Oz Day Break – Port Fairy

Australia Day, and its celebration, has become an ever heating hot button issue in recent years. Tress and I put that aside to simply have some time off, taking full advantage of the public holiday status Oz Day always brings. That little cynical side in me says many who attend protest rallies in the cities, were simply sore that being students or unemployed, they didn’t enjoy the day off others did…

We took a long drive, along the beautiful shores that are hugged by the Great Ocean Road, and headed to Port Fairy. We left on Saturday morning, stopped at Apollo Bay for a bite (in that well known scallop pies joint) and pushed on from there, driving through the Otways before arriving at Port Fairy late that arvo.

We stayed at the Merrijig Inn, a quaint little place just across the street from the wharf. It is a beautiful spot on the surf coast. We had stopped at this very lovely town several times, but we had never stayed. So it was a break we both had looked forward to.

On Sunday morning, we trekked through Griffiths Island. Earlier that morning, we had taken the little black jedi for a walk, and headed to the south beach to see surfers taking on the cold waters. After Griffiths, we walked through the little town, grabbed a coffee and a doughnut in a bakery, and headed home late that arvo. Later that night we went to a pizza joint that also serves Thai food. It is owned and run by an Indonesian, so the whole package was very interesting. The food was good and the Indonesian owner (Alex) was very friendly and served very good food, so he’d be a happy man.

The next day, we took a drive to Mount Eccles, some 45 minutes north, heading towards the heart of the Western District. Mount Eccles is now known as the Budj Bin. It was a bit quiet and we walked around the very old volcanic site, circling Lake Surprise to work up a sweat. When we got back to Port Fairy, we headed to a local fisherman’s cookout and bought some lobsters and prawns, and headed to a park near the wharf to have a really good lunch.

It rained later that arvo and remained wet right through the night. We had some Thai food in a super busy joint in town, and the next day, after yet another very good brekky at the Merrijig, we headed home. We got home in the arvo, and after unpacking, we headed out to do some grocery shopping. I then gave the car a wash, before doing a barbie for dinner for Tress and I. It was after all, Oz Day. I made sure I had lamb. Four years ago (so Facebook reminded me), I wrote a short note to a columnist in The Australian, Nikki Gemmel. I’d write this to any journos again today, if an occasion presents itself, that’s for sure.

The note:

Dear Nikki
I read your Australia Day article over the weekend. I have always enjoyed reading your work and thank you again for writing a thoughful piece.
I am a new Australian. My family and I came from Malaysia back in 2004. I became a citizen in 2007. A couple of years ago, I started following the struggles of the Aboriginal community. I then decided to learn more about our history. I read works by (amongst others) Manning Clark, Geoffrey Blainey, Henry Reynolds as well as Robert Hughes (Fatal Shores). I plan to also read Keneally’s numerous books on our history. I’m not sure there were any shootings or killings on 26 January 1788. I believe most of the killings happen over the course of time, both before and after 26 January 1788 as well as as by Europeans and Aboriginals alike, and Europeans and Aboriginals killed not just each other but their own too.
As a person from a minority group in my previous home, all I ever wanted was a fair go for my child and I. We couldn’t get that in Malaysia so we came here. Nothing I read so far, suggests there is systemic effort to deny any group in this country a fair go. The system we have going in this country has allowed my child and I to work where we want (geographically and vocation wise/professionally) and so every Australia Day I celebrate such opportunities. I wonder if on 26 January 1788  there were no arrivals from Europe, we’d be having the same sort of opportunities we do today. 
So no, I’m not celebrating  the day the first gunshots ploughed the aboriginals’ blood into earth. I think every single person in Australia has a chance to build a better future for himself/herself. This is a much better position than most other countries. This is what I’ll be celebrating.