That’s the first verse to our national anthem. I remember when it was first introduced to replace God Save the Queen how we laughed and laughed at the word ‘girt’.
For some reason, just about everyone I know thought that word was hilarious. And this is one of the reasons I love being an Aussie.
Our irreverence for just about everything – except the footie (and maybe cricket for some) makes me smile.
Some of us will always see the funny/silly side in everything. We like to ‘take the Mickey’ (that means to send up) out of anything too serious.
In honour of Australia Day (January 26) I’m sharing what it means to me to be Australian.
For the record, I wasn’t born here. I arrived at this magnificent island when I was four years old.
I spent a few of my adolescent years living overseas and finally told my mother I wanted to go ‘home’. We had moved around so much she wasn’t sure what I meant and asked; “Where’s home?”
I looked at her like she was crazy and said “Australia”. It’s always been home to me.
I love the drama that nature plays out in this ‘sunburnt country’. Floods and freezing temperatures one season, followed by drought and shimmering heat the next.
There is a sad side to this – the farmers who can barely cope with the chaotic weather conditions, the many who have lost homes to floods and fires.
But the sad side always illuminates the heroes among us, and there are many in this country.
Most Aussies love to help out a mate, even if that ‘mate’ is a complete stranger.
The beautiful stories of kindness and generosity that come out whenever there is a natural disaster (and we have our fair share of those) are heart-warming.
During October 2013, 58 bushfires were burning at one stage in New South Wales – one very close to my home.
Described as the worst natural disaster in Blue Mountains history, 185 homes were lost in the towns of Springwood, Winmalee and Yellow Rock and another 132 damaged.
Those who still had houses put signs outside their front doors offering use of their bathrooms, cups of coffee, and free hugs for those who needed them.
Others offered use of their rental properties, donations of clothes, furniture and appliances and some even gave away cars to those who had lost everything.
Many of the local businesses offered free food and coffee to the firemen, many of whom were volunteers, risking their lives to save others and their properties.
Sure, we have our share of lawbreakers, unkind people, and racists.
These are countered by wonderful people such as the train passenger who began the I’ll ride with you campaign when a fellow traveller started to remove her hijab in fear after an attack at a Sydney café.
She posted her story and soon had thousands of people offering to ride with Muslim Australians who feared the café terror attack would incite the haters.
Alongside this kindness is an amazing generosity. During the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004, which killed more than 230,000 people in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand, Australians gave more per capita than any other nation.
More than one-third of Australians over the age of 15 volunteer their time in some capacity to help others.
G’DAY, HOPE YOUR ARVO IS A RIPPER
(OR, GOOD DAY, I HOPE YOU HAVE A LOVELY AFTERNOON)
Then there is the loveable larrikin aspect – the side of Aussies that expect a ‘fair go’, have respect and compassion for the “Aussie battler” (someone who is struggling, usually financially) and who rejoice in being politically incorrect and having a laugh at anything.
We will be quick to tell you when you are ‘off your rocker’ (crazy), being a sook (over-sensitive and negative) and to stop your whinging (whining).
We will be equally quick to lend a sympathetic ear when needed, then pat you on the back and tell you “She’ll be right, mate”.
If you have red hair, chances are your mates will call you “Bluey”. Aussies are big on shortening names for things so a tradesman becomes a tradie, a barbeque is a barbie, a mosquito is a mozzie and a sick day is a sickie.
Sometimes we’ll end our shortened versions in ‘o’ – garbage man = garbo, milkman = milko, musician = muso, ambulance = ambo, service station = servo. Sometimes we just need to add an ‘o’ – righto and goodo.
We will ‘arc up’ (get angry) pretty quickly if we believe someone isn’t getting a fair go or if something isn’t fair dinkum (genuine). Or if you’re telling a porkie – that’s short for pork pie which rhymes with a lie.
We might tell you not to ‘spit the dummy’ (get so upset) and if you are behaving foolishly, chances are we will call you a drongo.
If you are crook (sick) you might chunder (vomit) but hopefully not cark it (die).
We often tell our ankle biters (small children) to pipe down (be quiet).
Don’t be fooled by our silly side. Some of the world’s best inventions, including the black box flight recorder, cochlear implant, and electric drill have occurred in this country because of smart Aussies.
As for medical advances, Australian researchers are among the best.
In the 1940s an Adelaide scientist developed the way for penicillin to be manufactured and processed to treat infections in humans.
Howard Florey’s work has saved millions of lives worldwide.
It was an Australian who developed the first bionic ear and an Australian who developed the ultrasound so that unborn babies could be seen.
I LOVE A SUNBURNT COUNTRY
There is so much more than the people to love about this country.
I love the colours of our wonderful landscape, the rich red earth, the brilliant blue sky.
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me!
I love our wildlife. About 90 percent of all animals native to Australia’s are found nowhere else, including kangaroos, dingos, wombats, echidnas, platypuses and koalas.
And our amazing birds – Australia, the land of parrots and honeyeaters.
There were 898 recorded bird species in Australia as of 2014.
Almost all cockatoos are Australian and no other continent other than South America has as many parrots.
Australia could be the birthplace of all of the world’s songbirds.
I love our beaches. Did you know Australia has more than 10,000 beaches? You could visit a new beach every day for 27 years without even leaving the country.
I also love meat pies, Vegemite, Tim Tams, and our wonderful wine. Oh, and fish and chips at the beach and sausage sangers (sandwiches) outside Bunnings Warehouse on weekends.
And our amazing flora.
I love the beautiful bush.
But I also love our wonderful cities.
I love our multiculturalism and our art – particularly the Indigenous people’s art. I love our poetry. We have produced wonderful poets such as Banjo Patterson, Henry Lawson and one of my favourites, Les Murray.
Oh, and I love our music! I love listening to the words of Paul Kelly, Jimmy Barnes, Men at Work, Cold Chisel, INXS, The Living End, Hunters and Collectors, Midnight Oil, The Church, AC/DC….the list goes on.
As for our anthem. Some of us are still smirking at that word ‘girt’ and most of us don’t know the second verse.
This is a shame as there is a line in there that would be good for some to remember.
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share
But one thing is certain, we all love our country and are fiercely proud to be Aussies.
Happy Australia Day. Good on ya, mate.
Have a gleeful week, hope it’s a corker (excellent), Tamuria.