They went with songs to the battle, they were young. Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted, They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.
Lest We Forget
What is an ANZAC?
“ANZACS,” is an acronym for the Australian and New Zealand Army Core, a group of troops renowned as courageous fighters who fought agains the Turks in the battlefields of WW I, far away from their own shores. Members on both sides of my family were injured and died at this gory battlefield.
Each year on April 25, Australia and New Zealand remember the Anzacs and broadly all the casualties of war. With ceremonies and services, the Anzac day traditions continue to grow in popularity, even though the last “digger” or Anzac soldier has passed away. Ceremonies are attended in every town, large and small, and attended by young people who proudly wear Grandfather’s medals and older ex-servicemen alike.
This year, Australians will honour them by standing on our driveway in a line of honour at 5.55am.
The sacrifice and valour of the original soldiers created the ANZAC legend and constituted a turning point in Australian history and the formulation of Australia’s identity. After this battle and war, Australians seemed no longer satisfied to be part of a British outpost in the Pacific. As a nation, we had grown up. We wanted to be a country and identity, in our own right, not a mere vassal. The Anzac legend fortified this belief.
The Anzac story of the Gallipoli battle has now become legendary. The Gallipoli battalions were sent into battle, under-resourced, and ordered to positions impossible to defend; vertical cliffs with enemy positioned at the top.
They were headed for a level of bloodshed on all sides, previously unknown in the annals of modern history. Actor Mel Gibson immortalized the Anzac soldier’s spirit in the 1981 film “Gallipoli”. It makes me cry every single time I watch it, for the men, their families and the loss of Australia’s best young men.
So every April 25, we will always remember them.
Lest We Forget
A snippet from 1981 of a surpringly nervous Mel Gibson as he talks about the film.
Australians are renowned for a laconic, self-deprecating sense of humour that is, to a large extent, the sort of mockery that is not meant to offend.
Australia – New Zealand Relations
We love to tease the New Zealanders about their accent and habits, like their habit of calling all and sundry, ‘bro.’ The Kiwis, in turn, mock us about our own ‘Straylan‘ accent, about who really invented pavlova, or whether Russell Crowe is an Aussie or Kiwi.
[Although after the phone-throwing incident, there was a debate as to whether anyone would claim Russell, at all].
Mocking each other can be a sign of feeling secure enough with the friendship that each may ‘have a go,’ or tease someone, in a gentle way, hopefully without it being taken personally, or causing offence. And so it is between New Zealanders and Australians.
Teasing aside, our countries do have a fairly similar culture, at least historically in the Anglo-Saxon sense. Many of us have relatives in both countries.
We understand each other and visit all the time, prior to Corona, of course. It is quicker to travel to New Zealand than to travel to the other side of Australia, for goodness sake. When every second or third New Zealand Teenager moved to Australia in search of work, in the 1980s, the popular joke here, was:
“So you moved here from New Zealand? Did you leave the light on?”
New Zealanders are very welcome in Australia and are treated as one of us. Well, except when it comes to welfare payments, perhaps. ‘Nuff’ said.
Aussie Vernacular Idioms
My Kiwi cousins enjoy teasing me about the way Aussies say, “Yeh, nah,” or ‘yes,’ then ‘no’ in the one breath or sentence. And we do say it. No doubt.
All the time!
So why was this T-shirt found in a souvenir shop, in New Zealand, with a kiwi as part of the logo? “Hey, bro?“
Are New Zealanders saying it, as well?
In defence of my fellow Aussies, this confusing phrase is used when we want to make two points, relative to one another, presumably to save time. As you may know, Aussies like to shorten everything to save time, especially when it comes to conversation and slang. As this video confirms:
In saying Yeh. Nah, we are agreeing with our conversational partner before further disagreeing on a smaller, less significant related point. Hence:
“Yeh, meaning you are right, (it looks like it might rain, but) “nah” meaning in reality, it probably won’t rain this afternoon – hence “Yeh, Nah, I don’t think it’s going to rain!” Clear as mud?
It seems this confusing idiom that makes no literal sense has traversed the Tasman Sea, into New Zealand to the point that it’s now New Zealand speak, if only because it has the word, ‘bro’, after it!!
Aussies will NOT disagree with this, will they? Yeh…. nah!
And if you are ready for some more Aussie humour, Carl might give you a laugh.
This is Australia, a continent not ravaged by war, disease or famine.
A country rich in resources and a friendly open public.
It should be a vanguard for a successful democracy, shouldn’t it?
Australia in 2020
A wobbly renewable energy sector,
Over-reliance of exports of raw materials,
A powerful and corrupt financial sector,
A struggling research and tech industry.
Environmental devastation from natural disasters,
Bushfire, drought and cheap imports.
Declining export markets and competitiveness.
Decreasing full time unemployment and
increasing casualization of the workforce.
It all sounds like a bit like a third world country, but it isn’t.
This is Australia!
And it might be a recipe for economic and environmental disaster.
The Tyranny of Distance
Many companies find trading in Australia logistically difficult, due to the ‘tyranny of distance’. We are, after all, stuck right down the bottom of the planet, on the way to nowhere except perhaps New Zealand and Antarctica, and not too many companies head to the southern continent. (No offence there to my Kiwi rellies intended).
In order to stay competitive, Australian companies might decide to decrease production costs, and one popular method of achieving this is reducing staff. Any profits made via increased productivity, is then divided up amongst shareholders. So there is not much incentive to hold onto staff.
Offshore Corporate Relocation
Companies that formerly hired Australians in varying sectors of the economy have, in the last decade, moved company operations off-shore, to a cheaper labour market in Asia, Bangladesh or India.
The result: Lower quality control, poorer reliability and worst of all: – less jobs in Australia! Not only is there less job vacancies, there are less permanent full time jobs – with the end result being a workforce that is highly casualized and contractual. That sure doesn’t help economic stability.
The solar energy industry and the Green movements are not to blame, yet that seems to be the mantra from conservative politicians and mining companies magnates. The country has became so very much dependant on them, that it is their voices that now carry weight over any others.
The agriculture and animal farming industries are in constant decline too, with perhaps the worst, yet to be experienced, as we feel the full brunt of the aftermath of the bushfires and the Chinese slowdown.
Australia grew up on the “sheep’s back.” That is, we sold wool and wheat to the world. But as the third world develops along western lines, Australian products have become far too expensive, and we have to add in long and expensive hours of transport, from this corner of the planet. Thus, Aussie products are no longer selling well, and there is nothing yet to replace that.
This gives the mining companies so much power to influence public policy and push their own agenda, to politicians.
We have a non- existent manufacturing sector – what we did have already disappeared overseas. The banks and mines and perhaps, housing construction are the only thing keeping our economy going and thus, our current standard of living.
Is this enough to maintain our current standard of living into the future?
“… the old cargo cult mentality of Australia that she’ll be right.”
Paul Keating Former P.M and Treasurer
Education in the form of mostly Asian fee-paying students, is the only other small growth area in the economy, and wholly depends on Australia’s immigration policy towards foreigner students.
Universal Compulsory Voting
The outlook seems bleak, and even more so, as the majority of people do not realize the long term implications for our country. They appear easily swayed by sweet talking politicians.
Politicians with a complex and well thought through economic plan did not seem to find favor in the electorate at the last election.
Franking Credit Scheme
The Government pays out an enormous amount of money on public schooling in Australia, and an equivalent amount, is paid out by the Government to shareholder investors, in the form of franking credits for shares. The shareholders get paid a second time by the Government on top of the dividend itself, and the proposed scheme to rein this in, was complex.
Dividends are paid out of profits which have already been subject to Australian company tax which is currently 30%. This means that shareholders receive a rebate for the tax paid by the company on profits distributed as dividends.You are entitled to receive a credit for any tax the company has paid. If your top tax rate is less than the company’s tax rate, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) will refund you the difference.
With the Opposition not being able to communicate this properly to the electorate at the last election, meant the incumbent Government hoodwinked voters into believing money was going to be taken off their investments and another new tax imposed!
Suggestions of introducing Emissions trading schemes have ended many a politician’s career on both sides of politics. The media and oppositions have turned these suggestions in to the popular and false threat of a “new tax,” and the Australia public runs scared.
Voting in Australia
Compulsory voting means these folks who are ill-informed, or who might hear a mere headline or snippet of news from a tabloid source, vote with a knee-jerk reaction. In key electorates, this can make or break a good policy and Government, even though the majority of voters see through this charade.
Another example of voter ignorance was the suggestion of introducing a subsidized Electric Car Initiatives to tackle Climate Change and Emissions, which was scoffed at by conservatives who believed, quite incorrectly, that if elected, the party with the Electric car proposal would destroy the Aussie weekend culture, that centres around activities, in the ‘Ute” – (pickup truck)
Solar Power Generation
A country bathed in perpetual sunlight should be the solar powerhouse of the world. We should have our own solar panels in endless production, but instead we import solar panels from colder countries like Canada, Germany and China.
Because Australia has alway relied heavily on Coal fired power. Dirty Coal. The current Prime Minister loves it so much he brought some into parliament. What a joke!
Apparently it is cheaper to pollute the planet, than support Australian jobs and industry. In fact, the coal mining lobby is so widespread and so powerful, it spreads so many lies and falsehoods about solar power generation, it is scandalous. And the naive voters lap this up and spit it back at backyard barbeques to other ignorant constituents, who don’t know any better. Closed minds and closed hearts.And these folks vote.
An initial scheme to subsidize the introduction of solar panels in residential homes was SO successful, the government put a stop to it, as the coal industry was feeling the financial pinch and the government was losing royalties paid by mining companies.
Notwithstanding a solution is urgently needed to dispose of used solar panels, why on earth would you not want free, clean, non-polluting energy, I ask?
I’m irritated by the incumbent government and the future of my country. I now question universal suffrage and the abilities of the opposition parties to communicate their policies with the electorate.
Is this where democracy is flawed?
The public votes for short term gains, and not long term benefits for all?
Australia – become informed and think about where your vote goes.
Today is Australia Day, or if you are a First Nation person, you might call it Invasion Day. Back in 1788, the “First Fleet.” of British ships arrived on Australia’s eastern coast and began establishing a British colony.
The British considered the Australian continent unoccupied – as the indigenous peoples were not considered as a nation in themselves. However wrong this was at the time, it happened and today we still celebrate this day with a public holiday.
January 26 in Australia, marks the end of the long summer holidays and that means lots of folks travelling on the roads and lots of pool parties and barbeques.
At a time when the dude from Top Gear is making egotistical comments about Australia, Boris Johnson comments on our ‘resilient spirit.’
Is our country still resilient? When many of us support dirty coal fired power generation? Or deny climate change?
Not all Aussies fully comprehend the gravity of the planet’s situation as they only hear what the media here tells them. The media often fails to give a balanced view!
So, What can you do, when those who are ignorant or closed to new ideas vote in ignorant fools, because they read and listen to tabloid tripe? It’s a little depressing.
Whilst European economics has its problems, at least they are aiming for better air to breathe, and a better country for their children.
We seem to be taking a longer time to understand the problem.
This Australia Day – take up my challenge and show that Australians can:
Read more widely – especially those opinions that you don’t at first agree with – they may have a point of view that resonates somewhere. It can’t hurt you even if you don’t change your opinion – you will just be better informed.
Seek out facts to substantiate your opinion. The Radio and TV commentators might be and often are misinformed or wrong.
Discuss this with your friends and listen to feedback.
Challenge long held beliefs – the world is changing.
Recently I had a discussion with another blogger and it highlighted to me how the bulk of Australian public opinion appears to differ greatly from the rest of the First World in the North.
Coal and Renewable Energy Sources
Australia could, and should be, a solar energy powerhouse of the world with our almost constant sunlight and extreme lack of rainfall, right?
It is not.
As India and China, the major markets for purchasing Australian coal, move towards solar and renewable energy sources, it makes good economic sense in the long term to utilize a raw material is FREE and infinite.
Surely there must be a tipping point at which the Australia coal industry no longer becomes viable, yet some companies and politicians still support expansion of coal fired power generation. Will we see subsidized fossil fuel generation as a way to prop up employment?
Why? When there are alternatives.
The baseload power needed to support solar energy argument doesn’t make sense when it is solar that is putting more energy into the grid at times of peak demand. I am happy to hear otherwise along with hard evidence. Enlighten me.
For decades the coal industry has supplied power to Australian homes and so many jobs, towns and industry are heavily reliant on it. Past and present governments have been reluctant to invest in solar, due to vested interests who benefit from coal making large political donations.
Is it such a good idea to penalise those folk who choose to invest money in solar by making them pay for infrastructure? Infrastructure that actual makes power companies money by tax relief?
I would love to see coal industries leading the charge to investing and promoting/converting to solar. Why not? Currently, we import solar cells from countries like – wait for it – Canada, Italy China and Germany! Canada and Germany are not exactly renowned as warm weather countries are they?
What madness is this?
Prior to moving to our Home by the Sea, we had a wonderful solar system with German solar panels, and Italian inverter and expertly installed by an Australian small business – providing jobs to Australia.
Five years later, that same company had to close its doors and sack workers because the government initiated moves that caused extreme business uncertainty for companies in the Solar and Renewable energy sector, by reducing the incentives to Australian solar energy customers, thereby assisting the coal industry to further entrench reliance on itself by the energy grid and the monopoly they have enjoyed for years.
Pariochial Thinking and Media Control
Foreigners often direct criticism at Americans for having “blinkers” and closed thinking. Meaning that they seem to have a lack of awareness of external issues, due to their media focus on internal matters. However Australians may also be guilty of inward thinking and thus, are far removed from the levels of environmental awareness and action found in the many parts of Europe, where using dirty coal is regarded with much derision. For example: Finland
Have a vision for your country moving forward for the sake of your children!
Stand up to the Media Moghuls and radio shock jocks who claim they dictate Australian public policy and public opinion!
“We are striking because we have done our homework, and they have not.” – Greta Thunberg
Climate protest in Hamburg, Germany, 1 March 2019
I hear vehement criticism of Greta Thunberg in the hair salons and in the cafes and even by Australians, at backyard barbeques. It utterly shocks me that many Australians think she is some kind of spoilt child throwing an environmentally themed tantrum.
What has happened to my countrymen that they can be so narrow-minded as to criticize and poke fun at a child with a wish for a better future?
Time magazine didn’t think she was a climate brat; they nominated her as their person of the year for 2019.
Australians who deride Greta Thunberg, a child with a vision and the guts to speak out, disgust me, but then I think perhaps they have not had an opportunity to hear another opinion and don’t have the smarts to listen to information sources that are not mainstream.
How does one get through to this sector of the population if the media is so regulated by powerful self-serving interests?
The ageing population here is a hard line conservative group who favour stoic right wing governing with a touch of xenophobia. Compounding this and disappointingly, there seems to be a political swing away from the green movement by the middle income, middle aged voting cohorts. And this is happening when the young folk are much more environmentally aware than any of my peers.
Is it uncertainty over job security that drives this? Australia has always been so reliant on exporting its raw materials, that is has no manufacturing base to speak of. Research and the IT industry was beginning to develop until it was all but destroyed by government cutbacks.
I am unsure why.
On our final day of this decade, open your minds to new possibilities and new solutions, and cast away the hard line thinking of the past.
While large parts of the northern hemisphere revel in Christmas, soft snow underfoot and Jingle Bells, those contemplating a visit to Australia, might need to know a few facts before they arrive:
It’s Hot Here
It’s hot, darn hot and especially so if you rarely experience temperatures exceeding 26 degrees C.
Be prepared for sunburn. Be sure to bring or buy sunscreen, open shoes or “thongs”, (the ones that you wear on your feet!), and a decent, broad-brimmed hat!
Oh, and drink at least 2 litres of fluid a day. This does not include your coffee allowance! [Coffee is a diuretic and will dehydrate you].
An Australian Christmas
“But it doesn’t feel like Christmas,”
That’s the tell tale sign that you’re probably not speaking with an Australian resident. Despite Australia’s best attempts at creating a traditional European atmosphere with hot Christmas lunches comprising Roast meat, vegetables and puddings, it just isn’t the same feel when the mercury passes 30 degress celsius.
Well may foreign visitors smile at our attempts at, “Xmas hygge” replete with plastic Christmas trees with fake snow. They might relish laying on the beach eating buckets of prawns, (read: shrimp, but very large ones), on Christmas Day, but to those residents from the North, a hot Christmas will, no doubt, never be a real Christmas.
Let’s Go Swimming
As strange as it may seem, Australians wear clothes in the ocean or swimming pool. Yes, the fashion disaster, but highly practical, lycra rashi shirts and shorts, or all in ones for little kids, are essential clothing if you want to avoid sunburn. That is because Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. At Christmas time, you can get sunburnt in as little as 10 minutes.
There are jellyfish and they aren’t friendly…
With the mercury soaring well above thiry degrees celsius, you will probably try and cool off by jumping in the ocean, for a swim.
Except, if you’re in the state of Queensland.
Summer is jellyfish season, which means regardless of how hot it is, it’s far too dangerous to go plunging in the sea, especially in the tropical north.
That must seem like a cruel joke to foreigners, but it is the truth. You can of course, still swim and take your chances, or wear ladies stockings to prevent the jellyfish tentacles stinging your skin. That really is your options! You’ve been forewarned.
Are you still keen to don your Aussie cosie* *read: Swimsuit now?
If you are, you might like to:
Meet your Friendly Neighbourhood Crocodile
There is no swimming in the Top End, or the region called The Northern Territory either, but that’s not because of jellyfish; it’s the crocodiles that are lurking in the waterways. One of the hottest places in the world, surrounded by water, and you can’t go for a swim because you’ll be torn apart by a prehistoric reptile. If you don’t believe me, here is a quote from a Northern Territory local, in his own words:
“It’s ingrained in all of us — when you go fishing, you are taught to be alert [and] don’t hang your hands over the boat for example,” he said. Although the fear is warranted, it’s all about calculated risk and an awareness of the place we call home.
The Freshwater crocs pose less of a threat as they are more likely to attack only when they feel threatened. “It’s hot, and we always need to cool down and so most locals will take the plunge, even if it means risking it all for the sake of a cool dip.”
Perhaps I should address the elephant in the room, or more accurately, the snake in the house.
Sensible tourists don’t go wandering through any long grass or bushland, particularly next to creeks or waterways, because we do have extremely venomous snakes here. And, if you stay with some Aussie friends, you may see one in the backyard, or if you are really lucky, in the house. They are on the move at Christmas. Pythons, especially like to curl up behind toilets, but don’t worry, the pythons aren’t venomous.
Have fun with that.
It’s hot, then cold and rainy, and then hot again
Most visitors to our shores have the impression Australia is a land without winter, and it is all about bright, sunny days and nothing else.
That isn’t always the case.
Depending on what part of our expansive continent you stay in, you might get days so hot and humid that you can barely move your arm off the sofa. Later in the arvo – (read: afternoon), a tropical thunderstorm with terrential rain will soak you through to the skin, in a matter of seconds – even with a raincoat, which most of us don’t own. There is no need for it.
The tropical storms might cool you down temporarily, but rest assured, it will be hot again in about 30 minutes, which is when the storm will probably finish.
Alternatively, you just might get a little rain or sleet at Christmas, if you visit the little island at the bottom of Australia, called Tasmania – you know the land mass that is closest to Antarctica – bar New Zealand, of course. Mt Wellington in Tassie, (oops Tasmania), often has a dusting of snow, even at Christmas. Mostly it’s just for a few hours, until it melts away.
Birds – there is lots of them
We have a plethora of bird species, so if you are an enthusiast, you will think you’ve reached paradise. Mostly active at dawn and dusk, they can range from the extremely colourful, as in the Rainbow Lorikeet, sing beautiful songs like the common Butcherbird, or laugh hysterically at you,like a Kookaburra.
Don’t take it personally.
As a child, I could never work out why the storybooks would tell of birds flying south for the winter? Such was the domination of British literature in Australia, in the sixties and seventies. Unless their internal compass is faulty, the birds here don’t fly south, as the only land they would reach would be Antarctica.
There is always a flood or a fire, in Australia, somewhere in summer. The Northern half of Australia is prone to tropical storms, called cyclones, at Christmas and cyclones bring monsoonal rains, severe winds and floodings, in their wake. The rest of Australia is prone to Bushfires, and we have had more than enough of those this year.
Ah…Australia: beautiful, isn’t it?
It is Peak Holiday Season
For most of the world, there’s a small shutdown between Christmas and New Year, and then it’s back to work as normal. For Australians, Christmas time is the green light to leave town. You’ll find Aussies at the beach, or, ironically, snowboarding in Japan).
Well almost…. Doctors, Nurses, retail workers, hospitality staff, fireman, airport workers amazingly still have a job to do all year around. Pretty much the only ones on holidays are the Tradesman and Office staff, those who work in the education sector and fireplace installers.
That is a good thing, right?
Shop til you Drop
As for retail, the triple hit of summertime, the long school break and Christmas means it is the busiest time for retail shopping. It is manic at the large air-conditioned malls, as all those residents without air conditioners hibernate there to cool off during daylight hours. To say nothing of the mayhem at Boxing Day sales. It is hot at Christmas and people WANT A BARGAIN, and they WANT IT NOW!
Traveller Tip: the highways to the beach are car parks! Start out early in you are driving.
Don’t light a Camp Fire
We have some spectacular national parks in Australia, places where you can hike or camp and enjoy the great outdoors. Unlike other countries, however, you just can’t have a campfire. Even though everyone is aware of the very valid reasons for that, it’s still disappointing for tourists and even more so for the locals whose homes might be threatened by a bushfire that started out as a campfire. As I said, we have had more than our fair share of bushfire this year.
People become obsessed with cricket and tennis
You’re unsure of the point of Cricket?
So am I, but anyway – Cricket is a game that is sacred to Australians, they stand for hours on an open grassy field in the sun, at the height of summertime. Crazy! The important games go for five entire days, and at the end you might not have a winner or loser. Insane? I know, I know.
No one really watches cricket anyway and mostly we ‘dis’ the commentators – it is an Aussie tradition. But the cricket and tennis will always be on in summer, and in many Aussie households, you’re absolutely not allowed to touch the remote, or complain about it, or point out that it’s really boring. Even if noone is watching it……
All the Northerners lamenting the cooler weather – are you still ready to book your holiday flight to Australia?
If you can handle all of that, I will welcome you with open arms!
In case you are not aware, the head of our country has taken himself on holiday. He is out of contact – although supposedly still being sent daily briefings.
There would normally be nothing at all wrong with that, except that there is a national crisis – we have had months of bushfires burning through swathes of country to unprecedented levels.
And the head of our country is nowhere to be seen and remains silent.
Or is he?
Some say he deserves some quiet time with his family at Xmas. I agree, but if you are elected leader of a country, are you not on standby, 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
Would you not want to support your people in a time of crisis?
Nurses, Doctors, Hotel Housekeepers, hell even Taxi drivers have to work over Christmas, so why not the leader of our country? Someone that has given himself a big fat pay rise of late, when the rest of Australia waits six or more years for a pay rise. Six years.
Some say the P.M. has gone to New York to open a Hillsong church there – his faith is admirable, but how is this more relevant than our country?
Is he serving our country to the best of his ability or massaging his own ego?
Over 800 folks have lost their homes to fire in the last months. Rural fire Service folks, often volunteers themselves, have not had a day off in months. They are soent, exhausted and get NO pay, but the P.M. is entitled to a holiday, on full pay to open a church in New York?
It makes my blood boil!
I was discussing this with another blogger, Snow on her blog who wondered why we can’t boot him out of his job for this. We can’t kick him out as he hasn’t done anything wrong – legally. Morally – yes, there is an error in his judgement, however, he enjoys the full support of his cabinet ministers, so any repercussion is unlikely.
This is the same Prime minister who brought a lump of coal into parliament to show his support for maintaining coal fired power generation sources!
His government believes coalfired power is still the way forward because it is so very cheap to produce here and supports lots of jobs.
But the shift in public opinion is building. The youth in Australia want action on Climate change and they know burning fossil fuels is not good for our planet.
In the meantime, the only thing burning at the moment is Australia and Australian homes. And the #AussieNero sits idly by.
Smoke alarms are being triggered in our nation’s capital, Canberra, such is the poor air quality from bushfires.
Sydney suffers with a constant smoke haze and I can even smell it up here in the North, 800 km away.
Last year, the Amazon and Columbia suffered through many fires. The land in many areas is becoming drier and the rainfall is dimishing. This year, even the Monsoon rains in Indonesia have not yet arrived.
With lower rainfall, the soil becomes ignited far more easily from a stray cigarette butt, or a deliberate back burning off operation, or other accidental or deliberate causes.
The high winds that accompany climate changes fans any bushfires to catastrophic levels.
And the rainfall needed to saturate the ground does not come.
Here is a recent map of the fires across Australia from abc.net.au
And still the P.M. is silent. I hope the New Yorkers realize the price our country is paying.
Perhaps they might even say a prayer.
Well may we say, #wherethebloodyhellareyou Mr Morrison.
Almost every tourist to Copenhagen will visit the Tivoli Gardens, but if you want to experience an authentic Danish Christmas, you have to be around on December 24, as that is when the Danes and many Scandinavians, and indeed Europeans, celebrate Christmas. Danes might stay at home making and preparing marzipan Christmas sweets, and in the evening, celebrate Christmas with a hearty meal with family or friends, before dancing around the Christmas tree singing carols, (in danish of course), and finish the night playing Christmas games. It is all about creating Christmas Hygge!
The focus in Norway at Christmas, or Jul, is on food and lots of it. From the Rice porridge, or Rommegrot to seven types of Christmas biscuits or cookies, the Norwegian are into it. Trolls, Nisse and all.
Germany and Europe
Over in Deutscheland, and many parts of Europe, you might attend a Christmas market. It is almost compulsory and who wouldn’t want to, when there is delicous Christmas food, a festive atmosphere and Gluhwein in the offering.
The Swiss have long trumpet like horns that are played in the streets at Christmas time. In Lucerne, they also have enormous cow bells which are held in front of them and are rung, in a rhythmic march, whilst parading down the city streets. A very special Swiss Christmas.
Over in Austria, you might meet fairy tale characters in the streets of the Old Towns, such as these in Innsbruck.
However, the vibe is a little different in Austria and southern European areas like Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia or Austria, who have the tradition of the Krampus. Based on old Germanic folklore, Austrians, (not to be confused with Australians, who have the kangaroos), start celebrating Christmas on Krampusnacht,December 5. That is when Santa’s evil twin, the “Krampus”, a devil like figure with horns, roams the streets with his evil accomplice, brandishing a whip and stick to threaten naughty children who’ve misbehaved throughout the year.
Traditionally, young men dress up with the hairy ‘Krampus’ masks and walk the streets creating havoc, hitting people with sticks. That’s Austria. Luckily, when I met the Krampus, he was in a good mood and without his heinous accomplice!
Australia, the ones with the kangaroos and Crocodiles, (not Austria), has its own version of fun in the sun at Christmas time, because it is anything but cool, “down under.” Christmas Day, December 25 is often celebrated at teh beach.
Every shopping centres hosts Santa, where he sits posed on his gold throne, surrounded by fake snow, with children atop his knee, listening intently to wishes for Christmas. It is highly confusing for the smarter kids, as they can’t work out how Santa is able to be at every shopping centre at the same time!
Often there is the opportunity for official Santa photos, and now it is popular for beloved pets get involved too. The Schnauzer seemed to enjoy the experience this year.
Down in New Zealand, you will most likely have a Christmas tree (usually an artificial one), or more than one, if you are as passionate about Christmas as this kiwi.
This Lady of the above house in Wellington loves decorating, makes all her own decorations and has no less than 15 trees in her house. It is always tastefully done, albeit a tad obsessive, but in the nicest possible way! Dianne collects a gold coin donation from visitors and the money raised is donated to charity, so there is method in her madness.
Some of her trees were really creative. She had even created seasonal trees – in tones of Spring, Summer Autumn and well, winter of course.
At the opposite ends of the world, in the far north of Sweden, you might be building a snowman or sliding down a snowy slope on a mattress at Christmastime. Or digging out your car, if the snow is heavy!
In Eastern parts of the world such as Japan, you might not really celebrate Christmas at all and instead, focus on the bigger celebration of New Year. Mind you, the growing tradition of eating Kentucky Fried Chicken on December 25, is oddly popular, for some reason. I would most likely starve if I spent Christmas day there.
You may even be someone who dislikes the hype around Christmas and prefer not to celebrate and that is okay too. Wherever you are and how ever you choose to see Christmastime, may you find Joy in your day and peace in your heart.
Change might be disruptive and jolting, a shock to the system but it also heralds new possibilities and opportunities.
I will soon be moving to a new location. A new house, new area, new neighbours. It is exciting but a little daunting.
Some of you know that we have been prepping for this move for over a year and soon it will become reality. Add to that, I will be semi-retired- whatever that means?
Have you some moving tips for me? Last year when I moved to my current townhouse, I become stressed out and exhausted. I used to be an ace at moving house, when I was in my twenties and moving flats every year or so.
Thirty years on, I am older and need some tips on making it less stressful.