Whilst some Australia Day events were greeted with “invasion day” protests in the major cities (including a peaceful one in Adelaide), here in Glenelg we welcomed the newest Australians into the community and honoured the achievements of local residents in a ceremony that celebrated the modern multi-cultural Australia.
On 26 January 1788 the “First Fleet” carrying British military personnel and convicts landed at Sydney Cove to establish a new colony on the eastern seaboard of what was called New Holland. This was their second attempt, having deemed Botany Bay unsuitable a few days earlier before being trapped in the bay by a storm, which also served to keep the nearby French ships out. You might say that European colonisation or invasion was historically inevitable although the conduct of some colonists was not. Or again you might not. The colony itself was not formally proclaimed for the British crown until 8 February 1788.
This year’s Australia Day event in Glenelg took place on the foreshore on an achingly idyllic morning of calm sea and the bluest of skies – a perfect metaphor for those from seventeen diverse countries taking their citizenship oaths and receiving that all important emu and kangaroo crested parchment. It was fitting that the greatest cheers of the day were reserved for our new citizens, despite the presentation of the keys to the City of Holdfast Bay to Olympic gold medallist swimmer Kyle Chalmers. As well as the warm reception for an undoubted international sporting hero, local heroes and heroines were rewarded for their more unsung efforts to better the community and improve the lives of others.
Later in the day, if you weren’t protesting, you were quite possibly either at the beach, having a backyard barbecue, watching cricket in the pub, eating lamb accompanied by a South Australian red, or listening to national radio station Triple J’s Hottest 100. In a poll dominated by Australian artists and with a significant number emerging from the station’s “Unearthed” programme of new and undiscovered talent, the eventual winner was DJ/Producer Flume.
Another Australia Day, and whilst the national debate continues about the appropriate day to commemorate Australian-ness or even what it means to be Australian, in this council district eighty five new citizens are very happy that they are.