Monday was the Australian national holiday, a celebration of the day in 1788 when the First Fleet dropped anchor in Sydney Harbour. The fleet consisted of 11 ships and 1400 men, women and children, more than half of them convicts. They'd been travelling for more than 250 days, and managed to land with almost everyone still alive. They actually landed at Botany Bay, to the south, a week earlier but soon realized that it was a really crappy place to build a colony. The trees were so big and hard they had to be blasted out of the ground with gunpowder, the natives were unfriendly, there was little fresh water and the harbour was exposed.
It would be more than two years before another ship would arrive in Australia, bringing supplies from England. (Well, perhaps not exactly supplies: the Lady Juliana actually had a cargo of 226 women, most of them prostitutes, since it was felt the new colony needed to grow. A genuine supply ship arrived a couple of weeks later, followed a few days after that by another fleet of convicts).
To mark all of this, Australians drape themselves in flags and their national colours of green and yellow, and head to the beach.
The alternative this year was to watch South Africa, wearing their national colours of green and yellow, pummel the Australian cricket team in a one day match. Happy Australia Day indeed. As one news web site put it: "So pronounced was Australia's decline from 2-110 when Ponting and Mike Hussey (28) were together that they were ultimately left to take the batting powerplay at a punch drunk 8-189. Gibbs soon rendered the total inadequate as he climbed eagerly into the outswingers of Ben Hilfenhaus (1-49), cracking him disdainfully over mid off and mid on despite the moving ball."
Couldn't have put it better myself... even if I did have a clue what on earth they're talking about.
Anyway, we decided to give the cricket a miss and headed to the sands of Noosa's main beach. The kids joined in a thong-floating event -- nobody was really clear what it was about, other than some sort of world record challenge. The main point seemed to be to get in the water, float about, and shout "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy, Oy, Oy." All great fun.
By mid-afternoon we were tired and sunburnt, so we headed home for a dinner of barbecued sausages and prawns, and some of the truly excellent Australian beer. We decided to give the fireworks a miss, as it was the first day of school the next day. Summer's over. Time to get to work, kids.