Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Day in Oz

Well down here in Oz it is “Australia Day”.

Australia Day (The 26th of January) is that day when all us Aussies have a public holiday to remember. What are we remembering?
Well Aussies of non-indigenous ancestry remember the day a guy called Captain Arthur Phillip, led eleven tall ships (which we Aussies call “The First Fleet”) into Sydney Cove and established the first permanent European settlement in Australia.
Aboriginal Australians tend to remember the day the invaders from Europe began most of the problems they are still dealing with today.

Interestingly our approach to this day, our second most important national day (ANZAC Day in April is easily our most important), probably says a lot about us. There are no particular ceremonies or events that we are expected to participate in. Yes there are events like re-enactments of the good captain’s landing at Sydney Cove, and other “patriotic” events around the country.
Sydney Cove Australia day 2008

However, as a whole most of us see the day as an excuse for a relaxed day away from the office (so to speak).

In fact a good number of us, when the day falls on a Tuesday or Thursday see it as a good excuse to “chuck a sickie” and have two days off at the company’s expense. A quick note about Oz English: most Aussies are entitled to some form of paid sick-leave as part of their working conditions; to “chuck a sickie” is to take a day off when you are not sick and claim it as sick-leave.

Of course the inherent risk of a “sickie” is that your boss will turn up on the beach next to you. Excuses like “the doctor told me to get some sun” are not likely to wash in such circumstances.

The head of the Retailers Association, says people who joined the mass sick day so are un-Australian.
I’d have to disagree, one thing most Aussies have had in common since day one is a shared disrespect for both convention and authority. The “sickie” is a time-honoured symbol of that attitude and is probably as “Australian” as almost anything.

In fact one of our former Prime Ministers Bob Hawke, endorsed the "sickie" saying in 1983, "I tell you what, any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum."

Aussies would say the “sickie” is “as Australian as meat pies and Holden cars”. Of course this saying is absurd as the invention of meat pies vastly predates European settlement of Oz, and Holden is a local brand of the American company General Motors.

Judging by the amount of traffic that was not on the road when I was on my way to work yesterday the sickie is alive and well.

As you have all probably had enough of the vagaries of Oz culture, I will say a little about my Australia Day.

As many of you will already know, I take almost any day off as an excuse to get out of the city.

This time we struck a little father afield than usual, driving about two hours to Mansfield in the foothills of the Victorian section of the Australian Alps.

We stopped for a drink break at the war memorial park of a little place called Bonnie Doon.Then we drove on to Mansfield.

This interesting monument stands slap bang in the middle of the main street. Today it was festooned with flags (Australia Day remember). This rather elaborate memorial is to three policemen who: well read the thing for yourselves.I may post about the “Armed Criminals” at a later date so stay tuned.

I am getting a bit carried away, but it is late and I have an early start. I will have to complete my ramble in a further post.

So for now – Goodnight!


Kathleen Jones said...

Interesting post, Al. I was fascinated by the weird, spiral clouds inthe Bonnie Doon pic - almost like smoke rings.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Thanks for sharing "Australia Day". "Canada Day" is July 1st. We don't re-enact anything. We eat cake and wave flags and watch fireworks.

Jenners said...

There are quite a few holidays in America were most people don't do anything but enjoy the day off. For many people, Memorial Day is simply "the start of summer" and Labor Day is "the end of summer."

Lisa said...

I've been known to "chuck a sickie" myself from time to time. I call it a mental health day since I generally need it to recharge my brain so I'll work better.

Al said...

Hi Kathleen,
I am glad you found my post interesting. The cloud was part of the reason I posted that pic. The sky was unusual all day, unfortunately I ran into time constraints or I would have posted more.
Ah well another time.

Hi Elspeth,
In Sydney they have been re-enacting Philip's landing every year since the 1930s It is becoming a tradition in its own right.
We are more likely to have a BBQ than eating cake. Flag waving is definitely getting much more popular here.

Hi Jenners,
I can't see any other compelling reason for a holiday. Put the feet back and party.

Strewth Lisa!
"Chucking sickies", barracking for a team that plays proper footy. If you take to wearing an Akubra no one will ever believe you aren't an Aussie.

Amanda said...

Happy Day! Hope you enjoyed your time off. I love your stories and photos. Thank you!

Mary Anne Gruen said...

I'd love to hear about the "Armed Criminals."

You obviously had a great Australia Day. And did some patriotic site seeing. I'm sure Bob Hawke would be proud of you for not taking a "sickie." LOL But it does sound very Australian the way you put it.

Amanda said...

Hello! I saw this site and immediately thought of you.


I thought the Page to Fame part might be of interest. I just hope you see your book published. Good luck and can't wait to read it!

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Very interesting! I found this post hilarious--particularly the bits about 'sickies'. Glad you enjoyed your day!

Al said...

Hi Amanda,
Thank you! We had a really relaxing day! I am only too happy to share and really pleased to hear you like my efforts. Thank you again!

Hi Mary Anne,
Thanks for dropping by. Thanks also for the feedback. I'll have to keep my promise and post about those crooks soon.
I suppose if I was a more "patriotic" Aussie I would have chucked a sickie myself :)

Hello again Amanda,
What a great site. Thank you for the tip.
Thank you also for the vote of confidence!

Hi Alyssa,
Thank you! I am very pleased to hear you thought this funny. I know from your blog that you have a great sense of humour.