dead
There is a slight overuse of the great Australian bloody adjective here to be sure, however we were left in no doubt by Mr. Anonymous as to his feelings, and that epitomizes the Australian way.