Another Date for Australia Day?
Some people feel that the current date of Australia Day is inappropriate
because it marks the British invasion of Aboriginal Australia and we
should instead hold it on the day that Australians invaded Turkey.
preference would be for September 1st
- Wattle Day. In the years between
Federation and the First World War, wattle took on a deep significance
for many Australians. An enthusiastic naturalist, A. J. Campbell, formed
the Wattle Club in 1899 and his tweed-clad followers would tramp around the
bush and farms ambushing unsuspecting wattle trees and join hands (with the
opposite sex) and chant and sing - the chants and songs are now fortunately
lost to posterity - before denuding said wattle tree so that sprigs could be
distributed to the wattle-less hordes of the city. At news that A. J.
Campbell was in the area, farmers locked their gates and wrote angry letters to the
newspapers in an attempt to save their wattle trees from the naturalists.
A. J. Campbell & his followers celebrating Wattle Day, Werribee Gorge, 1905
Wattle Day was variously celebrated on August 1st
(to suit NSW's Cootamundra Wattle - regarded as a dangerous weed in
September 1st, but more recently the first day of Spring has seemed more
appropriate as a time when wattle is in bloom throughout Oz. (Yes, I
know there are arguments about what is the first day of Spring). Writers
like Henry Lawson and
C J Dennis
celebrated the wattle as a symbol of
Australia at the same time as Canadians were adopting the maple leaf and
New Zealanders the fern.
Sir William Deane’s choice of sprigs of
wattle from his own garden to commemorate the death of young Australians
overseas had added poignancy for those familiar with the significance of
wattle in Australian history. Australia has adopted the green and gold
of the wattle as our national colours, and the wattle has been
celebrated by some of our lesser poets. If my memory serves me correctly
there is a verse that goes something like this:
“Our favourite flower’s the wattle,
The emblem of this land.
stick it in a bottle,
You can ’old it in your ’and.”
Like the Eureka Flag, home grown icons like Wattle
Day are easily hijacked by groups with socio-political agendas aimed
more at dividing Australians rather than uniting them, but that shouldn't
necessarily mean they are surrendered without a murmur.
Yes, I think White Hat would settle for Wattle Day as our national day.
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Hurstbridge Wattle Festival
The festival celebrates Australian heritage, environment and community. To find
out more about the significance of Wattle Day in Australia's history go to
Another Date for
Australia Day. Lots of family activities including steam train rides.