Hundreds of people of all ages and backgrounds, colours and creeds gathered at Oxley Beach to watch the miracle of the sunrise on 26th January. It was a silent solidarity, especially moving on this first post-referendum Invasion Day/Australia Day.
The Aboriginal flag hung limply as the rising sun mirrored the emblem on the flag. A very few quiet speeches from local Indigenous people had preceded the sun. Mention of the massacre of over 300 Birrpai people at local Blackman’s Point set a sombre tone for the reality of why we were here.
But mostly silence reigned, quite a feat given the crowd on the hill above included many children. The grass was wet, the wise had brought towels or rugs to sit on, the elderly had trouble getting down… and would surely do so getting up …but nobody was complaining or fidgeting.
Sadness, yes, but communion with each other and Nature made it feel like peace and calm
At the end, everyone was invited to walk to the sea edge, and I found that most moving of all, as it felt like a healing of the division that seemed all around us after October.
When the risen sun began to be covered by cloud, my fanciful mind saw it as an allegory for the hopes that had been extinguished by that result. An opportunity lost.
But knowing the cloud would lift and the sun would shine out fully led to new hopes that our future and our past can be truthfully aligned and our First People come into their rightful place.
I contrast the rah-rah and ‘patriotic’ flag waving and noisy celebrations that will characterise this day for many Australians with how the same day, that of the invasion, was mourned this morning.
Surely we can be mature enough to allow both their appropriate days. Who would hold a party in a cemetery?