Service Game


Well, I don’t usually have anything much to do with Australia Day. Mainly I suppose for historical reasons – growing up in Western Australia there was little interest in celebrating the discovery of NSW by that Jamey Come Lately (long after William Dampier and Dirk Hartog in the west) Captain Cook, or its founding by Arthur Phillip. But in any case, nowhere was much of a big deal made about Australia Day until recent years. Maybe small local events, a citizenship ceremony perhaps, a backyard barbecue with friends, but that was about it. No Jingoism please, we’re Aussie.

But then suddenly the jingoism appeared, whipped up by politicians and the media, and suddenly every 26 January the streets seemed full of cars with flags on radio aerials, the paths blocked by people with flag capes, the parks full of bouncy castles, sausage sizzles and even more tuneless renditions of our already tuneless national anthem, and the shock jocks were dividing the country into two kinds of people – those who riotously and drunkenly celebrated Australia Day, and Un-Australians.

So I stayed away, more than a little embarrassed.

Until this year when an out of the blue (true blue) phone call told me I was getting an Australia Day Community Service Award in our nearest country town. So, off I went, a little celebration of first steroid-free day this cycle.

And it was ok. Yes, sausage sizzle. And yes, national anthem. And, yes, ok, bouncy castle. But it was all somehow subsumed under a blue sky. Politicians gave brief and not too embarrassing speeches, so did a couple of religious guys. But mostly it was about welcoming four New Australians, smilingly clutching citizenship certificates and Callistemons in pots. And especially about recognising and praising the community servers.

The high school girl, top of all her classes and volunteer in all kinds of activities; the teacher who has taught generations of children in a small country school for 35 years; the firefighter chief; the fifty year Rotary organiser; the community radio lady; the touch football organisers; the arts organiser; the newspaper that had organised bushfire information, and so on. All the warp and woof of the tapestry of country town life. People happy, proud, photos being snapped by relatives, applause being clapped under the shade of trees. Not a yobbo in sight.

It was, in fact, just quietly, between you and me, a bit of alright. Couldn’t have been done better in fact, but probably being done in similar style in many country towns around the nation.

So here I am, getting my certificate.

And here are all of us (me in hat now to prevent my naked head evaporating in the sizzling Sun, hot enough to cook a sausage).
Not bad sorts, eh?

13 comments on “Service Game

  1. linsarmel says:

    Dear David
    The warmest congratulations on your Community Award for Australia Day! Good blokes like you should be recognised! And contributing to the Community is one of the most important endeavours.


  2. NannaHannah says:

    He Melon, That’s great. Congratulations.
    Over here in the East (Vic) we never celebrated Australia Day either until the last five/ten. It was a public holiday. That’s all. If there were any ‘doings’ in my home village, I didn’t know about it. But then, all the kids were in the river whooping it up anyway.
    Glad you enjoyed your award celebration today. Way to go!


  3. Geoff Andrews says:

    So, Captain Cook has something to do with Australia Day, does he?
    Sorry David – someone had to point it out to you. And don’t try to plead that you were just checking if we were paying attention.
    Congrats on the other thing, though.


  4. David, we are as one where public displays of grossly over-emotive national boosterism is concerned. Best left to Kipling, by jingo. Great to hear you got an award (the best sort, the local variety) and that the sausage sizzle turned out well. You looked good in the hat! Stay that way. Read you next time :)


  5. Oh David. I am so happy for you. Well done!!!!!


  6. Alan Phillips says:

    Yes, there are some redeeming features in this sort of gee-up nationalism. And how about the new suggested flag as shown on the ABC? Even though I hate flags more than anthems, if we must have one I think this one leaves the old one for dead.


  7. Graeme says:



  8. roshart1 says:

    If I could, I’d give you an award for being our very own and dearly-beloved @watermelon_man. But as I can’t, my sincere congratulations on this one that you did get.


  9. Buff McMenis says:

    I steal from John Williamson but … you’re True Blue, mate! A real Aussie. Congratulations.


  10. fairlycirrus says:

    Well done David/WMM! So glad to hear you enjoyed the day. And, yes, small country towns seem to do this kind of thing best. I live in a small country town. I still can’t bring myself to go to one of these ‘dos’ which I, too, have always thought of as jingoistic and self-congratulatory when there was often too little about which I thought we should be feeling proud. That’s especially been the case since I spent years supporting incarcerated asylum seekers.
    The flag thing REALLY gets to me though. My partner and I have developed a ‘boofhead salute’. We use it for everyone with flags on cars or permanently outside their houses. Way too ‘Americanised’ for our taste. I’d sooner we did any back-patting in a quiet and dignified way. As it appears you have. How very like you. Nice.


  11. David Donovan says:

    Congratulations on your award – well deserved!

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