Sunday, February 1, 2015

Australia Day at the National Museum

Australia Day is a kind of strange kind of day - a day that celebrates the raising of the British Flag in Port Jackson, NSW.

It's a contentious day not least as the Australia of 1788 was declared Terra Nullius (literally "land belonging to no one") whereas actually there was possibly as many as 1.25 million Aboriginal Australians living in Australia when settlers arrived. The Aborigines were far from the nomadic savages that the Europeans saw them as, but in fact a people with a rich culture developed over 70,000 years of living in Australia before white people showed up.

History now shows that European settlement whether free or forced brought only bad news for indigenous people. Whether it was through the chicken pox, influenza and small pox that they were introduced to by their new neighbours or the genocidal policy wrought on Tasmanian Aboriginies the future for the people became distinctly bleak. We have a lot to learn from Aboriginies, alas we never will.

To celebrate this day now seems a bit anachronistic especially as the day is sometimes tagged "Invasion Day" and talks of a republic conveniently manage not to tie together the fact that the national day is actually a celebration of British arrival, but more worryingly (in my eyes) it gives people an excuse to be nationalistic (rather than patriotic). It is what it is though I guess (and we get a day off work which is good).

Putting aside the complexities of the day we got involved in a couple of great activities. Sunday night saw Paul Kelly (a legend of Australian music) play a free concert in Canberra during the Australian of the Year Awards. It was one of those sad moments. Amy loved Paul Kelly's music (which she introduced me to) Amy had gone over to Adelaide a couple of years ago to watch him play and I cried when I first heard on the radio that he was playing Canberra as sadly he came four months too late for her to watch him on our doorstep. His concert was fabulous.

On Monday we headed out to the National Museum which had a range of horse-related exhibitions. We saw equestrian vaulting (basically gymnastics on the back of a HUGE carthorse), went to the horse exhibition they have on at the moment and watched a great show "Baz and Snags (and Banjo)" in the main hall.

Ben Roberts Smith (VC) an absolute giant of a man, Jackie French and some unpopular chap who nobody clapped when he came on stage 
Paul Kelly plays "Thank you for Loving Me"

Shepphard play as the sun goes down

crowds pack Parliament House lawn

Fly past


The kids loving the puppet show

horses outside the museum

Audrey with Banjo and Baz
Baz and Snags

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