On the 26th of January many Australians celebrate a nationwide public holiday, Australia Day.
This public holiday commemorates the anniversary of the first fleet of British ships to land on the east coast of Australia in 1788.
As a tourist, Australia Day looks widely celebrated, with family and friends coming together to celebrate their wonderful land. A land full of opportunity, vistas and sunshine.
Local to where I am staying in NSW, it is customary to float along the Murray River on this day, often towing along an Esky (cool box) full of beer and getting pissed on the way! Following the Murray River a few miles from Mungabeena Reserve to Noreuil Park in Albury, the mode of transport can be anything from a pink inflatable swan to a simple body-board. The flotation devices are often tied together so a family or group of friends travel together. Celebrations continue on arrival at the park foreshore. It’s a fab activity for mid-summer, where temperatures have been 40°C+ on and off for the past month.
Alas, there is a dark side to this day, resulting in a growing movement to remove this public holiday, on this date, from the calendar. With demonstrations being held across Australia. And for good reason. The indigenous people suffered horrific atrocities at the hands of the white man when they invaded their beloved land. They consider this day a day of mourning.
Over 200 years have gone by since the first landing. The government has apologised to the Aboriginal people. Reparations are being made. I wonder if making one last conciliatory gesture, to change the date of Australia Day is too much to ask?
The government insist that no change will be made, I will watch with interest!