Started off well, with the Aboriginal didj player/MC very good. He welcomed us all to Country - the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. Aboriginal dancers saw off any evil and negative thoughts, and a few brave souls got up and joined in corroboree when invited. The local sea scouts hoisted the flag and gave it a salute....and good thing they were there - they formed the core group of corroboree "volunteers".
They then went off in search of the BBQ, and I overheard one of the kids saying "it's gangsta" (that's the latest word for really, really cool, by the way) - whether he meant the dancing, the flag raising or the anticipation of a burnt snag, I know not.
A choir of smiling women sang the national anthem. Then the mayor and other local dig-er-nit-aries got hold of the mike and we became girt by speeches. The mayor made the most of his time and gave the same speech at least 3 times. The usual phalanx of pollies came and went, and the Australia Day Ambassador, a local identity, Dick Caine, a sports and swim coach told us about his days round Cullanulla in Banjo Paterson territory and introduced us to his family of multi-ethnic background - many of the kids he has taught to swim over the years. He was refreshing.
Cherie Burton, the member of state parliament for Kogarah added some laid back appeal, in her sleeveless top and thongs. She welcomed the Koori dancers to country, which was an interesting hands-across-the-sea reversal of fortunes. Poor old Robert McClelland, the local federal member - it was also his 50th b'day - attempting to keep the "dignified" in dignitary, musta been sweltering in his sports jacket and tie. But we did learn that he's best mates with Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration, who he also reckons is a real ugly bruiser.
Kevin Greene, andother state MP during his turn all but apologised for being born here and therefore never having CHOSEN citizenship.
As with all these things, it took about 12 speeches by blokes (and Cherie) to get to the moving bit - the proud new citizens swearing under God, or affirming to no God (sequentially) to be bonza Aussies. It was great seeing their smiling, proud faces. The choir sang some more.
Then they announced the local Citizens of The Year, which is nice in a parish-pump kinda way. Dick Caine also received that honour, which was a surprise to him.
The Queen's only appearance was by portrait, propped up by a nearby tree. She didn't get mentioned, and wasn't really able to be sighted, once the choir and swelling ranks of officialdom blocked her view of proceedings. I reckon sometime when we can agree on how to elect a President, we'll ease into Republicanism. Monarchy's pretty much a dead duck as far as local sarah-moany goes.
After that, on a bright beautiful, sunny 25 degree day, citizens old and new drifted off to the bbqs, camel rides and bouncy castle fun. It really was anything but a white bread affair, which is noice indeed. And the newest Australians all looked might chuffed.
Below: The Queen presided over events from the comfort of the garden, propped up by a tree:
Dance of various animals, including the emu:
Teaching volunteer participants the emu dance:
The faces of people about to become citizens:
Taking the oath or affirmation:
The faces of Australia: Celebrate diversity!