Australia Day – More lamb, fewer flags!


As Australia Day looms yet again, Sam Kekovich desperately searches for new ways to encourage us to eat lamb, to revisit our settler origins. Remember when we were taught that our nation was founded on the sheep’s back? Bit of a dilemma here, we must celebrate Australia day with a barbecue. For many Aussies this is the simple act of chucking a couple of snags on the barbie and then tucking them in a nondescript bun slathered in tomato sauce. Most of these sausages won’t be made of lamb. Some families will cook whole legs of lamb in the Weber.

Few will perform the act of social death I performed while living in WA’s Pilbara the wild west of the Wild West. Invited to a barbecue where I was asked to bring my own meat (another rant required here) I committed the unspeakably poncy act of arriving with tandoori-marinated lamb fillets. I should of course have realised that I had evoked the twin sins of urban pretension and multiculturalism.

I’m prepared to go along with Sam. I’m even prepared, in fact dedicated, to buying this lamb from my local butcher, not the supermarket. Sausages, if made from lamb, will no doubt include intrusive ingredients like rosemary, rosemary for remembrance – very Australian.

So we will eat lamb chops, which I always marinate in a combo of soya sauce, honey wine and oil.

Being a food-centric person who arrived here as a small migrant child, I wonder, how should Australia be celebrated, and what is it we are celebrating? A barbecue is a very apt way to celebrate settler Australia’s birthday.

My tone may appear cynical but Australia day has a special meaning for me. It’s the day my family sailed into Sydney Harbour on a rusty old ship’s last voyage. A glorious summer day the harbour was crammed full of boats, a dazzling first sight of my new home, love at first sight in fact.

School taught me a sanitized account of the first encounters with Indigenous Australia. No one told us of terra nullius, no “black armband” views of Australia back then. Rather we were taught to see ourselves as a nation of rugged individuals.

So from where on earth has the flag-waving rabble emerged?

images Never mind, do we need a better one?

I am still surprised by everyday vehicles displaying fluttering flags, two in some cases as though they represent the government in some official way. No it isn’t the governor general, it’s some fool who has been watching too much American TV. I’m moved to road rage at the site of these flag wavers, do they drink bourbon and tie yellow ribbons round the old oak tree? The Australian flag used to be kept for public offices, schools etcetera, not as the latest garden accessory.

When, in case of emergency, many Australian children believe you ring 911, isn’t it time to call a halt to the increasing Americanisation of our culture?

As I sip a coffee at a local shopping mall I see a woman hidden by the outsized flag emerging from her trolley. Visions of the flag-cloaked violence of Cronulla are invoked. I want to shout at her, but what would I say? Perhaps I’d suggest she put another lamb chop on the barbecue. Best not tell her where to put her flag.