It's been a long time since this correspondent wandered into the Taree Woolworths (aka Woolies).
This has nothing to do with silly Peter Dutton's recent brain fade call for a boycott of Woolworths for not stocking Australia Day junk. As far as we can recall, we've never purchased cheap Australia Day paraphernalia from Woolies or anywhere else. We have no desire to wear an Australian flag as a cloak, like a would-be super hero. We're no fan of the flag anyway, what with the Union Jack stuck in the corner. We don't wear Aussie Day thongs, shirts or hats.
No, the reason we don't go to Woolies is that it's just too busy. We usually get lost in there as well while we always have trouble pushing a shopping trolley, which never seems to go the direction we're headed. All-in-all it's way too much trouble to secure a packet of Saladas, a couple of tomatoes and some cheese, our staple diet.
Call us un-Australian if you will and no doubt crazed conservative nut jobs jobs will, however, we've never been big on Australia Day. Back in the day no-one cared about it. The attraction of Australia Day then was the long weekend in January, which was peak Aquatic Festival time. There was always a holiday on the Monday for Australia Day, whether it was January 26 or not. The biggest thing to happen on the holiday Monday in those days was the naming of the Aquatic Festival Queen. The fact that it was (or wasn't) Australia Day didn't rate a mention.
Australians weren't flag wavers. We think that all changed when Australia II won the America's Cup in 1983 and the flag waved was generally the Boxing Kangaroo.
We recall going to the Sydney grand final (as we used to call it) in 1988. The NSWRL dragged a few washed up entertainers off the RSL club circuit for the pre-match "spectacular" and before the kick-off we all stood to sing the national anthem. Thing was, few knew the words. So the lyrics were put on the big screen for us all to follow. Few did. Many were surprised to find there was a second verse. For years we argued that Australia Day should be switched to Melbourne Cup day, the first Tuesday in November.
That is truly a day of national celebration and as we said many times, the Australian of the Year could present the cup and pat the winner. However, the gloss has gone off the Melbourne Cup a bit in the last few years, so that's probably not such a smart idea now.
We're grateful and proud to live in Australia. Just don't expect us to be draped in a cheap flag that is probably made in China, wear dodgy thongs or eat a stale lamington to prove it.
Celebrate Australia Day. Or don't. We don't care either way. Also, it's best to ignore Peter Dutton.
That makes life easier.
Mick McDonald, acting editor