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Australia Day

Australia Day is celebrated on January 26 and bonus, it’s a public holiday.  Normally we spend the day with family or friends or even both, enjoying a traditional Australian lunch of lamb and snags cooked on the barbie with pavlova for dessert.

A stunning backdrop for becoming a citizen

A stunning backdrop for becoming a citizen

But this Australia Day was different because Alfie was asked to sing in a School’s Choir where they would perform at the Lord Mayor’s Citizenship Ceremony on a point of the harbour sandwiched between the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.

Heading into the city

Heading into the city

We were up early and taking the advice of the weather bureau that predicted rain, rain and more rain, we armed ourselves with umbrellas and took a ferry into Circular Quay.  It was 9am but already the Quay was crowded.  And sunny – brilliantly so.  We used our umbrellas as parasols and bought sunscreen from some burglar who was charging triple the normal price.  Never mind – it’s Australia Day.  Volunteers were walking the streets handing out complimentary flags and hats.  I was so pleased to be given a hat as without it I would have fried.

Tall ships

Tall ships


Thirty people from every corner of the globe including Syria, Brazil, Ireland, Zimbabwe and Iran were becoming Australian citizens that day.  They and their families were given special seating, the choir stood beside them, and the rest of us were put behind a barrier where we had to stand.  Never mind – it’s Australia Day.

Heading to the stage

Heading to the stage

While we waited for the ceremony to begin, Australia’s latest addition to its naval fleet, the HMAS Adelaide, anchored between us and the Opera House.

Celebrating Australia Day

Celebrating Australia Day

The ceremony was opened by an Aboriginal elder from the Gadigal Tribe of the Eora Nation, the place we now call Sydney.  The elder’s name is Max and it’s polite to call an Elder, ‘Uncle’, so he was introduced as Uncle Max.  Uncle Max said a lovely speech of how we are all the same; we all breath the same air, we drink the same water, we swim in the same sea.  He said we need to concentrate our efforts on being united; we can’t change the past, but we can improve the future.  I thought that was very forgiving, gracious and welcoming.

Getting ready to be on perform

Getting ready to be on perform

After Uncle Max spoke, there were speeches from the Lord Mayer and State and Federal politicians.  While they were speaking, a few aborigines who had arrived with Uncle Max started preparing for a smoke ceremony.  A fire was started by rubbing together two sticks and all the children in the choir had been invited to bring a leaf from their home to put on the fire.  It is believed the smoke cleanses the area from where the leaves have come.

Singing

Singing

Then there was the citizenship ceremony where each person was introduced and we were told a bit about them and why they wanted to become Australian.  They were then ushered into seats where they could watch the choir perform.

The Choir

The Choir

The choir performed three songs with the backing music coming from the HMAS Adelaide.  The first song was in an Aboriginal language and I’m told it was about watching the sun set and seeing as it set, how it looked like a waratah; a native flower and the State flower of NSW.

The little guy with Uncle Max

The little guy with Uncle Max

Next they sang We Are Australian, a song that many think should be our national anthem.  And the choir’s final song was Advance Australia Fair and we all stood and joined in.

The man who can light fire with sticks

The man who can light fire with sticks

After the singing there was a 21-gun salute followed by a fly-over by the Australian airforce.  The official proceedings complete, it was now time to mingle.  This was when Uncle Max and the man who created fire by rubbing together two sticks were overjoyed when I asked if my son could have their photo taken with them.

A yacht covered in Australian flags

A yacht covered in Australian flags

By this stage we’d been out in the scorching sun for around three hours and we were sweaty, sunburnt and thirsty.  We made our way back through the crowds to the ferry terminal and headed for home.

Heading home

Heading home

With plenty of sunshine still left in the day, we then took Alfie and one of his mates out on the boat for a bit of swimming and tubing.  After jostling the crowds it was wonderful to have a bit of space around us and after being in the heat, fabulous to be able to swim in the sea.

Pretty excited

Enjoying Australia Day

Arriving back home at around 7pm, there was no traditional Aussie barbie underway, however, I didn’t feel like anything was missing from the day; our son had performed in front of thousands of people, we’d met some beautiful aboriginal people, we’d been front and centre at some of the day’s best events, and then we’d relaxed on the water on Sydney Harbour.  It was a fabulous way to spend Australia Day.

A time to relax

A time to relax

Comments

  1. How wonderful, Charlie!

  2. It sounds like a wonderful event. How amazing for the new Australians to be given such individual attention. Your day sounds amazing if a little hot, with fabulous views and a rousing reminder of patriotism. I wonder if your national anthem will change, there’s talk of it changing here. GG

  3. What a beautifully inclusive ceremony – I bet it was pretty moving too. We had an Aussie BBQ here in the freezing cold but we drank lots of Australian sparkling and red wine and got into the spirit of the day. Sydney is always so beautiful – we are a lucky country.

  4. Mary Galea says:

    I don’t celebrate Australia Day as such (won’t go into my political reasons here!! lol), but as a local Rotarian, I was out at 6am setting up the bbq for a community breakfast of bacon, sausages and eggs with tea, coffee and OJ we do every year for $5 for our local council’s Citizenship Ceremony. It was relaxed, informal and lovely to see 8 people from several countries in their national dress, taking their oath of allegiance to our beautiful country. It was also great seeing our local Citizens of the Year be presented with awards for doing the most wonderful things in our community. Several people in the crowd celebrate their birthdays that day, so there is always a rendition of happy birthday to them. To top it off, the weather was just about perfect, which I think it was over most of the country. Yes, although I don’t celebrate the day, I love the occasion and the bringing together of local people for recognition and celebration.

  5. It looks and sounds like you had a great Day, happy Australia Day! We were just talking about the beautiful ceremony to become a citizen of your chosen country, as an automatic citizen, I’ve never been to one. It’s a very moving ceremony even though we don’t have choirs sing or even brand new naval vessels in the background celebrating. It’s so touching that an aboriginal leader spoke some encouraging words. I doubt our aboriginal leaders would participate like that but then again, I’ve mender been to one.
    We have highway-robber water venders at public events, often charging in excess of $6 for a bottle of water they clearly paid less than $0.10 for!

  6. It looks and sounds like you had a great Day, happy Australia Day! We were just talking about the beautiful ceremony to become a citizen of your chosen country, as an automatic citizen, I’ve never been to one. It’s a very moving ceremony even though we don’t have choirs sing or even brand new naval vessels in the background celebrating. It’s so touching that an aboriginal leader spoke some encouraging words. I doubt our aboriginal leaders would participate like that but then again, I’ve never been to one.
    We have highway-robber water venders at public events, often charging in excess of $6 for a bottle of water they clearly paid less than $0.10 for!

  7. Happy Australia Day! What a fabulous event.

  8. Happy Australia Day to you all!

    Congratulations to Alfie for the 3 songs and the great pics with Uncle Max and the man who can make fire with sticks.

  9. Another important day of memory making for the Little Guy. I hope the day was as lovely as it sounds–in spite of overcharges!

  10. So great that Alfie got to sing in front of such a big important crowd. Talented little fella!

  11. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    Sounds like a marvelous day. So interesting, the Aboriginal smoke ceremony, etc. Thanks for sharing this.

  12. You are always where the action is Charlie. Sounds like a great day. Pity you didn’t get dinner cooked for you 🙁

  13. What a nice way to spend the holiday (minus the sunburn and highway robbery sunscreen). Great family time!

  14. What an incredible experience!! Uncle Max sounds like such a lovely man. 🙂

  15. What a co-incidence. I was just reading about uncle max. Apparently he is at every ceremony and event going. He is The Man! What a marvellous day you had. A bit hot maybe though :). I think we need to change Australia Day to another day and for another reason. One day….

  16. What an interesting Australia Day – I love the photo at the top – truly spectacular. It sounds like you had a proper Welcome to Country – I wish we were able to have them more often at events as it is fantastic to hear Aboriginal stories. And that is interesting that you mention how there is a move to have We are Australia as national anthem – haven’t heard that but it made me look up the lyrics – I could imagine it would be easy to learn the chorus and much harder to learn all those verses – fantastic song. Bet you had a long cold drink when you got home.

  17. What a special day! I love the photos of Alfie with Uncle Max. I’m sure you had something to do with that. 🙂 This sounds like a very special way to spend Australia Day. I like the way so much is made of the a special ceremony welcoming new citizens. There is so much controversy these days about the role of refugees looking for a new life, and I think that when people go through the rigors of becoming citizens in a new country it is worthy of great celebration once the steps are secure. I’ve attended one such ceremony a few years ago. My brother-in-law emigrated from Wales and married my husband’s sister. He received his citizenship two days after she died from Cancer. That was one very emotional ceremony, but I was very moved by the number of people who had worked hard to become Americans. Australia Day would be a very moving experience for its new citizens. I’m glad you were a part of it.

  18. What a lovely day. Uncle Max sounds very gracious and wise. And to be on the harbour on Australia Day is a great idea.

  19. What an amazing day, Charlie!! And such beautiful pictures to remember this great holiday 🙂

  20. Great post! Please tell me what snags are?!!

  21. Hi Charlie, sounds like an amazing day and event. You must be so proud of Alfie, he sounds like an amazing little guy. The water pics are so beautiful, what a wonderful place to be part of.

  22. Dear Charlie,
    Thank you so much for sharing your Australia Day festivities with us. I find it so interesting to learn about holidays throughout the world and how they are celebrated. I smiled to myself when you mentioned the new Australian citizens and the elders participation in the days event.

    I was under the impression that Austrlia Day was more of a political day of events and now I have learned that it is a combination of many things.

    You must be so proud of your son for being a part of the day. I’m sure you were also happy to get out of the sun and enjoy a cool drink and swim:)

    Thanks again for sharing, Charlie…I learned so much:) Happy Australia Day!!!

  23. What a memorable Australia Day – well done to Alfie and it sounds like the celebrations were thoughtful and very well done. I’m glad you got some sunshine too, even if perhaps it was a bit too much at times!

  24. Sounds like a terrific Australia Day – except for the part about the entrepreneurial sunscreen vendors!

  25. I know I am late, but Happy Australia Day Charlie. 🙂 Looked amazing and you were hanging with ol mate Uncle Max too. I grew up in a small country town in central NSW, even went to a mission pre-school for years, my brother and I (the only white kids) loved hanging out with the elders, especially on Australia Day. 🙂 I am going to add Sydney Harbour to my list of places to be on Aus Day, looked amazing.

  26. What an interesting celebration! I, too, am late in wishing a Happy Australia Day! It looks like you had a wonderful day and how great that Alfie was part of the show.

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