Saturday, 26 January 2008

Straya Day, Carss Park on Kogarah Bay

Wandered down to Carss Park in time for the local Straya Day sarah-moanies. Australia Day commemorates the setting up of European settlement in Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788.

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!


  1. Looks like you had a great day - fabulous set of photographs. Happy Australia Day!

    Sally, what does sarah-moany mean? or am I being thick in missing the meaning?

    Love your commentary.

    I'm an Aussie citizen, by the way - was given that honour in Tasmania - also a Brit.

  2. Hi Jilly! Fellow citizen. It's great having dual nationality - I also have Italian!

    Sarah-moany = ceremony, in the way it is often pronounced these days. I think it's an adoption of the American pronunciation?

    I really wanted to do a mosaic, rather than all the pics, but I don't have any appropriate software....

  3. 12 speeches, Citizens of the Year, the Queen in photo... I'm sure you had a lot of fun!
    Enjoy the weekend!

  4. Happy Straya Day!

    Yup, I'm back to daily posting! Its good to be back :)

  5. With the inclusion of the scouting movement who exclude gay people you are indeed not celebrating diversity but encouraging hatred against fellow Australians who just happen to be gay.

  6. An interesting North American point of view. Not so in Australia. You obviously have some very large barriers to overcome, including ignorance of conditions in other parts of the world. But I wish you every success.

    I refer you to this news item from our national broadcaster, the ABC.

    COMPERE: The US scouting movement says it is opposed to gay people being allowed to serve as scout leaders and it's asking the Supreme Court in Washington to give special dispensation to exclude gays from their ranks.

    The Australian scouting movement, however, says that despite an affiliation with the American organisation they don't agree with the policy and are in fact surprised the US group has been able to maintain its position for so long.

    Bronwyn Adcock asked Dion Ellis, Executive Director of the Scouting Association in Victoria to explain the Australian Scouting Movement's position on homosexuality.

    DION ELLIS: Well there's no specific issue with gay people. We, perhaps I'll put it that we do not use sexual orientation as a barrier to being a scout leader or in fact involved as a youth member.

    BRONWYN ADCOCK: So you have no problem with a gay person being a scout leader or even in the scouts.

    DION ELLIS: Not per se, no. Our criteria is that good leaders are good leaders and we look at a person's character and their behaviour around children and assess them on that basis.

    BRONWYN ADCOCK: Could someone be openly gay and be in the scouts or would they have to hide it?

    DION ELLIS: It's difficult to be . I'd need to know more about what 'openly gay' means to give a really good answer. But if the question means would we be concerned if it was known that a person was gay, and if we were talking about a leader here - no, not necessarily.

    If 'openly gay' means, for example, more or less advertising their sexuality in a way that we think is inappropriate around children then yes we would be concerned, but it wouldn't be because they're gay it would be because of the display of sexual behaviour around children we would, or may, consider inappropriate.

    That same criteria would be used to assess the behaviour of any leader though, heterosexual or homosexual.

    BRONWYN ADCOCK: What's your view on the position taken by the United States Scouting groups?

    DION ELLIS: Well we are very interested. We observe their position with considerable interest. It is not going to influence our policy. The Scout Association in Australia observes the law, is a strong upholder of the law and we're very happy to do so. But the law, just to be unambiguous is quite clear, there is no discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation.

    BRONWYN ADCOCK: Do you have any concerns about their positions?

    DION ELLIS: Well we have been puzzled. I have to say I think we've been puzzled that in a country as committed to human and individual rights as they are, we've been really puzzled at how the American Association has been able to maintain this policy for so long.

    But there are distinct differences between their legal environment and ours and so we watch it with interest, but it doesn't concern us in the sense that their policies are theirs and ours Australian.

    BRONWYN ADCOCK: Given though that you are affiliated is this something that you would bring up with them? Have you or would you discuss it with them?

    DION ELLIS: Well it has been a topic of discussion I understand over the years, but within the World Federation of Scouting policies like this are left to each individual country, and in the same sense we've had discussions with other member bodies within the World Scout Federation about other human rights issues. It hasn't been a primary concern of ours because we think they're able to handle it themselves, but it is a point of difference and a point of interest.

    COMPERE: Dion Ellis is Executive Director of the Scouting Association in Victoria speaking to Bronwyn Adcock.

  7. Looks like you were not only girt by speeches but by a good day had by all. Beauty mate.

    As for Gangsta, i think of Al Capone

  8. Oh Sally, just when I thought my crying was done for a while, you made me cry again, with your description of these proud new Australian citizens. It reminded me of how proud and excited my brother was to become an Aussie citizen a few years ago at just such a sarah-moany. :) He passed away unexpectedly on 11 January, so these memories are very precious. Thank-you.

  9. I didn't know you have the Italian nationality too. I'm happy to read it and, let me say... a bit proud you "own" a bit to this country too.

  10. The flags--what a terrific shot!