I put out a challenge to members of my family to let me know how they spent their Australia Day and what the day meant to them. My cousin Lynette sent this reply and to be honest, I was so moved that I thought it worthy of an entry all on it’s own. Thankyou Lynette for sharing, so beautifully, what Australia Day means to you.
This is how Lynette Gleeson nee: Di Salvia spent her Australia Day and what the day means to her:
I am, You Are, We Are Australian
In the words of Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton, “I am, you are, we are Australian”. Australian – a title I hold dear, recognizing the unity and diversity of our great nation.
Australia Day in Narrandera is always jammed pack with activities and for me it began in Narrandera Park where earlier some of the community had purchased a cooked breakfast from the Lions Club.
Harold and I arrived as the Australia Day Orchestra and Choir were warming up for the community ceremony of celebration and thanksgiving. Australian flags, stick on flag tattoos and programs were being distributed amongst the large crowd that was gathering under the towering trees in our lovely park.
This is time when we as a community come together to be inspired, celebrate our past, our present and look to the future. It’s a time of recognition those who have made great commitments to the Shire in its people. Groups and individuals who have quietly worked hard and given so much to the community to make life better for us all. It’s a time the thank God for this great country, for the beauty in His creation, for those who have gone before us, for our democracy and for the freedom we share through many giving their lives for us in war.
Narrandera is Wiradjuri country and their language has been revived by our friend Stan Grant senior and is being taught in our schools. A young indigenous high school student gave a “Welcome to Country”.
The orchestra and choir were magical as they sang those songs that make our emotions rise like “We are Australian”, “I Still Call Australia Home” and the great words of our National Anthem “Advance Australia Fair”.
Turia Pitt was Narrandera’s official Australia Day Ambassador and what an inspirational example of overcoming a tragic incident only just over 3 years ago. Turia has a double degree with honours in Mining Engineering and Science. She worked as a model before landing her dream job with Rio Tinto at their prestigious Argyle Diamond Mine and moving to Kununurra with her partner, Michael (who incidentally formerly lived in Narrandera). Their lives were turned upside-down when she was trapped by a grass fire in a 100 kilometre ultra-marathon in September 2011 in remote Western Australia, and suffered burns to 65 per cent of her body. She spoke of her love for Michael and his love for her getting her through these hideous injuries that, if living in a developing country, she would not be alive to talk about it.
The theme of love continued through the ceremony with the Bible reading being from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
The SDA pastor spoke about love being the glue that holds us together, as a community and a family. My brother, Barry, then led everyone in prayer.
So many in the crowd expressed “that it was the best Australia Day Ceremony ever”.
The celebrations for the town didn’t end there. Further fun could be had at the traditional yabby race at Narrandera Pub, music and water activities at the pool, a homemade raft race at Lake Talbot. There were also events in the outlying villages of Grong Grong and Barellan.
It has become a “new tradition” of having friends home for morning tea. Devonshire scones were served to seven of our good friends, one being Narrandera born and breed and attaining 90 years of age, down to new imports of ten years.
The afternoon and evening were spent watching the Aussie cricketers making a wobbly 217 and seeing a thrilling end with the Poms being bowled out on the third last ball with only 6 runs to get. What a great way to end our national day! They might have sent some of our founding citizens here in chains but they weren’t going to hold us captive now!
I look forward to the day
when all the population of this great nation
will come together and proudly say
“I am Australian”.
Voices From the Heart
Voices from the Heart,
Whispers through the gums,
Laughter in the dry creek bed,
This land it is my home.
Murmuring snaking rivers
Wander this brown land
Share the living legends,
More abundant than the sand.
The Rock rises from the flatness,
The Chasm reflects the rays,
The Ghost Gums guard the dawning
Of yet another day.
Great constellation, Southern Cross,
Sentinel of silence.
Endless sky of azure blue,
Sunrise, sunset of every hue.
Scorching summer heat,
Glistening pristine snow,
Blue haze upon the mountains,
At sea cruel tempest blow.
Swaying fragrant golden wattle,
Screeching spirited cockatoo,
Lustrous ruby waratah,
Vaulting big red kangaroo.
Richness in its colour,
Aroma of the bush,
Crashing on the ocean’s shore,
Rain forests, green and lush.
This land has left its imprint
Within my heart and soul
Etched in there forever,
Voices… laughter… whispers…
murmurs… silence… pure gold.