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Australia Day would have to be one of my favourite public holidays. It does not have the excitement of receiving presents like Christmas, true. The upside of that, though, is that it also does not have the pressure of buying presents for others. It may not hold the sense of significance and pride of ANZAC Day, but it also comes without the long, tiring marches. What Australia Day does have to offer is a relaxed, fun day off spent with friends. Usually this occurs by a pool with a barbeque constantly cooking sausage. Beers are consumed, silly Australian flag merchandise is worn and everyone has a great time.

Of course, Australia Day does hold a lot of historical significance. January 26th is the day we celebrate the arrival of the First Fleet on Australian shores in 1788. If we are honest, though, this historical meaning, undeniably significant as it is, is rarely remembered at Australia Day parties. What we pay the most attention to is how to keep the beers cold, who has the most Australian flag tattoos on their face and which song will win the Triple J Hottest 100. This is not a problem- I think it is good to celebrate the present and enjoy the chance to have a day off with friends.

I think the most significant thing which happens on Australia Day is the annual Australian of the Year Awards. These awards recognize remarkable Australians who have achieved and contributed something significant in the past year. The major awards ceremony happens in Canberra but local councils around the country stage events for their areas. Tamworth regional council and Macleay regional council both hold events to recognise the achievements of people in the local community. I find this inspirational as it gives communities the chance to celebrate the remarkable people they live with.

I would like to give out a few awards, too. I think Australia Day is a time to celebrate the Australian spirit and have fun with mates. Australian of the Year awards celebrate the achievements from the previous year, but I think, less than a month into 2011, there have already been a few significant moments worth celebrating. Displays of mateship, determination and Australian larrikinism are never in short supply and even in the last three weeks we have seen some great examples. Here are my ideas for unofficial Australia Day awards.

Most Determined Australian

Winner: Lleyton Hewitt

He could win this several times a year, but I have to give this to Lleyton Hewitt. His refusal to give up after almost five hours on court against David Nalbandian in the first round of the Australian open showed grit and determination that only Lleyton can manage. He eventually lost, he showed that even injury and surgery cannot keep him from playing and fighting hard until the end.

Best Leadership

Winner: Anna Bligh

The woman who had more or less been written off for the next Queensland election demonstrated why she was elected as Premier of the northern state in the first place. Her honesty, integrity and compassion shone through as she delivered news, emergency contact details and announced tragic deaths and damages. Anna Bligh has done, and continues to do so much to keep Queensland together during these devastating floods and her words about the impending recovery effort have been nothing short of inspirational.

Legend of the Year

Winner: Daniel Brew

This guy is not a celebrity yet, but he surely will be, at least for a week. If you have not heard the story, Daniel Brew gatecrashed a press conference of Australian Test Cricketer, Michael Clarke’s, and proceeded to tell him where he is going wrong in his game. Sure, the kid is a bit of a brat but good on him for having a go at Clarke.

Best Australia Day Party Idea

Winner: BBQ for Floods

If you are planning on having an Australia Day party this year, why not use your time wisely? A great initiative called BBQ for Floods has been started, encouraging people to find some way of raising funds with friends this Australia Day. Ideas range from taking donations to “fining” people for making mistakes in cricket. There are plenty of ways to raise money this Australia. Try taking bets on the Hottest 100 countdown or putting a “swear jar” in place. That would be certain to raise thousands at a boozy BBQ!

Here’s hoping everyone has a great Australia Day. Feel free to post any of your “unofficial award” ideas in the comment section below.

Published: Jan 21, 2011 4:09pm by cbere.

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