Preparation is your best friend when you plan a big Australia Day get-together with family and friends. Here’s how you can get it right, writes Roy Fleming.
Whether you are staying at home or in a BIG4 Holiday Park, you need to tick a few boxes to make your Australia Day barbie work. You’ve invited all your friends over, so having a decent barbie game is important.
When they party, some Australians seem to go colour-blind – which is how recyclable material can often end up in the general waste bin and vice-versa. Make it easy on your guests by having a waste disposal plan before you start.
It would be almost sacrilege to listen to anything other than Triple J’s Hottest 100 on Australia Day, right? Er, wrong. Triple J’s most famous countdown might be synonymous with January 26, but it has been held on many different dates, including March 5 when it first hit the airwaves in 1989.
The broadcaster has decoupled from the controversial January 26 date and will instead play a Hottest 100 Weekend – which entails the Hottest 100 on Saturday and the Hottest 200 on Sunday (for songs that missed out).
Other broadcasters have stepped in with countdowns of their own on Friday, January 26. Check local guides for more information.
Not everyone wants to wear pluggers, stubbies and singlets for Australia Day – so we’ll focus instead on the essentials you need before stepping out and igniting that (clean and re-gassed) barbeque prior to the big day.
Sunblock: It’s late January but that doesn’t mean you can’t find yourself being slow-roasted throughout the day. More than 750,000 Australians are treated every year for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers. Non-melanoma skin cancer is more common in men, with almost double the incidence compared to women. Cover all exposed skin with sunscreen of at least 30+ SPF and re-apply every two hours and after swimming or exercise.
How much sunscreen should you apply? According to the website Choice.com.au, sunscreen needs to be ‘applied liberally’ which in simple terms means:
Wear a hat: A decent hat is almost as important as sunscreen. Get one, preferably wide-brimmed, so it protects your nose and ears.
You start seeing cars with the obligatory double-flags flying usually a couple of days before and after Australia Day.
I usually go one step too far in the lead-up to Australia Day and buy merchandise I don’t really need, like glittery fedoras and plastic aprons – but I also bought a pair of Australia Day thongs last year from Aldi and they survived most of 2017, until my dog Frankie ate one in December. Cost? $2.
You can buy everything you need from supermarket chains, newsagencies and other outlets in the lead-up to Australia Day – but beware if you leave it too late. The kids will cry if they don’t have face paint (Australian flag colours) on the day, and you will pay about three times more for everything on the 26th. Be a legend and shop early.
Since you are a person who has filled the barbeque bottle with fresh gas, cleaned the grill, bought thick and fresh protein to cook, considered your waste disposal strategy, applied excellent-quality sunscreen, have a wide-brimmed hat and bought all your merchandise in advance, you will know that none of this matters if you haven’t prepared a decent cricket pitch for Australia Day.
That means you’ve tightly mown a thin strip of your lawn at least 10m-long and a metre wide for a clash of the titans that will take place after lunch. You have proper stumps (or a garbage bin), a decent bat, room for fielders and at least one tennis ball, preferably taped on one side with electrical tape to generate perverse swing.
Please remove tape for younger players – or newbies to the sport – and enact the one-hand-one-bounce rule to dislodge overly-confident batters, and give second chances to those who lose their wicket first ball.
You can also buy decent cricket sets at supermarkets prior to the big day.
If you are in a park, simply join in at cricket matches being held throughout the open areas. There’ll be plenty of them underway, and extra fielders are always handy (as well as new friendships).
Australia Day is a family day/weekend, and if you are staying in holiday parks you have to remember there’ll be an awful lot of children and other parents subjected to your behaviour, good or bad. Probably best then to offer them your best side with a responsible attitude to alcohol.
Just be aware drinking in the middle of day in direct sunlight is not something most of us do every day. Take it easy, be self-aware and drink plenty of water. Eat some food, play some cricket and be sure your guests are safe and happy.
That’s how you build annual get-togethers everyone looks forward to, and lasting memories and connections with family and friends.
Do you have your own Australia Day tips?
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