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Australia Day activities
Freestylin’ & flix
Country Victoria
Another date for Australia Day?
Man in purple shoes
Melbourne’s Hidden Gems
Singles
Writers’ festivals
Our top 5
Midsumma Festival
Reader feedback

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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 Melbourne

If none of these appeal, you can always join the cruise ships gunzels at Station Pier on Saturday to watch the arrival or departure of the cruise ship Silver Shadow.

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.

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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 Treasury Gardens

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Country Victoria

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 Victoria

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Another Date for Australia Day?

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.

My 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 Victoria) or 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.
You can 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.

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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.

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Melbourne’s Hidden Gems

Please note: This section of the newsletter has been removed as it forms part of a forthcoming publication.
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Free Organ Recital

A free recital on the marvellous monster at the Town Hall Details at Classical Music in Melbourne

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Singles

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

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Writers’ Festival

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 festivals at Literary Festivals in Melbourne

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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’ activists

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 dreamtime stories

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 200 Significant Australians contains about 260 names. I’ve never counted them so I suspect no-one else will.

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Midsumma Festival

If you don’t know what the Midsumma Festival is then, who knows, you may enjoy it. Details at:

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Reader Feedback

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 drivers seats.
Thank you for that one
Braidy”

You can find a comprehensive guide to markets around Australia at The White Hat Guide to Markets in Australia.