At this time of year I like to reflect on all the things I like about Oz, and I reckon old Dottie MacKellar summed it up best:
“I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges, Of drought and flooding rains,
I love her far horizons, I love her jewel sea,
Her beauty and her terror – The wide brown land for me.”
Australia is one of those countries that’s always going to be tough to love. Gobsmackingly beautiful, full of surprises, and yet she’ll happily kill you the second you take her for granted. Most of us fellas have survived girlfriends like that.
But lately, during the horror story of the recent floods, I’ve been left with a lump in my throat at how proud my fellow Aussies have made me. Neighbours helping neighbours, strangers helping strangers, everyone seems keen to pitch in. Struth, even the bloke who once ran the country was lugging someone else’s bags through waist deep muck, and even managed to get a journo to help him! This marked the first time I’ve ever seen a politician and a member of the press actually working together for the public good… for nothing! Wonders will never cease.
And while some local shopkeepers are still asking their customers if they want their bread stomped or unstomped, most of us are lining up to volunteer to help our fellow Aussies. In fact, so keen are we to help, that the phones at the Volunteer Help Line have been jammed for nearly a week now.
I should know, because I’ve been selflessly trying to get through in order to sign up Long Suffering Wife. Well, she could do with the break, and scraping mud out of roof spaces will make a pleasant change from catering to my finicky demands. As long as she’s not gone too long, I won’t mind at all.
The floods have given all of us of a timely reminder; whether you’re a descendant of the original inhabitants, part of the mongrel stock of convicts, gaolers, soldiers and free settlers, or newly arrived by boat, plane or skateboard, we’re all in this together, and being an Australian means pulling together in a crisis. And we have, and I’m sure we will again… hopefully not too soon though.
Sincerely folks, this is a wonderful country; even when she’s trying to kill us.