Sunday, February 9, 2014

Australia Day

January 26th is Australia Day, or as many Aussies call it: 'Straya Day.  I found it to be a very interesting holiday, particularly because of the history behind it.  Australia Day is celebrated much like the 4th of July in the US.  Everyone has a big BBQ with friends and family, people go to the beach and enjoy being outside.  There's lots of red, white and blue and clothing with the flag on it.  Though people don't set off fireworks in their driveway here in Australia, they still had a fireworks display down by the bay.

I celebrated Australia Day in the most Australian way I knew how - being outside!  It's especially important for me to get outside on the evenings and weekends since I work in a lab with no windows.  Down on the waterfront was the Festival of Sails.  They had a crafty marketplace, food court area, a kids activity spot as well as a stage with live entertainment all day.

These ladies sang "Waltzing Matilda" - very patriotic

There were also sailboats doing different races throughout the weekend, but unless you were directly involved, it was a bit hard to watch the boats out on the bay (too far away to see anything).  Something about a Regatta - I know nothing about boats/sailing so I didn't really get what was going on, some sort of race thingy.

Pirate-like ship spotted at the Festival of Sails.  I think this was the same ship I saw at the Portarlington Mussel Festival
Very patriotic, though I didn't recognize all the flags
I found it very funny, in the marketplace area, they had a booth for the Cancer Council.  It was manned with ladies actively squirting people with sunscreen.  The sun is no joke here.  Back in the US we have a bit of an ozone layer, so if you lay out too long you'll get crispy.  But here, the UV is VERY intense.  You'll have third-degree burns if you spend a day outside without sunscreen.

Down with Melanomas
Of course, all of this fun was interspersed with LOTS of Australian flags.  Evidently it's a "thing" down here to wear the flag as a cape...  I also saw lots of Australian flag temporary tattoos on people's faces.

Lots of Australia paraphernalia for sale

You're not Australian if you're not wearing a flag

Seen on one of the Australia Day booths - quite Australian, haha

Amidst the crafts and food, they also had rides for the kids and other entertainment.  Down by the beach a 2v2 volleyball tournament was going on, and someone brought a bunch of camels for people to ride.  I must admit, the camels were odd, but entertaining.

Other Australia-Day-isms... Havaianas thong floaties.  (They call them thongs here, not flip-flops).  Every year on Australia Day at one of the Torquay beaches, a fundraiser is held to see how many people they can get out in the water with these giant blow-up thong floaties.  The money goes towards a cancer fund, and I'm told they get something like 12,000 people out there at one time.  After spending the early part of the afternoon down by the waterfront in Geelong, I decided to enjoy the rest of the day at the beach in Torquay to see all the floaties.

I couldn't get a good photo with all the floaties visible, but this is a taste of what the entire beach looked like.

Bright orange blow-up thongs everywhere!
There were plenty of Australian-isms present at the beach as well.  Everyone making sandcastles, playing cricket on the beach, BBQ-ing in the nearby park.  Everyone was having a great time.

Cricket kits were all over the place!

I did my best to join in on the patriotism with a $10 Australian-flag bikini that I got from Kmart.  I had a fantastic afternoon on the beach soaking up  some sun and people-watching.  Of course, I wore plenty of sunscreen and didn't get burned at all (awesome!).

I finished off the day by picking up fish and chips on my way home from the beach.  All-in-all a great first Australia Day!!

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