Australia Day in South America

barbecue - Australia Day.jpg
Barb and I, token Aussies, eat at a steak house. The woman of Torquay, Vic, is a vegetarian but acknowledged the need to eat at a place that offered barbecue.

Right now I listen to Triple J’s Hottest 100 being streamed live. It may typically be the tradition on Australia Day but out of protest and acknowledgement to change the date, so has the timing of the playlist.

It’s the first time I have listened to the Hottest 100 and it’s also the first time I have been out of the country for Australia Day. I guess reminding myself of my country and clinging onto anything that makes it has become important at a time when even the accents have become so harsh to me. Even the sound of my own voice. It’s great being connected to interviews with Aussies across the world (even those mining 500 metres underground in Qld, hiding from the bosses while they listen to this playlist).

Another Australian and I have stumbled onto a barbecue steak house that promises Angus beef. Believe me when I say that in Peru this is as rare as rain in Mount Isa. I was nearly crying eating a ‘cowboy steak’. It reminded me of Mount Isa. It was the first I tasted a good steak since I left the outback Qld town in October.

chris - steak.jpg


Australia Day. I can tell you the trends I read on social media about the day. Beforehand there is the criticism and support for Survival Day mentality. On the day itself I hear about how bad the sunburns are as everyone has somehow had time for five minutes in the swimming pool.

Like my country I am divided personally when it comes to Australia Day and the date of January 26 being used to mark our patriotism. For some the day acknowledges the British invasion and the brutal treatment and destruction against the Indigenous cultures. The first fleet of convicts landed in Sydney on this day in 1788. Personally, who cares when every day should be Australia Day. But there are Indigenous people who see it as a time of mourning. Why not simply change the day for those that matter? Anybody who claims to be a true patriotic should not be able to care either way.

On the other hand changing the date is a manageable distraction from the disparity among the average Indigenous to the average Australian. Health, welfare, income, and education, an imbalance in crime and incarceration are still a massive struggle in the remote communities but instead of focusing more on these concerns there are many who focus on lobbying changing a day.

But who cares what I think. It’s worth reading Waleed Aly’s opinion piece in the New York Times about ‘How To Rethink Australia Day.’


One of my friends is teaching overseas. She teaches in England and left Australia about a fortnight before I did. In fact we’re listening to Hottest 100 right now (we’re on 86) even though it must be 3am in London right now. I guess I mention Jo because we have similiar experiences with the isolation from Australia.

On her first Australia Day outside the country she played badminton after school, and then had dinner at a Persian restaurant with a Carribean West End actor and an Iranian prac student.

“It was great. And it’s the little things,” she said. “There was a starter that was so much like my family’s potato salad that I felt back home. And I should have gone with the lamb…”….

10.15pm: So I’m listening to song 72 on the Hottest 100 playlist. Jo is also listening and it’s 3am her time. The song currently playing is In Cold Blood by Alt-J. The song before that was Nuclear Fusion by King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard. I really liked that one, as well as Cloud 9 by Baker Boy (song 72). I hadn’t heard him before but I am really loving the Indigenous feel to the rap. It’s a consolation¬†that he made it if my mate Lucky Luke doesn’t make it on the list with his song Jacks.

11.12pm: I’d stopped for an episode of Gossip Girl and now I’m back. And alright! We’ve got 21 Grams, by Thundamentals placing 61. But I’d much rather have their song Sally making the list.

“Everybody knows that Sally can’t dance
But damn she’s so fine that nobody’s gon’ tell her
Two left feet, one beautiful smile
Goddamn she’s so fly whenever we’re together.”¬†

The list is still young and so is the night.

11.45pm: 55) 6 Pack by Dune Rats: “Got a place, where no one’s ever sober. It’s all good, there’s nobody coming over.”

12.11am: I can’t keeping doing this. But yessss……The Smith Street Band makes 49!

12.35am: Can’t do it. Must sleep. Only at song 44. Please let Gang of Youth’s Like a Version cover of Blood make it. And Sally. Tash Sultana’s Jungle will likely make it too. Maybe another San Cisco song.

Happy Australia Day.