Australia Day flag-raising ceremony in Yamba
Yamba’s official flag-raising ceremony for Australia Day 2013 was hosted by PYHS with that delightful blend of formality and friendliness which has become a hallmark. Despite an ominous brief downpour at 8.45 am there was fine weather for the occasion and the morning tea which followed.
President Marea Buist began by inviting elder Rev. Lenore Parker to welcome us to Yaegl country. This was followed by greetings from Clarence Valley Council’s Deputy Mayor Craig Howe and an enthusiastic rendition of the National Anthem, led by local identity Bill Venn, as the Australian, NSW and Aboriginal flags were raised on the flagstaff.
Noel Charles, bush poet, once again delighted us with two of his poems (which will be shared in a later post), setting the mood for the Australia Day address. The speakers this year were two young local lads, Chris Zaffis and Jeames Young, who won the Mark Richards Shield at the Australian Junior Surfing Titles in Tasmania in December. They both used the theme of “What Australia Day means to me” and spoke of family and friends and the sense of belonging they had to the area and to the community.
When audience participation was invited, Geoff Small from Brisbane spoke up. As a direct descendant of Thomas Small who sailed the schooner ‘Susan’ through the dangerous entrance to the Clarence River in search of cedar in May 1838, Geoff spoke of his pride in his family, his love for Yamba and the importance of our history. Lenore Parker also elaborated on her earlier “Welcome to Country”. She said she had welcomed us to “her” country, but that her country was now “our” country, and how important it was that we all walked together beside the mighty Clarence as one people. Bill Venn reinforced this idea with his rendition of “I am, you are, we are Australian” with everybody enthusiastically singing the final chorus.
With that we all adjourned to the Museum grounds for traditional Aussie fare – tea and damper (with “cocky’s joy”) and snags on the barbie……it was the archetypal Australia Day!