On Wattle Day

Wattle day is very important to us, and every year we hold our monthly dinner meeting surrounded by branches of locally blooming wattle. We cherish the Australian landscape, all of its native plants and animals. This is fundamental to our cultural expression and our own unique perspective on the world. We consider ourselves to be one with the land, that it is this land that fed and sustained us, our parents and ancestors, it is this land which blesses us with the seasons every year and it is this land which has formed our culture by lessons of hardship and endurance. 

The land taught the many generations who came before us that we must produce a community of charity and mateship to survive inamongst the troubles of fire, isolation, flood and drought. Rex Ingamells once wrote “Our traditions are twofold. Inextricably woven with the transplanted European culture are our experiences of the Australian environment.” (Conditional Culture, 1938)

William Freame wrote a great column about wattle day in 1912 “We who love our native land, and consequently its flora, should remember Wattle Day. Firstly The wattle is our national flower and it comes to us year by year as the first sign of the glad awakening that heralds the approach of the best season of the year. Secondly Wattle Day encourages a healthy national sentiment, it helps us to foster a love for our native flowers, and assists us to increase our knowledge of them. Wattle Day is both a patriotic institution and an educational factor, and last, but by no means least, it presents in a most attractive form, another opportunity to minister to the happiness of others, for by common consent, we agree to take or send the golden blooms to the sick in hospitals, to those cooped up in the great hives of industry in the cities and to the denizens of the crowded streets. To all these it gives a sweet remembrance from the country, telling of the pastoral scenes, of river banks of long red winding roadways, of old farm homes.”

Wattle Day for us is a patriotic celebration of the coming of spring and the new season of life which comes each year. The celebration prompts us to proclaim our appreciation and connection to the land we live upon and the land that has sustained us since our pioneering ancestors came to these shores and planted their own roots in the soil. We European-descent Australians just like the wattle; by blood and toil have become children of the land. This is fundamental to our cultural outlook.  As Lawson wrote in Waratah and Wattle

“If a black cloud should rise on the stand;
But whatever the quarrel, whoever her foes,
Let them come! Let them come when they will!
Though the struggle be grim, ’tis Australia that knows
That her children shall fight while the Waratah grows,
And the Wattle blooms out on the hill.”