The following blog post was the Australia Day speech given by Michele Lally Australia Day Ambassador on 26 January 2020.
Good Morning Everyone and a special welcome to our newest Citizens. Congratulations on becoming a part of the Australian family.
Thank you for your very warm welcome Mayor Robert Bria, who I think is one of the longest standing mayors in South Australia and we can all understand why, Norwood, Payneham and St Peters is one of the loveliest parts of our beautiful Adelaide Metropolitan area. – I have always told friends from interstate and overseas that Adelaide is the 20 minute city, but in the case of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters, it is in fact the 5 minute city. At any given time, you are merely a 5 minute drive away from a sense of freedom and tranquillity that all of Adelaide has to offer. How lucky we are here in this lovely location.
How are you today? Happy Australia Day!
Today I join you to reflect on what it means to be an Australian and what Australia Day means to us all.
I begin by acknowledging the Kaurna people, the Traditional Owners of this land and I pay my respects to Elders past and present. Also I’d like to acknowledge Hon. Steven Marshall Premier of South Australia and Hon. Vickie Chapman Attorney General of South Australia. Thank you for showing your support here today.
I am a passionate Australian, and I enjoy celebrating and sharing all the good things that we have achieved as a nation, while respecting some of those times where perhaps it was a challenging time to and how we handled it as Australians.
So, whilst I don’t look like your average farmer, I am. I’ve spent the last 12 years producing and marketing agricultural food products directly to our city cousins and the first thing I love about Australia is the differences between our regional and urban communities. So many of our city cousins grew up in the country or have a story about their family on the land.
For me, one of my fondest times recently has been volunteering up in the outback of NSW where we mustered goats for the day. The community I visited hadn’t had rain in 3 years – not a single drop. Their overdrafts were maxed out, the land was parched and the only thing still surviving was wild goats. Wow, are those wild feral goats inspiring!
We started before the sun came up and we finished at 830pm. Our vast brown land ended up mostly on my face and neck, and by the end of the day, my body felt like I’d done a round with Mike Tyson. We all got along and had many laughs through our challenges of goats running off, jumping fences and just being cantankerous individuals. I learned really quickly that on this family farm, the proprietors and their team never gave up, they backed each other up and they had a good laugh while eating dust and an occasional fly now and again. That’s really the Australian Way to me – challenges, difficulty, never giving up and celebrating mateship and team work at the end of the job. Boy, that cup of tea at smoko tasted like French champagne, believe me!
Australian’s are a resilient mob and it never ceases to amazing me the strength and sense of community that we see in tough times. We step up to the plate when our friends are in need, we volunteer during emergencies and we are there to celebrate and reflect at the end of the day.
I’ll leave you with a few things that as an Australian I love the most.
These are the things that used to make me homesick when I lived overseas… and I think, if you can enjoy even one of these things in your day, it makes smiling, just that little bit easier as an Aussie….
RM Williams and Rossi boots
The Hills Hoist
The humble drizabone
The great Australian Homestead
The BBQ – preferably with lamb chops on it!
Wearing thongs to the beach and swimming between the flags
Drovers and stock routes
The Flying Doctor
The sound of Kookaburra’s in the morning spying their lunch and talking to their neighbour
Windmills creaking in the wind to fill up troughs
Magpies warbling in the evening as the sun goes down
The smell of gum trees in the rain
The Melbourne Cup, The Sydney to Hobart Yacht race, The Rugby Union World Cup, The Ashes, and playing for sheep stations in the annual Christmas holiday match of inter-family backyard cricket.
This to me is Australia and what a joy it is to live in this beautiful country and be a part of our future journey as a community. I wonder what innovations and new parts of our culture will be on my Australian list when I’m 80.
So whatever you do today to celebrate being a part of The Story of Australia, now, and into the future, be sure to reflect on what it might look like as we design and develop the next 100 years in our generation, and respect and honour the good times and the tough- raw times that we have come together to make this country what it is today.
So, Happy Australia Day and all that it means to you.
For more information about the Australia Day Ambassador program click here