It’s 26 January and Australia Day, marking the arrival of the First Fleet at Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) in 1788. The ships had set sail from England 252 days previously carrying 1,000 convicts along with officers, crew, marines, and their families. A penal colony was set up and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, the momentous occasion is a national holiday, a get-together with rellies and mates to celebrate in style. The Australian flag is everywhere you look: flying proudly outside homes and on cars, painted on faces, arms and legs, and emblazoned on towels and beach balls.
The young and young-at-heart kit themselves out in rashies, boardies, sunnies and thongs, and head en masse to the beach or park. Slabs are purchased from the local bottle-o and loaded into utes, the stubbies later deposited in Eskies full of ice to keep the amber nectar cool in the scorching heat. The hungry hoardes dive into plates laden with schoolies. Barbies are lit and steak and snags thrown on to cook, which are then wrapped in a slice of bread with a squirt of tomato sauce. Accompanied by a few slices of beetroot and some avo, perhaps. And a stubby in a stubby holder, of course.
And afterwards, time to indulge in Australia’s favourite dessert: the pav, topped with whipped cream and a rainbow of fresh fruit and berries. While the kids run around with ice blocks in the warmth of the sun. It is, after all, the last hoorah before schools, and many businesses, go back after the long summer break down under.
Glossary (just in case)
Amber nectar: beer (essential drinking)
Avo: avocado (obviously)
Barbies: barbecues (one of many words ending in -ies in Australian English)
Boardies: boardshorts (shorts made from quick-drying fabric – just perfect for the beach)
Bottle-o: bottle shop (in Australian English, abbreviated words often end in -o, when they don’t end in -ies, that is)
Eskies: an insulated cool box (Esky is a classic brand name)
Ice Blocks: ice lollies, if you’re a Brit
Mates: friends (did you really come unstuck on this one?)
Pav: pavlova (dessert made from meringue, topped with whipped cream and fruit – the question is: did it originate in Australia, or NZ?)
Rashies: rash vests (T-shirts made from quick-drying fabric, protecting the wearer from rashes and sunburn)
Schoolies: school prawns (great on their own or on the barbie)
Slab: case of beer (24 stubbies)
Stubbies: squat bottles of beer (as opposed to traditional bottles, which are known as ‘long-necks’)
Stubby Holder: insulated sleeve for keeping beer cool
Thongs: flip-flops, rather than skimpy underwear
Tomato sauce: not ketchup
Ute: typically, a two-door passenger vehicle with a cargo tray in the rear