Australia Day – the Dublin Way
By: Denisha Brekke
While Denisha seems to change her mind daily about her passions and career goals, there is one thing she will never change her mind about: she loves traveling! Born and raised just north of San Francisco, CA, she has competed in every sport from softball to surfing, celebrated her last four New Year’s on four different continents, and recently graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in international business.
During the fall semester of my senior year at the University of Southern California, I chose to take a break from Los Angeles and study down under for an exchange semester. So realistically, it was their spring semester, but for Melbourne you might as well call it winter. For six months I lived in Melbourne, Australia, where I surfed, learned the rules of footy, attended a lifetime of barbecues, and partied with Aussies wearing neon body suits or something else ridiculous, on countless nights. Am I forgetting something? Oh yeah… I also attended my classes at the University of Melbourne, of course.
Unfortunately I was gone from Oz by the time Australia Day came around, which is celebrated on January 26. As far as the large events and other holidays that did happen while I was still in Melbourne, I learned that Aussies are the champions of capitalizing on an excuse to celebrate. Melbourne Cup? Let’s party! Grand final? Let’s party! A person you’ve never met before is getting a new parrot next Tuesday? Let’s party!! And again, it often cannot go without implementing a costume rule, passing around the face paint, or if you forget the above, get naked. Aussie rules.
So, Australia Day… what actually is this holiday? Australia Day is a holiday to overall celebrate the national pride of the country, of course. It says it in the name. But the historical significance of the date goes back to 1788, when the British First Fleet arrived in Sydney Cove, initiating a colony founded on convicts. It is essentially a pseudo-independence day, as, according to many, Australia does not actually have a proper independence day. Celebrations have gone on for over the past centuries, while the country actually became politically independent in 1901. But alas, January 26th is Australia’s Day, and they love it.
And as it turns out you don’t need to be in Australia to celebrate it. For the most part Aussies are everywhere. I can’t think of a time I’ve been in a hostel somewhere in the world without meeting an Aussie or ten, and I bet you can’t either. No matter what city you are in on January 26, there will be an Aussie bar, or at least some bar celebrating the holiday, because they know it means business (minus the liability costs of broken shot glasses). This year on January 26 I was in Dublin, which was an amazing place to celebrate the holiday. What made it even better is that a dozen friends from my Uni Melb exchange semester hailed from Dublin, so it turned into a reunion where we rehashed on our good times down under, blissfully sipping on goon. Low and behold, the face paint was passed around so we could display our Aussie pride. We began the night at a house party 50 meters down under, and after cashing the boxed wine and cider, bused it to Woolshed on Parnell Street, an Aussie “baa”. It was a large sports bar, decorated in yellow and green streamers with their national flag plastered and kangaroo cutouts around the venue. The big screens featured Aussie footy and rugby. The bar was packed till late, filled with Aussies either passing through Dublin, studying, or had moved over from their motherland. Men at Work’s “I Come from a Land Down Under” was played every fifth or sixth song, before and after Kings of Leon’s “Sex on Fire” and several other songs that brought our Foster-ized brains back to the amazing days of life in Oz. On Australia Day in Dublin everyone was an Aussie, using Aussie slang, drinking Aussie beer, discussing Aussie sports. Then around 2am we left Woolshed to stumble back to Temple Bar, and it was raining. Indeed we were back in Australia — we were right back in Melbourne.