Straya Day Reflection

The Queen Must Die!

-An Australia Day Reflection

(as in looking in the mirror)

 

I don’t celebrate Australia day because l am a traditionalist.

Let me put that another way;

l don’t celebrate Australia Day, because l am a traditionalist.

The blackfellas have a long tradition of not celebrating Australia Day, dating back many thousands of years. It is this ancient tradition that l like to uphold.

As you may well know, our venerable Prime Minister is an avowed republican, but he has vowed to wait for our venerable queen to die of old age before he sets about the long and arduous task of establishing The Republic of Australia. While this is very sensitive of him, it could mean we are in for a long wait. Apart from the occasional sniffle she is in rude good health. Many of us may die of old age ourselves before our cherished republic comes to fruition. She could do us all a favor and abdicate, but she is a bit worried about her darling Prince Charles. Rumor has it he is a bit flakey, always banging on about organic vegetables and renewable energy and hippy shit like that. He could very well declare a republic himself if we’re not careful.

But when she dies, as surely she eventually must, we must be ready to grasp the nettle.

Let’s face it, this place needs a total makeover, root and branch.

 

  1. A new date for Oz Day (l suggest May 8 – pronounced ‘maaate’, or even better, the day we                 declare a fucking republic)
  2. A new National Anthem (l would suggest Waltzing Matilda, but standing on the                podium at the Olympics and breaking into song about a vagabond committing suicide because he was caught inflagranto dilecto with his favourite sheep would make us the laughing stock of the entire world, if we are not already)
  3. A new National Flag that includes a kelpie and no union jacks
  4. A stronger constitution, because you need a very strong constitution to stomach some of the shenanigans of our national parliament.
  5. A Republic – Based on true Australian values like barracking for the underdog.
  • Let’s face it, we are a nation of failures and proud of it.
  • The Blackfellas were decimated
  • The convicts were flogged
  • The Eureka Stockade was a massacre
  • Ned Kelly was hung
  • Gallipoli was a disaster
  • The Tazzy Tiger was exterminated
  • Phar Lap was poisoned
  • Gough Whitlam was sacked

But we’re still rooting for them, aren’t we? You bet we are!

 

We are like an old FJ Holden, limping along on 3 cylinders and spewing out black smoke. We don’t just need a grease lube and oil change, we need to recondition the entire engine, and bog up all the rust, and give her a new paint job.

(green and gold of course, or should that be black & gold)

 

So if Oz Day is destined to be more than an excuse for a a piss up and a piss take, it is timely to nail down just what it is Australian Culture? Does it even exist? And while we are at it, what is culture anyway? Maybe its easier to define what isn’t culture. Bar-B-Qs, fishing, surfingtaking the piss, wearing thongs on your feet instead of your crotch, playing sport, this is a way of life, but it isn’t culture. In fact it could be argued that playing sport is what you do when you have no culture. The Greeks don’t run around all weekend getting skin cancer and acquired brain injuries, do they? No, they have weddings, really big weddings where they sit around inventing democracy and philosophy and shit like that. The Italians, ditto, more weddings, where they sit around eating pasta made with tomatoes grown in polystyrene boxes in the front yard. The Lebanese have endless weddings, where they sit around inventing cumbers with edible skins.

Culture grows out of the land we live in, much like yogurt. Most of us here in this nacent nation haven’t been here long enough to create a culture, so maybe we should look to those who have, the local blackfellas. We may just find we have a lot more in common than we thought, such as camping. According to the stats, we are the most urbanized society ever invented, huddled together like ginea pigs, clinging as close to the edge of this vast continent as we can possibly get, starring longingly out to sea. But we do love the great outdoors, don’t we? You bet we do! Learned anthropologists have postulated that this quite possibly due in large part to the influence of the locals, they call them ‘aborigines’. These so-called Aborigines love nothing better than going camping, in fact their entire ‘life-style-choice’ is designed around the ability to pull up stumps and ‘go walk about’. No need to work overtime all year round to afford the airfare and the hotel and the restaurants and the exotic trinkets. Imagine the freedom of waking up one morning, any morning, grabbing your hunting gear and heading out on an adventure. No 20 kilo packs to lug, food and lodging provided as need be, and when you arrive your relies cook up a mouth-watering feast and put on a real song and dance to knock your socks off.

So we can see that the vagaries of the local climate dictate a nomadic lifestyle, including a life of feast & famine. None of this toiling all season and salting it away for the winter, to be nibbled one morsel at a time. When there was food you ate it all, when there was none, you went hungry. This life of feast & famine is yet another custom adopted and adapted from the locals. With the subtle difference that we have forgone the traditional famine bit, preferring instead, to feast pretty well constantly. In turn we have taught this recent adaptation to the blackfellas, with obvious consequences.

We can see that all true culture is shaped by our surroundings, and the elements of our surroundings that are unique is what will make us, in time unique. The unique climate created by the oscillations of El Nino have created a culture based on camping and partying (safe in the knowledge that it probably wont rain much for at least another few years.)

So what are some other unique aspects of the nature of our nature that is nurturing the unique nature of us?

Well, the place is very flat and very dry and very empty, (having decimated what few inhabitants there were) hence we have large cow farms that sport drovers with RM Williams boots and hats and a kelpie by their side, and feisty women who can ride a fucking horse and crack a whip.

We have more beaches per head than anywhere else except Canada, but most of theirs are frozen solid all year round (know anyone going on a surfing trip to Canada? No, l didn’t think so) Thus is born the surfing lifestyle – driving old Volvos, smoking bongs and eating junk food, getting up early to check the waves before going back to bed, roaming around the country in semi-nomadic fashion (just like the locals)

Fishing – Many of you may remember that oft quoted saying from the great Mao Tse Tung himself, that was drummed into us all throughout grade 3 Political History: “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day- teach a man to fish and he will spend every second weekend with his mate, sitting in a dingy in the middle of a lake, getting quietly sozzled. It is a well kept secret that the fish are of secondary importance and it is actually all about contemplating the awesome beauty of the natural world. (the Japanese have a special word for this; ‘shinrinyoku’ – forest bathing)

Alas and alak, these embryonic cultural practices have begun to die out before they are fully formed. As we speak they are being guzzumped by new cultural practices like Instagram. (my friend Alex says we should start Consider-a-gram, where every comment has a 24 hour delay before it can be posted. In Consider-a-gram it is a real no-no to boast about the great fun you are having, as it tends to have a deleterious effect on those not having an orgasmic experience every five minutes. In Consider-A-Gram we like to post about the truly boring time we are having so no one gets jealous.)

Yet another unique aspect of our way of life generated by the vast emptiness that engulfs us (literally as well as metaphorically) is immigration, immigration on a vast scale. We currently import more people per head than any other country on earth. (not counting refugees of course, because they don’t count). We may not be the most multi-cultural nation on the planet but we can argue that we are the most successful at it. (Just look at The U.S.A. – now referred to as the D.S.A.) We may be lacking in culture but we are not lacking in cultural choice. This has made us a nation of foodies. A whole new growth industry of people who get very well paid to eat food and talk about it while we watch.

(Back In my day if we uttered a single syllable at the dinner table we got a whack in the earhole.)

So to be an Australian is to be into eating food, strange, exotic food.

We are big eaters, now officially the biggest in the world.

 

The more we look, the more aspects of our way of life we find that are really quite unique and special, and the deeper we look, we see that these things have sprung from our unique geography. So to sum up l would venture to say that culture is a product of the interaction between geography and time, but most of us have not yet spent enough time here to acquire culture, nor have we spent enough time interacting with our geography or learning from those who have.

 

 

 

INVASION DAY Homily

Cook-Cairns-Hitler
We see ourselves as peace loving, generous, tolerant people yet is that how the world sees us? The rest of the world sees a country constantly at war. We have been at war in Afghanistan for 14 years now, and no end in sight. We here in Sleepy hollow may have forgotten about those wars but I can assure you the people of Afghanistan have not.
The rest of the world sees a nation hell bent on denying asylum to some of the most desperate people on earth, fleeing conflicts half of which we have created, while we debate whether to tow their boats back out to sea and use them for target practice.
The rest of the world sees a nation that treats its Indigenous people like shit. Always has and always will. We may believe we are trying really hard to ameliorate their endless suffering, but the world, I’m afraid sees only our complete and utter failure to do so. Why do we treat them so? Is it punishment for making us feel guilty?
We are one of the wealthiest nations on earth yet we sit back and watch our nearest neighbour Papua New Ginea descend into barbarism. We attempt to diddle our other neighbour East Timor out of their oil. We turn away Pacific Islanders desperately seeking somewhere to live once their countries disappear under the rising seas. A problem we have helped to create and are unwilling to fix.
Maybe it is time to administer a few drops of Optical Viagra and have a good hard look at our selves.

Ben Laycock 2010

CAPTAIN COOK

Those who did not pay attention in primary school may not be aware of the fact that Australia was discovered by Captain Cook in 1770. Some of you may be suffering from the delusion that it was discovered some 40,000 years earlier by a bunch of blackfellas. Some may believe it was Willem Janszoon, purportedly the first white man to set foot on this land, in the vicinity of Cape York way back in 1606 would you believe, or maybe Dirk Hartog who mapped the west coast in 1616, or William Dampier in 1669. But you see, the problem with all these people is they were not Englishmen and we all know that Australia was discovered by the English, the very pinnacle of human evolution according to the social Darwinism that was all the rage at the time. So there fore logically speaking they could not have discovered Australia because they were Dutchmen weren’t they? But hang on, what about good old Able Tasman who discovered Tasmania several times, way back in 1642. Wasn’t he a full blooded Englishman? Why wasn’t he allowed to discover Australia?

Buggered if I know.

So we all know that Captain Cook visited Australia in 1770. Some of you may not be aware that he sailed all the way up the east coast without once setting foot on terra firma. It was not until his boat sprung a leak on the notorious Great Barrier Reef that he came ashore to fix it. There he encountered the Guugu Yimidirrh people.

He offered them gifts of cloth, nails and paper all of which they obviously found completely useless, but they were delighted when he gave them a fish, which they regarded as a symbolic gift.

He shot a large fury animal and asked one of the Australians what it was called. The fellow said gungurru. The first Australian word ever recorded.

After repairing the boat, which took 6 weeks, Captain Cook bid a fond farewell to the Guugu Yimidirrh and set sail for the Cook islands which had a different name at the time, where he did not receive such a warm welcome.

He wrote in his log, ‘From what I have seen of the natives of New Holland, they may appear to be some of the most wretched people on Earth. But in reality they are far happier than we Europeans, being wholly unacquainted not only with the superfluous, but with the necessary conveniences so much sought after in Europe. They are happy in not knowing the use of them. They live in tranquillity. The earth and the sea of their own accord furnish them with all things necessary in life.’

This is a very important statement. A description of the first encounter with people living in the Stone Age. They were obviously as happy, if not happier than we are today. So that begs the question ‘what is all this development for? All this technology, all these gadjets, all this stuff. Obviously not to make us happier, we were already happy. The only advantage to all this technological development is, we can support more and more people. But is the world a better place for having more people in it? Are we happier because there are more of us? This is not a rhetorical question? This is a very important question, at the very nub of the paradigm shift we face. The only advantage to an ever increasing population is that it is good for bussines. An ever growing population is an ever growing market. It keeps wages down and prices up. It keeps the economy growing and an economy that is not growing is not an economy at all.

Now where was I before I drifted off course into that diatribe. Ah yes, Captain Cook was sailing off to meet his grizzly fate. A friend of mine was teaching at a school in Aukland a place much frequented by auks and cook islanders. She innocently asked of her 5th graders ‘what do you know about Captain Cook?’ A little girl, of no more than 8 years old pipped up with ‘ my great great grandfather ate him’

 

Aparently Australia wasn’t always called Australia. When Captain Cook first arrived in his boat, he spied a group of natives involved in some sort of elaborate ceremony involving fire and animal sacrifice. Ignoring the caution of his less intrepid companions he strode purposefully up to them and asked ‘what is the name of this place’ To which the natives replied in surprisingly good English”This is the barbeque area, bro”

Captain Cook promptly claimed all of Barbequearea in the name of the king and returned to England forthwith to tell said king the good news. The king however was not impressed, having delt with cheeky natives before.

‘they are pulling your leg, having a lend of you, taking the piss”. The good Captain was blank with incomprehension till the king said “Jim, they were being faceacious.”

 

Ben Boyang

 

 

 

INVASION DAY

My fellow Australians,

Who the hell are we?

We are one of the most urbanised nations on earth, over 80% of us live in cities and those cities are all on the sea, almost the entire population lives within 50 kilometres of the ocean. That doesn’t include us renegade Castlemainiacs though does it? Yet the ‘quintisential Ozy’ lives in a place called the outback. We call it that because we are all hugging the coast and looking out to sea. At first we were searching for a ship from the motherland, now we scan the horizon for a glimpse of the real world that goes on somewhere beyond the horizon. Meanwhile our alter ego sits tall in the saddle of her magnificent steed, one hand to her sweaty brow, scanning the horizon of the red earth searching for fat cows and lost sheep.

We see ourselves as peace loving, generous, tolerant people yet is that how the world sees us?

The rest of the world sees a country constantly at war. We have been at war with both Iraq and Afganistan for over 7 years now. We here in Sleepy hollow may have forgotten about those wars but I can assure you the people of Iraq and Afganistan have not, nor has anybody else.

The rest of the world sees a nation hell bent on denying asylum to some of the most desperate people on earth, fleeing conflicts half of which we have created, while we debate whether to tow their boats back out to sea and use them for target practice.

The rest of the world sees a nation that treats its Indiginous people like shit. Always has and always will. We may believe we are trying really hard to ameliorate their endless suffering, but the world, I’m afraid, sees only our complete and utter failure, Why do we treat them so? Is it punishment for making us feel guilty?

We are one of the wealthiest nations on earth yet we sit back and watch our nearest neighbour Papua New Guinea descend into barbarism. We attempt to diddle our other neighbour East Timor out of their oil. We turn away Pacific Islanders desperately seeking somewhere to go after their countries disappear under the rising seas. A problem we have helped to create and are unwilling to fix.

Maybe it is time to administer a few drops of Optical Viagra and take a good hard look at our selves.

 

Ben Boyang

Australia Day History

As we all learnt in grade bubs, Invasion day is the day the first batch of convicts arrived on our fair shores. The few members of the invasion party who were not chained up in the hold, ran up the nearest hill, stuck a Union Jack in the ground and proclaimed the entire island now belonged holus bolus, to the king of England.

I don’t think they realised just how big the island really was, and still is. Were the rightful owners of the place consulted in this serious matter? Were they even informed of their newfound status as chattels of King So and So? A rhetorical question, of course.

Some of us in our blissful ignorance however, may not be aware that fateful day of January 26th also commemorates the only coup de tat ever to take place in Australia. In 1808, exactly 20 years to the day after the arrival of the first fleet, a bunch of disgruntled officers from the New South Wales Corp overthrew the government of the fledgling colony. I do not mean to besmirch the good name of the gentlemen involved, but it has been reputed that they were drunk at the time. Not surprising considering that the legal tender of the colony was rum. Giving Australia the dubious distinction of being the only place in the world to employ such a form of currency.

Legend has it that when the said soldiers arrived, singing ribald sea shanties no doubt, Governor Bligh was found cowering under the bed. He was discovered there by one Captain Thomas Laycock no less, a distant relative of mine, I do believe.

 

Of course, that was not the infamous Captain Bligh’s only claim to fame was it now? This is the very same Captain Bligh that, some 20 years previously was set adrift, as depicted so dramatically in ‘Mutiny on the Bounty.’ The story goes that the lads were having a high old time in Tahiti with the local lasses, a welcome relief from their own sore bottoms, when Captain Bligh had the audacity to order the anchors reeled in and the sails set for departure to lands unknown. The lads having by now grown quite fond of their native paramours, and finding their attraction reciprocated, made the very sensible decision to abandon their captain rather than their lovers. Poor captain Bligh was set adrift in a dinghy on the open seas, with only a Yam as sustenance.(though it was purportedly a more than average sized yam) After suffering unspeakable sunburn on an epic journey of over 1500 miles, he arrived at what is now Timor L’Este.

The lads, meanwhile found Pitcairn, an idyllic little island in the middle of nowhere, promptly burnt The Bounty, just in case anyone was having second thoughts, and their they lived happily ever after. I do believe their descendants are still living on the island to this very day, though they have become a little in bred over the years, allowing some rather unsavoury habits to develop, but that is another story.

 

Ben Boyang                                                                  www.binsblog.wordpress.com