Australia Day activities
Freestylin’ & flix
Another date for Australia Day?
Man in purple shoes
Melbourne’s Hidden Gems
Our top 5
Australia Day Activities
There are always tons of free activities on Australia Day. This year in
the city there is a regatta, free morning tea, parade, concert and
fireworks. All around Australia there will be crowds of 5 people
watching an official party of 15 politicians raising a flag – check
with you local council for details of your local celebrations.
When the first fleet arrived, exhausted half-dead wretches staggered off
the boats, and this event is commemorated at the finishing line of the
Australia Day Fun Run where exhausted half-dead wretches stagger across the
line. Details of these events at
Major events in
If none of these appeal, you can always join the cruise ships gunzels at
on Saturday to watch the arrival or departure of the cruise ship Silver
Then again you could always celebrate Australia Day by staying at home
and learning the second verse of the national anthem. Unfortunately it’s
not nearly as bloodthirsty as the second verse of God Save the Queen.
Freestylin' & Flix
Demos & lessons in scratching, DJing, MCing, hip-hop dancing and
championship level hackey-sacking, followed by a film. If you don’t know
what scratching is, then you probably wouldn’t enjoy it. Tomorrow’s free
movie is Batman (probably about the founding of Melbourne) and next weeks is
one of the Terminator series. Details at
This weekend is the Scottish Tattoo in Ballarat and a working horse
festival in the Yarra Valley. Go along and see what happened to that nag
you bet on in the Melbourne Cup. Details at
Events in Country
Some people feel that the current date of Australia Day is inappropriate
because it marks the British invasion of Aboriginal Australia and we
should instead hold it on the day that Australians invaded Turkey.
preference would be for September 1 – Wattle Day. In the years between
Federation and the First World War, wattle took on a deep significance
for many Australians. An enthusiastic naturalist, A. J. Campbell, formed
the Wattle Club in 1899 and his tweed-clad followers would tramp around the
bush and farms ambushing unsuspecting wattle trees and join hands (with the
opposite sex) and chant and sing - the chants and songs are now fortunately
lost to posterity - before denuding said wattle tree so that sprigs could be
distributed to the wattle-less hordes of the city. At news that A. J.
Campbell was in the area, farmers locked their gates and wrote angry letters to the
newspapers in an attempt to save their wattle trees from the naturalists.
A. J. Campbell & his followers in Werribee Gorge, 1905
Wattle Day was variously celebrated on August 1
(to suit NSW's Cootamundra Wattle - regarded as a dangerous weed in
September 1, but more recently the first day of Spring has seemed more
appropriate as a time when wattle is in bloom throughout Oz. (Yes, I
know there are arguments about what is the first day of Spring). Writers
like Henry Lawson and
C J Dennis
celebrated the wattle as a symbol of
Australia at the same time as Canadians were adopting the maple leaf and
New Zealanders the fern.
Sir William Deane’s choice of sprigs of
wattle from his own garden to commemorate the death of young Australians
overseas had added poignancy for those familiar with the significance of
wattle in Australian history. Australia has adopted the green and gold
of the wattle as our national colours, and the wattle has been
celebrated by some of our lesser poets. If my memory serves me correctly
there is a verse that goes something like this:
“Our favourite flower’s the wattle,
The emblem of this land.
stick it in a bottle,
You can ’old it in your ’and.”
Like the Eureka Flag, home grown icons like Wattle
Day are easily hijacked by groups with socio-political agendas aimed
more at dividing Australians rather than uniting them, but that shouldn't
necessarily mean they are surrendered without a murmur.
Yes, I think White Hat would settle for Wattle Day as our national day.
Man in Purple Shoes
Between about 7 and 9 on weekday mornings, sitting on a bench on the
corner of Collins and Elizabeth St is a businessman in purple shoes. If
you make the time to sit down and have a quiet chat with him, I think
you will find the experience rewarding. I think he will be there until
the end of January.
Melbourne’s Hidden Gems
|Please note: This section of the newsletter has been
removed as it forms part of a forthcoming publication.
Free Organ Recital
A free recital on the marvellous monster at the Town Hall Details at
Music in Melbourne
Would you like to meet new people? Then put on a pair of purple shoes and
sit on a street corner in the city of a morning. Alternatively, you might
find some ideas for singles in Melbourne at
Singles in Melbourne
The inaugural Emerging Writers’ Festival kicks off tonight with a free
party and a full program of workshops over the weekend. There is also a
festival called “Making It Up”. I thought it might be for Australian
history academics, but it turns out to be for zine writers. If you don’t
know what a zine is, you probably wouldn’t enjoy it. Details of both
Literary Festivals in Melbourne
Our Top 5
I notice ABC television has a program on Australia Day exploring our top
Australians, so I thought I would give my top five.
Howard Florey – probably saved more lives than any other Australian
Caroline Chisholm – currently out of fashion with ‘look at me’
Dame Nelly Melba – she named herself after this town, so
she can’t be too bad
Dreamtime Man – with over 60,000 years in this country, there must be
many remarkable Aboriginal people whose stories we will never know.
However I’m sure some remarkable individuals form the basis for
John Curtin – but for Curtin this newsletter might be in Japanese
Douglas Mawson – scientist and eco-adrenalin tourist
Arthur Stace – one word philosopher
Percy Grainger – a local boy, creative genius and world class ratbag
Ask me again next week and the list would be different.
Those of you with a quality education may have noticed there are more
than five names in the list, but that’s OK. Our website listing of
Australians contains about 260 names. I’ve never counted them so I
suspect no-one else will.
If you don’t know what the Midsumma Festival is then, who knows, you
may enjoy it. Details at:
Braidy writes regarding the tram museum
“This was areal hidden gem!
They have cable trams, the 2nd 'W' class tram ever made and a cycling
tram! The kids there loved ringing all the bells and sitting in the
Thank you for that one