Sunday, January 25, 2009

Australia Day

Leading up to the weekend, I spent an interesting couple of days asking random visitors:
"What is the meaning behind "Australia Day" ? Because I didn't have a clue.
Evidently, they didn't either.
(And actually, I didn't really just "ask"...I interrogated those visitors. But I'm cute and can get away with it.)
I heard:
"It's the day we celebrate by having barbies".
( as in throw another shrimp on the barbie... otherwise known as barbeque's)
"It's a day when we have piss-ups with our mates."
(which means drink lots and lots of beer and become drunk and obnoxious and call everyone within cooeeee your mate.)
"I don't know the meaning behind it, but it's a public holiday"
"It's a public holiday, so all the shops are closed."

Okay, but why is it a public holiday and what are we celebrating?

12 random people were "polled" (well, actually they weren't just random people, but my guy, parents of my daycare kids, 3 friends, the Avon Man (yes indeedy, we have "equal opportunity" in this country), a guy trying to sell me Austar and the meter-reader) and not a one of them could give me a definitive answer. So I went googling.

And found this :
"On 13 May 1787, a fleet of 11 ships, which came to be known as the First Fleet, was sent by the British Admiralty from England to Australia. Under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip, the fleet sought to establish a penal colony at Botany Bay on the coast of New South Wales, which had been explored by Captain James Cook in 1770. The settlement was seen as necessary because of the loss of the colonies in North America."
(And those damn Yankees just wouldn't accept convicts from England anymore.)

So anyway... it seems that one Major George Johnston was the very first officer that came ashore to establish a penal colony... and that was cause for big celebration.

However, it wasn't his own feet that actually carried him ashore - they were somebody else's feet.
Major George Johnston had the honour of being the first officer ashore from the First Fleet, having been carried from the landing boat, on the back of convict James Ruse.
Because, James Ruse had to carry (well, I don't think that he was actually "asked" per se, but was forced to carry... thereby making it "HAD to carry") Major George Johnson piggy-back style through the surf, so the good major wouldn't get his feet and his expensive leather boots wet. So James Ruse really got there first, didn't he? But of course, the major got the pats on the back and had tankards of ale hoisted in his honor.

20 years later on January 25th 1808, they celebrated not only the landing, but the survival of the the people who made the "First Landing" ... and all because Major George Johnson first stepped ashore on Australian soil after someone carried him there.
And they celebrated because they had all endured hardship, deprivation and starvation.
Anyway, that's the story in a nutshell.
I'm going to go out now, fire up the barbie and have me some snags and hoist an ale.
Happy Australia Day, everyone !
I hope you all have a wonderful, relaxing day!


Paula said...

I will raise a toast to James Ruse, and his unacknowledged role in Australia Day! Hope you have a great holiday, and get to enjoy some shrimp on the barbie!

Kathy said...

That is a very interesting story. Have a shrimp for me would ya??

Robynn's Ravings said...

Well whaddya know? I know nothing apparently because I have never heard of Australia Day. But congratulations anyway!! Have fun and don't have too much of a "piss-up" with your mates or anyone else. Just say "No" to the cough syrup.

rubiesrnotpurple said...

I did know most of that - but then I'm an Aussie. Interesting thing to note though ... had never heard of a shrimp until Paul Hogan took his ad to America. Apparently that's what you call them. We call them prawns. We say stuff like "Don't come the raw prawn with me". Anyway there is now a hoo hah (has been for some years) about whether we should celebrate the day white man started stealing black fellas land, but that's a whole new comment. Whatever you're celebrating, enjoy it.

Homestay Mama said...

That was very interesting! Love listening to their Aussie accent. Are you acquiring it, too, Tatersmama?

Sherri said...

Have a camaron for me too Katie, I already have a beer. Oh and Homestay Mama, according to my sister and my brother-in-law (Kates son) yes she definately has an accent :)

Tatersmama said...

You know... I never understood the whole "shrimps on the barbie" thing either. To me, shrimps are tiny little things, the size of your baby finger and smaller - and I could never figure how you could keep them from falling through the barbeque grill! Prawns are much bigger and 4 or 5 would equal a meal.
So I went googling, and found this... which got me even more confused. LOL, it's easy to do.

Homestay Mama,
I've become a mish-mash when it comes to my accent. Aussies still laugh as me, and my son has to ask me to repeat everything I say.
Aussies say I sound like a Yank, and Yanks say I sound like an Aussie... so go figure!

It's too stinkin' hot for "cough syrup" today anyway.
I'm as cooked as a Christmas goose right now and tomorrow and the next day will be even hotter. :-(

Tatersmama said...

I do NOT have an accent! ;-)

Sherri said...

hey my friend I'm only repeatin what I was told...hahahaha

Elena said...

Happy Australia Day!
Hope you had a nice relaxing day too :)

Kurichan said...

Well, as a fellow Yank in Oz, I have to say you do NOT have an accent...but I don't know what you sounded like before your years here, either! Gotta say you sound a bit Irish, eh? BIG WINK I have gotten that comment, too...unbelievable! You just sound like a sweetheart, which you are!

Katherine Aucoin said...

Happy Austrailia Day. Now I know there is one and I hope you had a wonderful day!

The Wife said...

Whata ya know. Me and the General have something in common. I MAKE the hubby carry me around when I don't want to get my feet wet as well!

Happy Australia Day!

Treehouse Chef said...

Thank you for the history lesson. I love learning new things. How was the Neil Young concert? I hope it was inside and air conditioned.

Nancy M. said...

Glad you figured out the mystery and shared the answer with us. Just another reason to celebrate!


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