Day of Mourning

It was only last week that I learnt that Australia Day has only been celebrated on January 26th since 1994. The public holiday started when I was too young to have any concept of dates and months, let alone public holidays and why they’re there.

The discovery left me quite shocked. I’d always thought it had been celebrated for many decades, and that the date had been picked well before people had any idea about cultural sensitivity. But, no, it was just 1994 — a mere 27 years ago.

In school, we were taught the history of the First Fleet, and Captain Arthur Phillip, and how the British came to Australia. It seemed like there was some logic behind choosing January 26th for Australia Day. But, of course, there’s only so much we are taught when we are really young.

It was probably not until high school that I started learning about the genocide and dispossession.  The history of Australia is nothing short of barbaric, and it seems cruel to celebrate the anniversary of when it all started.

Every year for the last however many years (I’m not sure exactly how many), there have been protests to “change the date”. It is a day of mourning for indigenous Australians, not a day of celebration. And it always seemed strange to me that it was so hard to change the date, but it’s even more strange now that I know how young this public holiday is.

Astounded by my own ignorance, I did some browsing of the internet to see what else I didn’t know. I found this article, which I think is a good summary of essential information: https://clothingthegap.com.au/blogs/blogs/8things-you-need-to-know-about-january-26

Worth a read, especially for anyone who’s got the day off because of the public holiday.

I hate ants

Yes, I hate ants. 

Ok, sure, they have an important ecological role, but I’m still allowed to hate ants, aren’t I?

I wouldn’t wish to eradicate ants from the world, or even from my neighbourhood, but if they are in my home, I must get rid of them.

In Australia, I think it’s inevitable that you will get bugs in your home now and then, no matter how careful you are. It wasn’t until a friend of mine went overseas on exchange for a year that I discovered that not everywhere in the world has ants everywhere. And flies and mosquitos and spiders.

The other creepy crawlies I can kind of understand — I don’t think I ever really expected them to be everywhere. But ants — ants! I thought ants were so ubiquitous that they would be found in and around every corner, city, and country, all over the world.

I think the problem with ants is that there’s never just one or two ants. If you see one, there’s probably masses of them not too far behind. And ants are equal parts foolhardy and cunning. Leave a crumb in the middle of the floor, and they will find it. Sit down at the park to eat lunch, and they will try to eat you.

In primary school, my sister had an ant farm for a while as part of some kind of science experiment. They were fascinating to watch, but it gave me nightmares about ants crawling all over me while I slept. Thankfully the ant farm (and the nightmares) didn’t stay around too long.

I wish I could finish this post on some kind of philosophical platitude, but I can’t really think of how to turn this around, and, besides, I just wanted to write about how much I hate ants.

To be fair (if “fair” is the right word here), I hate other bugs too — mosquitos are always annoying, and wasps are scary.

Thursday Doors – home

Today is Australia Day. I’ve actually scheduled this post ahead of time because I’m expecting to be a bit busy that day (i.e. today). Not working though (surprisingly). I’ll be moving house soon, so I have to pack and make preparations and all that. Also need to think about packing for my upcoming holiday. It’s kind of weird trying to move house and go on holiday at the same time…

Anyway, all that’s probably something for another post (or several posts, depending on how well/badly that goes… The moving house part, of course. The holiday part is probably going to get more posts than anyone’d care to read, regardless of how well/badly it goes.)  Continue reading

rethinking alcohol

For some time now (over the last few months? this year? since last year? not really sure…) I’ve been pondering about the drinking culture in Australia, and reflecting on people’s relationships with alcohol (including my own). You don’t have to be an expert in public health to know that alcohol contributes to a lot of health problems (long- and short-term), and can lead to death. For some time, I’ve been thinking of writing a post about all this, but just kept putting it off. But when I read this post by George at The Off Key of Life, I thought I’d lend my support and do my bit (and basically add my two cents’ worth).

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south for the winter

Alright, here we go… I’ve decided to start my series of holiday-related posts with what was probably the highlight of the trip: Launceston. (Keeping in mind that I’m probably not going to write a post about my cousin’s wedding, since this is not really the sort of place I’d write about it if I did.)

For those of you unfamiliar with Australian geography, Launceston is a town (or small city?) in the state of Tasmania, which is that island at the bottom of Australia, just south of Victoria (which is where Melbourne is). Being the southernmost state, I suppose it is the coldest, and, apart from seeing my friend who lives there, I was probably looking forward to that the most. Well, that, and exploring a place completely new to me.

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why I’m here

Last week I read a rather thought-provoking post on Campari & Sofa about the reasons why people live where they do, and the things that draw people to certain places. (I was going to just leave a comment on that post, but then realised that I couldn’t do so succinctly, and so this post was born.)

I, personally, have not moved a lot in my life – Brisbane has always been my hometown – so I think you could almost say that I’m kind of just here by default. I sometimes feel like a bit of an anomaly in my generation, for various reasons, but no less because I don’t have a strong compulsion to travel. It’s not that I have zero interest in travel and exploring new places – I think that’d be an amazing experience – and it’s not that I don’t have the means or time for travel; but I don’t daydream about it the same way my contemporaries might. And if I’m not dreaming about holidaying in these far-off places, I’m certainly not dreaming about making a long-term move to a foreign country.

Please don’t misunderstand – I’m not xenophobic or otherwise afraid. I think I’m simply … complacent or content. I am also probably just really attached to my hometown and, of course, to the people in it. I’ve always thought that if I had to uproot myself, I’d probably go to Melbourne, a city where a lot of my friends and family already live, and a city that I’ve already visited many times in my life. The only daunting thing is that Melbourne is so much bigger than Brisbane. I generally think Brisbane is a good size: big enough that there are things to do and places to go, but small enough that it’s not overwhelming and it doesn’t take forever to get anywhere.

In my pondering, I also thought of a conversation I had with a taxi driver in Rockhampton on one of my visits. He was perhaps 50 or thereabouts, and I asked him about how long he’s lived in Rocky. (I usually find it easier to make people talk about themselves than to talk about myself.) He told me that he’d actually grown up in Rocky, had moved to Brisbane for work at one point in his life, but then returned to Rocky to settle down. His children had all grown up and moved to bigger cities, but he thought that even Brisbane was too big a city for him.

For those unfamiliar with Australian cities: Brisbane’s population is about 2 million now; Rocky’s is about 115,000, according to Google. In comparison, Melbourne and Sydney have over 4 million people each. On a side note, but kind of related, Google also tells me that the population of Paris is comparable to Brisbane’s, at about 2.2 million. This actually really surprised me until I did a comparison of land area, and found out that Brisbane is more than 50 times the size of Paris. I suppose our suburbs are just really spread out.

If I ever move away from Brisbane, I reckon I’ll eventually end up back in Brisbane, just as my cab driver returned to Rocky. But I don’t think that I’m impulsive enough to pack up and move somewhere on a whim because I’ve fallen in love with a place, so it’d have to be thought-out and practical. And then, if I do move (after so much consideration), it theoretically would not be impossible for me to fall into the same contented complacency with this new city. And then perhaps I wouldn’t return to Brisbane, except to visit the people and places I’ve left behind. (I almost want to move overseas just to test this theory out. Almost.)

I’ve previously discussed with fellow Brisbane-ites the virtues of living where we do, and one point that was raised was that it makes everywhere else in the world seem more magical. This might have been said sarcastically, but it is kind of valid. I mean, if I go on holiday, I want to feel like I’m on holiday, far removed from my usual life. And when I come home, I want it to feel like home.