An invisible suitcase of dreams.
Australia Day began cool, cloudy and not beachy, or summery at all, but that did not dampen the spirits of the new citizens, their supporters or the other hundreds of people who turned up at Glenelg Beach for the Australia Day Ceremony.
We’ve heard of this day’s overly nationalistic xenophobic undertones elsewhere. But not here in South Australia, where each new Australian whatever their background or origin was received warmly into their new country and life.
The morning’s highlight was former Vietnamese boat person, now His Excellency Hieu Van Le, Governor of South Australia’s address to the new citizens as he spoke of arriving as a refugee after many perilous adventures on the high seas to Darwin Harbour with only his “invisible suitcase of dreams.” He urged the newcomers not just to maintain their diverse cultures but to share them for the enrichment of all.
The multicultural theme was also prominent in children’s writer, Mem Fox’s slightly cheeky and playful introduction to the Australia Day Awards, given this year to a charity volunteer, the library service, a medical researcher and a school kid who is aiming to make his school self-sufficiently solar powered. All very South Australian. As we have just had local elections, parting gifts to outgoing Council Members and the former Mayor in recognition of their civic contribution were, for me, a pleasant surprise and a quaint, highly civilised act of democracy.
Later in the day, a picnic in one of Adelaide’s beautiful parks which surround the city centre, with friends and family whilst listening to radio station Triple J’s “Hottest One Hundred,” the 100 most popular songs (excluding Taylor Swift) of 2014. The radio party continued at home into the evening as the sun finally broke free of its shackles and ended the day with a golden glow and the sounds of Chet Faker. The Lucky Country still felt lucky.
See also 178th Proclamation Day.