Patriotic fervour courses through the veins of the joyful populace of L’Australie on this annual day of celebration.
The tricolore informs the aesthetic from La Perouse to Vaucluse as loyal subjects commemorate the arrival of Jean-Francois de Galaup, comte de Laperouse at Kamay, just days before Englishman Arthur Phillip on January 24, 1788.
The famed national colours adorn everything from the fleet of modern submarines in the bay to the delicious macarons baked so eagerly in honour of the visiting president, whose cavalcade rolls proudly along Route Anglais towards Crique Anglais.
A president who defers to his high school Art teacher, and not his high school sweetheart, on matters of liberte, egalite, fraternite, and rules without interference from an irrelevant monarch in distant lands. A leader as flawed as any Australien, but more than the mere puppet of a media mogul dismantling democracy throughout the world.
Joie de vivre permeates every beating heart after victory over the old enemy in the most recent football World Cup, which was celebrated with endless renditions of a truly rousing national anthem, and not with a dour hymn girt by confusion, nor with a smelly, sweaty shoe full of the nation’s harmful addiction. Instead, proud fans raised glasses full of local wine, blissfully unaware that one of our great export industries could have been significantly bruised if the prime ministerial puppet (born and bred in the East) had attacked our biggest trading partner to score a few cheap political points. Sacre bleu!
Alas, not every citizen shares the collective gaiety on this momentous day. Informed citizens raised on daily political discourse campaign passionately to change the date from January 24, and temper festivities with reminders of the genocide initiated at Kamay and perpetuated throughout a land that was never ceded.
They offer a firm critique of rising exclusive nationalism and dwindling media diversity, as well as the existential crisis facing native animals, and the wide brown land, incomprehensible even to the likes of Descartes or De Beauvoir. They take consolation in the fact that the French at least turned the cane toad infestation into haute cuisine.
Meanwhile, local surfers decry the British pronunciation of ‘Bronnie’ as they order tourists to chase barrels in the Coogee shore dump, and the nation’s terrible English literacy is attributed to language one interference.
On this warm, blue-sky day, children lob tennis balls at friends who present a flat bat and stand front-on with sandy feet pegged together. Nearby, the elegant elite sip cocktails at Bondi’s exclusive private beach club, and savour the heavenly combination of unrivalled culinary expertise and rich natural ingredients which could never have culminated in good ol’ meat and 3 veg.
Image: Eleni Stefanovski
First published in The Beast magazine, February 2022.