I think it’s fair to say I’m a bit obsessed with all things Native. There’s some sort of strange pride that comes from having survived 3 decades on a continent where even the trees can kill you. Although I adore all wildlife, I see a picture of an American possum, or some exotic turtle and I think to myself “fancy having to look at that every day!?” and then go feed Possum Magic, who is so cute. Ok, so there’s the Tassie Devil, who is pretty ugly, I grant you. Except this dude, who is adorable.
This is sort of lucky, because sometimes, and increasingly, I’m not all together happy with my country. On an overcast and rainy first of Spring, it’s nice to unplug from the news of right wing nut jobs and bigots, racists and class wars, and stick one’s head in the wattle blossoms. I like to think that the former will come and go, but with any luck, the wattles and gums and wildlife will be preserved.
I don’t commemorate ANZAC Day (April 25) whilst we are still aiding military actions in troubled countries for perhaps dubious reasons. Since the Cronulla Riots I’ve refused to participate in Australia Day (January 26). Not that I needed the riots as an excuse, given the Indigenous Mob like to call it “Invasion Day”. They’re not wrong about that. I don’t celebrate the Christian holidays, or even their pagan origins when everyone else is doing it, because the idea of Winter Festivals at Midsummer, and Spring Festivals in Autumn sort of does my head in. One might be forgiven for thinking I’m a proper kill-joy.
I’m actually lovely! Really! And today September 1, is National Wattle Day. Now that’s something I can get behind!
“The Wattle Day Association is a not-for-profit, non-political, non-sectarian organisation incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory. We welcome all who want to join us to promote the celebration of National Wattle Day for all Australians.”
The Wattle Day Association would like to see the day a national holiday, because unlike so many others, the wattle is ours, all of ours, defines our home, the land that binds us together. Yeah, land is sort of awesome like that. I blog about it. Go land!
National Wattle Day – why do we celebrate?
by Terry Fewtrell, President Wattle Day Association Inc.
Wattle is our national floral emblem. It is a symbol that comes directly from our land;
Wattle is Australian and represents us all. Unlike other national days, National Wattle Day excludes no one;
Like our people, wattle has great diversity (with nearly 1,000 species) and resilience;
Wattle welcomes in the spring and is among the first plants to regenerate after fire, reminding us of the importance of renewal as it paints our national colours across our land; and,
Wattle is a unifying symbol for all Australians. There is no other symbol that says so much about us and our land, Australia.Wattle is a symbol of Australia and Australians.
So join the celebration of National Wattle Day – Monday 1 September 2014.
Wattles are everywhere, in ever climate, state, territory, dessert, scrub and street. They’re iconic, so unlike any other. Celebrating our Nationhood through the acknowledgement of the beauty and bounty of our shared home is an awesome idea. Maybe one day we will be as advanced as Bolivia and She will have Constitutional acknowledged Personhood, and rights. I hold out hope.
In the meantime, happy wattle day, good peeps! May our Land bless and keep you!
The Wattle, by Henry Lawson
I saw it in the days gone by,
When the dead girl lay at rest,
And the wattle and the native rose
We placed upon her breast.
I saw it in the long ago
(And I’ve seen strong men die),
And who, to wear the wattle,
Hath better right than I?
I’ve fought it through the world since then,
And seen the best and worst,
But always in the lands of men
I held Australia first.
I wrote for her, I fought for her,
And when at last I lie,
Then who, to wear the wattle, has
A better right than I?
And in the process of writing this, my dear friend on Facebook shared another lovely Lawson number. Though it made me think that some foes are perhaps home-grown.
Waratah and Wattle (1905), by Henry Lawson
Though poor and in trouble I wander alone,
With a rebel cockade in my hat;
Though friends may desert me, and kindred disown,
My country will never do that!
You may sing of the Shamrock, the Thistle, and Rose,
Or the three in a bunch if you will;
But I know of a country that gathered all those,
And I love the great land where the Waratah grows,
And the Wattle-bough blooms on the hill.
Australia! Australia! so fair to behold —
While the blue sky is arching above;
The stranger should never have need to be told,
That the Wattle-bloom means that her heart is of gold,
And the Waratah red blood of love.
Australia! Australia! most beautiful name,
Most kindly and bountiful land;
I would die every death that might save her from shame,
If a black cloud should rise on the strand;
But whatever the quarrel, whoever her foes,
Let them come! Let them come when they will!
Though the struggle be grim, ’tis Australia that knows,
That her children shall fight while the Waratah grows,
And the Wattle blooms out on the hill.