Australia Day 2009

The 26th January is Australia Day, the day we commemorate the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove, New South Wales, in 1788 - the birth of our nation.

Since it is the middle of Summer here in Australia, the day is celebrated with family picnics and barbecues at the beach and evening fireworks in public places. Lots of fun and a few headaches next morning. I wonder what the convicts who staggered ashore in 1788 would think about it all, if they could see us here today.

If you are experiencing a cold Winter in a northern clime, I hope you are keeping snug and out of the Winter chills. Our daughter Katelyn has just arrived back in Australia after spending a couple of weeks in New York, where temperatures reached minus 15 degrees. She nearly froze. We, of course, are in the middle of Summer and it's pretty warm to say the least.

It is also our wet season, the time of the year when cyclonic storms gather in the Coral Sea and Gulf of Carpentaria and dump tons of water when they cross the coast and move inland. There has already been widespread flooding in North Queensland, with roads cut for days at a time and water spreading out over miles and miles of the Northern and Western parts of the State. But that's all a thousand miles or more from us here in the South East corner. We have had a little rain but need a lot more to fill our rivers and dams to ensure that we have enough to drink and the farmers have enough to see their crops through the dry months ahead.

I sent my little tale about the crocodile to a friend in Suffolk, UK, and referred him to the other amusing tales I had picked up when we were in Townsville a few weeks ago. They are now recorded here.

He replied:

"I have been listening to radio Darwin while in the office these past few days and watching the A.B.C. news video coverage of the floods in northern Queensland. The damage done to the Barkly Highway and the flooding from the Georgina seem to have been taken with the usual Aussie shrug of the shoulder. If it happened here I am sure we would get counselling!"

"Enjoyed your tales of the man with his python and the miraculous recovery of the dead dog. The story of the crocodiles has an interesting sequel in the county of your forefathers. Not to be outdone, one of our many unelected quangos has decided to introduce (you will note not reintroduce) the sea eagle, which is quite capable of carrying off a small child, to the wilds of Suffolk. No doubt this introduction will be seen as a logical follow on of the food chain, while the eagles are making off with pet cats and dogs, but like crocodiles they don't need to differentiate between two legs and four."

We have been filling in our time working on our websites and plotting ways we can generate enough money to pay for another trip to Britain - after we have finished paying for the last one of course.

Meanwhile things are not looking at all good on the World's economic front. Australia is galloping into recession, or should that be depression, along with everyone else. Hundreds are losing their jobs in mining and retailing and small businesses are going to the wall. The formerly very vocal 'smart investors' who were making fortunes borrowing the max to invest in properties and shares are looking rather pale these days, and the big time financial advisers are hiding in cupboards. Oh dear, will we never learn that greed is NOT good.

The whole world seems to be looking towards the new American President for leadership out of our troubles and chanting "Obama, Obama". I just hope we won't be crying "Oh! bummer, Oh! bummer", in a year or so from now. The new US President certainly appears to have the quality of leadership and the support he needs to lead the recovery and get the US economy back where it should be. If he can do that, America will be a great driving force for the rest of the world.

We in Aus rely heavily on China, India and Japan for our economic welfare, and they all appear to be 'up the creek without a paddle' at the moment, so things are not looking too good. Our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, seems to be doing all the right things to lead our country through the recession and needs our full support to do so.

Whatever happens, we will never be as badly off as our first settlers were 221 years ago. They had it really tough. Strangers in a strange land, far from home and nearly starving, but with true British grit and determination they overcame the huge difficulties, and in so doing, laid the foundation for our great nation. Our pioneers had to work things out for themselves. They had to be determined and resourceful and strong to overcome obstacles and get ahead.

We seem to have become so reliant on others and used to putting the blame on them, meaning the Government, the employers, the Banks and so on, for all our problems, and we complain that "they" should fix this or that for us to make our lives more easy and pleasurable.

Have we become too dependent on what "they" can do for us and should we be determining what "we" can do for ourselves in these difficult times.

Now here's a good question. What are you doing for yourself and your family to get ahead in 2009?

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