How To: Celebrate Australia Day

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We are jetlagged and happy to be back home from an incredible three weeks spent in Europe.  Before we give you some European inspiration, we need to get straight to the point…

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26th January, Australia Day, is our favourite day of the year.  It is BIG in Australia, a much bigger celebration than New Year’s Eve.  Why?  Because we love our country.  Sun, surf, sand, and hardworking, laid-back, friendly people with great attitudes and lots of smiles……What’s not to love?  And our country is so beautiful it takes your breath away…  So much diversity, so big.

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So, how to celebrate Australia Day?  Here are some of the things that we do to celebrate:

  • Have an Australia Day party with mates and family.  It can go all day, starting all in the morning and finishing early the next morning.  That is no worries.  Make sure that there is plenty of food and drinks for everyone.
  • Drink Beer.  Australian beers are great to try.  On this day it’s ok to drink a little more than you would otherwise because… it’s what we do.
  • Remember the original owners of this land.  Remembering Aboriginals as the original owners of this land is important to us, recognising that they looked after this land for many tens of thousands of years before we arrived — just over 200 years ago.
  • Have a barbie in the backyard with all your mates.  This is what we all do.  But please don’t put shrimps on the barbie.  We call them prawns….. and we don’t cook them on the barbie.  We cook lamb (Australia is full of sheep) and sausages.  A typical Aussie barbie goes for hours and everyone brings their own meat and a salad to share.  The men cook the meat and the women fuss over the salads and bread.  When it’s time to eat, all the salads are put onto  a table and the meat is piled up on a platter, and everyone fills their plates.  There is a lot of food as there would be nothing worse than not having enough.  I’m not sure why, but at an Aussie barbie, usually the women and men socialise separately.  Probably because the men talk about the cricket and footy while the women talk about other things.  When I’ve taken people from overseas to Aussie barbies they usually find this really weird, but to us it’s so normal that we barely notice it.  Beers are a must at an Aussie barbie.  Men stand around the barbie drinking.  Women might drink wine instead of beer.  But the beer never runs out.

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  • Go for a swim at the beach.  We all do.  The weather over here has been as hot as hell (we were lucky to have missed 47 degrees celcius in Perth by being in London).  Because we have so much sun and a massive hole over the Ozone layer, we go for a swim and a boogey board in the early morning for an hour or so and then again in the evening.  Australians (particularly those on the West Coast) don’t go to the beach for the whole day.  It’s too hot and you just get burnt and dehydrated.  While you’re at the beach.  Don’t forget to make a sandcastle.
  • Eat lamingtons.  Lamingtons are gorgeous little squares of vanilla sponge cake, dipped in chocolate and coated in coconut flakes.  We grew up on lamingtons, our grandmas had a plate of them waiting for us when we visited.  They are delicious and melt in your mouth.  Usually it is so hot that the chocolate melts all over your fingers making a big mess.  Yes, they are a must for Australia Day.
  • Eat pavlova.  Pavlova is a meringue pie, covered with cream and usually topped with fruit.  Once again this is a very sweet and sugary dessert.  It is so good.   We often put strawberries on top because the tartness of the berries counteracts the sickly sweetness of the meringue and it is delicious.  We eat pavlova at a lot of our celebrations and the person who makes the pav is pretty popular with everyone.
  • Listen to Australian music.  Some radio stations play 24 hours of the best Aussie music of all time.  We listen iconic musicians like Jimmy Barnes, Cold Chisel, INXS, Crowded House and even Kylie.

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  • Watch fireworks.   In Perth we have a huge fireworks display over the Swan River, and a few hundred thousand people line up along the river to watch them as the sun goes down.  It’s spectacular.  We bring picnics, drinks.  We tend to go together in big groups and make a whole day of it.  You will find people setting themselves up on the banks of the Swan River from the early morning until late at night.  Many people bring cricket bats and have a game of cricket with their mates.  We bring big eskies full of food and drinks, sunscreen, blankets to sit on and fold up chairs.  In Perth, many people now catch the train to the event or even ride bikes.  It’s one very hot day so if you are going remember to wear a hat, sunscreen up like nothing else and drink water, then some more.

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Have a wonderful Australia Day! If you are not in Australia, feel free to celebrate still. If you have Aussie friends, they are sure to be homesick on this day. Why not take them beers, mates and have a barbie, while listening to loud music and getting rowdy? Enjoy! We will be back with more European inspiration in the next few days.

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