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Australia Day becoming more inclusive but still the wrong date

1 September is an alternative date worth considering for Australia Day celebrations. This is also National Wattle Day, a springtime celebration that offers a rich history and meaning for all Australians. National days say something about the identity and values of the people who celebrate them. This year the government–owned National Australia Day Council (NADC) gives the following description:

‘On Australia Day, we reflect on our history, its highs and its lows.

We respect the stories of others.

And we celebrate our nation, its achievements and most of all, its people.’

Australia Day is the latest of four names used for the anniversary of 26 January 1788. During the 1800s it was called First Landing Day, Foundation Day and Anniversary Day, arguably all accurate descriptions. Celebration of a nation – that is something different. Australia became a nation in 1901 on 1 January – another date for consideration if we are in good shape after New Year’s Eve celebrations.

On 26 January 1788, when the British raised their Union Jack to mark the occupation of New South Wales, everything in Australia, even the soil, was to change. But upon reflection, is this date, although obviously significant, the best date for a national day of celebration clearly aimed to include all Australians? Does this date for an Australia Day show respect for the stories of indigenous Australians for example? Have we been listening?

A date for celebration is more than a matter of firsts. Otherwise we might be celebrating the arrival in March 1606 of Willem Janszoon in New Holland, as Australia was then known. That was the first of many visits by Dutch explorers such as Dirk Hartog and Abel Tasman before Captain Cook sailed into Botany Bay 164 years later on 29 April 1770. Or we might be celebrating 22 August 1770 when Cook claimed the eastern portion of the Australian continent for the British Crown on 22 August 1770, naming it New South Wales.

William Macleod 1888 'Natives opposing Captain Cook's arrival

 

 

Titled 'Natives opposing Captain Cook's landing' this image by William Macleod is based on Cook's journal entry for the 29 April 1770 and depicts two Gweagal men standing on a rocky outcrop on Dharawal Country holding spears. There are two small row boats approaching with HMB ENDEAVOUR in the distance.
It was published in 1888
Picturesque Atlas Publishing Company, Sydney; http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-145314525


Why resist a change of date for Australia Day? Dates, names and relevance of national days have changed again and again. For example, we no longer celebrate Empire Day on Queen Victoria’s birthday on 24 May. Empire Day, honouring the British Empire, was first celebrated in Australia in 1905, four years after Queen Victoria died (22 January 1901). The name was changed to (British) Commonwealth Day in 1958 following the decolonisation of the British Empire after the London Declaration in 1949. The date on 24 May was later changed to the ‘official’ date for Queen Elizabeth II birthday (the second Monday of June) in 1966 – although she was born on 21 April.

Wattle Day, celebrated in various states and territories since 1910 at different times between August and September when the wattles were at their blooming best has grown in popularity over the last decade. This grass roots resurgence of interest was facilitated in 1992 by the Governor-General’s proclamation that made National Wattle Day a national day, across all states and territories on the same day - 1 September – every year. Twenty-seven years later, the current Governor-General of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley said, ‘Wattle Day is all about appreciating wattle and celebrating what it is, and means, to be Australian. It is a day to appreciate how fortunate we are. A day to remember that we are strongest and at our best when we look out for our neighbours and when we respect and care for each other’.

From a practical point of view, 1 September happens to be a very good time of year for a national public holiday because there are no others between July and November and it wouldn’t clash with any state or territory wide celebration (Tammy Solonec 2014).

National Wattle Day continues to offer a unifying way forward for all Australians as a national celebration of what it means to be Australian and to live in this extraordinary land, irrespective of whether Australia Day continues on 26 January.

Suzette Searle

President
Wattle Day Association Inc.
(founded in 1998)

Entire article can be downloaded here.

 

OUR HEALTH WORKERS WIN 'GOLDEN WATTLE AWARD'

The 2020 Golden Wattle Award winners are Australia’s health and medical professionals and allied workers, who have been at the front line of the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and who, day after day, have put their own lives at risk to keep the Australian community healthy and safe.
This award is in recognition of their expertise and skill, their dedication and commitment and their unselfish demonstration of the very best of care and compassion for their fellow Australians.


Previous Golden Wattle Award winners since 2011 include tennis great Ashleigh Barty and Dylan Alcott (2019), Craig Challen and Richard Harris, underwater rescuers of the young Thai soccer (2018) and Samuel Johnson and his sister (2017).

Adrian's resilient wattle

This photo is testament to the resilience of wattle that survives, and thrives, even in the most difficult of situations.
Photo: Courtesy of Adrian (North Canberra)

Celebrate Australia's National Wattle Day on 1 September 

Golden Wattle (A. pycnantha) SD Searle

The first celebration of wattle day in more than one state on the same day took place, on 1 September in 1910 in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

And then with the First World War (1914-1918) and the desire to sell wattle sprigs to raise money for the troops overseas and later for maimed soldiers and women and children's charities, the date was changed to 1 August in NSW and other dates elsewhere to co-incide with the best flowering of their local wattles from July (Qld) to late September (South Australia).

In 1992 as a unifying gesture for this particular celebration, the first day of spring - 1 September - was proclaimed by the Governor-General, Sir Ninian Stephen, to be Australia's National Wattle Day for everyone across Australia to celebrate at the same time.
This has yet to be celebrated as a national holiday.

Wattles have long had special meanings for Australians and in 1988 the Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) was officially gazetted as Australia's national floral emblem.

Want to know more about why we celebrate National Wattle Day?

How can you celebrate National Wattle Day?

  • WEAR a sprig of wattle or the uplifting colour of yellow
  • GREET each other with 'Happy Wattle Day'
  • GO for a walk to enjoy wattles in flower around your garden, suburb, nearby bush or arboretum
  • ORGANISE a picnic, lunch, morning/afternoon tea, BBQ or dinner for your family & friends
  • or SING a wattle song with the children in your life.
    'The Wattle Blooms' was composed and performed for the celebration of National Wattle Day by Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley (pictured below).


 

The lyrics, recording and melody score for 'The Wattle Blooms' and other wattle songs can be found on our 'For Schools' pages.

 

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Wattle songs - lyrics and music

Wattle Basket by Paul Berry 2019

27 Aug. 2019 Photo: Courtesy of Mr Paul Berry. Government House

Australia's Wattle Songs

Download a recording of Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley singing and playing her composition
'The Wattle Blooms' (July 2020) on piano.      For the
Words and Music - click here

 

'The Wattle Blooms' - lyrics

In Spring the Wattle blooms and winter now is passed
The golden buds appear we hope that they will last
For many thousand years first peoples saw the glow
A symbol of our nation its beauty is on show

Short Break

Walking in the sunshine you see it everywhere
Birds above are nesting and singing without care
In brooches and in artwork the yellow blossom gleams
A still gold light in nature a symbol of our dreams

Australians gather round and take this beauty in
The wattle is so gentle and dreams within begin
It is our leading beacon the wattle beams so bright
Go out and have a look it makes our hearts feel right

'The Wattle Blooms' Lyrics, music and melody score
by Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley © 2020

 

Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley

Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley

Her Excellency was inspired to write this song after the celebration for National Wattle Day in 2019 at Government House. As part of the celebration His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) gave a speech about the meaning of National Wattle Day and he said:

"Wattle Day is all about appreciating wattle and celebrating what it is, and means, to be Australian.

It is a day to appreciate how fortunate we are.

A day to remember that we are strongest and at our best when we look out for our neighbours and when we respect and care for each other."

Their Excellencies & Duffy Primary School 27 Aug 2020

Their Excellencies receiving a basket of wattle from Duffy Primary School students
on behalf of all of Australia's school children
27 Aug. 2019 Photo: Courtesy of Mr Paul Berry. Government House

'Where the Wattles Bloom' by Jim Williams (2012)

'Wattle Day Song' by David and Jan Raff (1999)

'Golden Wattle'  Lyrics Denis Kevans Music: Sonia Bennett (1999)


Via Youtube

There's Gold Here in the Wattle by Cathy Welsford & Angie Smith

'The Wattle' by Jim Low (early 1970s)

Lyrics and sheet music for some of these songs are available further down this page - please scroll down.


School children Turner primary School by brian Goggin

Turner Primary School students singing a wattle song
Photo: Brian Goggin

 

Wattle Day Song

Chorus
We're proud to wear the Green and Gold,
Live the Spirit of Australia,
We welcome Spring on Wattle Day,
From coast to coast, let's all say G'Day.

The wattle lies dormant through winter months,
Building her strength for the Spring to come,
When life bursts forth in golden sprays,
Let's get together 'round Australia and say....

At the drop of a hat we'll celebrate,
Go out in the bush with our BBQ plate,
If someone's in need, we'll help them out,
Let's get together 'round Australia and shout....

The wattle shows a way we can live our lives,
An expression of hope, through fire and flood it thrives,
By working together we can beat the odds,
Aussie friendship and courage what more could we want....

©1999 David Raff and Jan Raff, Canberra ACT Australia

Download to listen to the MP3 recording of David and Jan singing their Wattle Day song

 

If you want to purchase a CD for $AUS20.00 containing a
recording of the song and a backing track (no vocals) which
can be used to accompany children when they perform, and
a page of sheet music consisting of a melody line and guitar chords,
please

Click here also for David & Jan Raff's sheet music for the Wattle Day Song.

 

 Aranda primary School 2015 cropped


Where the Wattles Bloom

Words and Music: Jim Williams © 2012

You can rest at ease 'neath the blooming trees,
on a Springtime day smell the perfumed leaves.

Hear the white birds cry, see the white clouds fly,
from range to range through an azure sky.

You can find your space in the meeting place

There will always be room Where the Wattles Bloom.

See the sparkling snow, hear the river flow,
from the mountain top to the plains below.

You can find your space in the meeting place

There will always be room Where the Wattles Bloom.

Watch the heavens toss, see the silver gloss,
of the shining stars of the Southern Cross.

You can find your space in the meeting place

There will always be room Where the Wattles Bloom.

See the rainbow shawl, hear the welcome call
of the ancient home of the Ngunnawal

You can find your space in the meeting place

There will always be room Where the Wattles Bloom.

In this timeless land, there’s a welcome hand
From the white capped waves to the blood red sand.

You can find your space in the meeting place

There will always be room Where the Wattles Bloom.

 

Download to listen to MP3 recording of Jim Williams playing his song on guitar.

Download to listen to MP3 recording of organ version (no voices)

Sheet music and words for a children's choir 

Sheet music for piano to accompany children's choir

 

Golden Wattle

Lyrics: Denis Kevans Music: Sonia Bennett

Golden the wattle, that spreads through this land,
Golden the wattle, to hold in your hand.
Golden the haze from the full wattle trees,
Golden the mornings with Spring on the breeze.

Smile lovely wattle, now smile on my face,
Smile for the hope that I hope to retrace.
Smile for the whistler who's joyous in song,
Smile for the mornings that Spring brings along.

Dance lovely wattle, now dance in the breeze.
Dance with the blossoms hung down to your knees.
Dance in the noon of the hot burning day.
Dance as the evening falls memories away.

  Instrumental verse

Golden the wattle, that spreads through this land,
Golden the wattle, to hold in your hand.
Golden the haze from the full wattle trees,
Golden the mornings with Spring on the breeze.
Golden the mornings with Spring on the breeze.

© Denis Kevans -  lyrics and Sonia Bennett - music.

Download to listen to MP3 recording of the 'Golden Wattle' (© APRA 1999)

Singer Sonia Bennett on guitar is backed by 'Loosely Woven' and a choir, with Samantha O'Brien plays the flute flute for the instrumental verse.

Denis Kevans

Denis Kevans

Sonia Bennett - artist

Sonia Bennett

You can download the musics and the lyrics by clicking on the links below

© 'Golden Wattle' - lyrics and music
© 'Golden Wattle'  - lyrics by Denis Kevans

 

'The Wattle' by Jim Low (early 1970s)

Lyrics

Colouring the bushland with yellow blaze
You warm the last of winter’s days
Bending with your weight of gold
The promise of springtime you unfold.

Chorus
We love to see you wattle tree
You warm our days with your golden rays
Your fluffy flowers smell so sweet It’s you we sing of and it’s you we greet.
You’ve watched our country from the start
You’ve brightened many a weary heart The pioneer farmer on his own
The tired drover going home. (repeat chorus)

 

Jim Low

Jim Low sings 'The Wattle' on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrmobSBQmZU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IggG21ER8LE&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3YQKcDbjpYiDT9hWUjsQMbuifz0lJPRhYo2Vk6iiqG3ZU0a2YFqtbCvAA

Recorded in 2013 and originally composed in the early 1970s.

Website: http://simplyaustralia.net website: http://jimlow.net

 

'Gold in the Wattle'

Enjoy this original song, singing and ukulele playing by 'The Wild Women of Anywhere Beach', otherwise known as Cathy (Fast Fingers) Welsford and Angie (Random Chords) Smith.

Cathy Welsford & Angie Smith

Hear it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_Wgm8cYpDY&feature=youtu.be
(2 August 2019)
This song is available on their "Keep Laughing, Seriously' CD.