The afternoon has barely begun.
The small supermarket is at the top and there is a long line for the autonomous alcohol section which, in Australia, like the United States, is not sold to just anyone.
Adults and sober, we get away with the desired beers. The barbecue meat is about to disappear.
On the refrigerated shelf, packages of lamb chops stand out, which a scribbled white sheet promotes with creativity as nationalistic as it is basic: "Australia Day, Buy Australian Lamb".
We also find, at a special hyper-inflated price, kangaroo steaks with the characteristic shape of the big island, a trick of the sly marketing of the downunder where many ozzies they insist on falling.
In their spacious villa in Redcliffe, on the outskirts of Perth, Mick and Jamie prepare salads. Rod, our kind host, drinks Toohey after Toohey.
That way you can refresh yourself from the heat of the austral summer and the grill on which you cook your Barbie Favorite of the year.
Meanwhile, close family and friends burst into an already half-drunk fuss through the garden.
Half an hour later, the first ones come out burgers. the party goes on autopilot, as it does in hundreds of thousands of other villas across vast Australia.
The Always On Controversy Around Australia Day
Australia Day began in 1808. Since then, it has become the country's largest annual public event and a celebration as popular as it is controversial.
The date itself is contested for different reasons. To begin with, it marks the day of the founding of the colony of New South Wales (26 January 1788), an event that many consider not to have adequate national relief.
Afterwards, in the opinion of other contestants, it marks, above all, the beginning of the country's penal past since, on that date, the first British convicts were taken ashore.
The most serious of the gaps pointed out is the day chosen not to contemplate the aboriginal community that despises it whatever the perspective and prefers to call it Invasion Day, Survival Day or Day of Mourning.
On the 26th of January, Australia is in the midst of a summer vacation. Multimillionaire promoters run the biggest summer music festivals such as the Big Day Out, Hottest 100 and Australia Day Live Concert.
This last festival is broadcast on Aussies TV channels, similar to what happens with the exquisite galas of the Australian of the Year award and of some Citizenship Ceremonies that grant citizenship to more than ten thousand immigrants from the four corners of the world.
Other characteristic events of British “civilization” galvanize the nation at its own pace. International Cricket Test Matches drag on for days at the Adelaide Oval.
Meanwhile, an assortment of other competitions prove ozzie's vocation for sport and the outdoor life.
Against Australia Day, Aboriginal Survival Day
At the same time, in Sydney, with their backs turned to their fellow countrymen, the aborigines are carrying out the Survival Day Concert. This event commemorates the macabre fact that not all of its counterparts were killed by Europeans.
Parallel demonstrations take place in Australian cities with a greater presence of natives who also claim rights never granted by rulers such as the return of the vast occupied territories.
This counter-celebration has been going on for decades. It has managed to sensitize the authorities to the lack of common sense and sensitivity with which Australia Day was planned.
In such a way that, in the latest polls on the subject, 90% of Australians recognized the need to respect the Aboriginal population. And, as of 2006, the government of New South Wales it has introduced events such as the Woggan-ma-gule into the commemoration programme, which is attended by aborigines and seeks to honor the painful past of colonization.
Despite these and other attempts at reconciliation, the relationship with the natives remains unresolved. It does not seem to disturb the festivities prevailing either in Rod's villa, in Perth or in Anglophone Australia in general.
From Rod's House to the Shores at Swan River Party
We leave Rod's house. We follow the frenzied group towards the banks of the Swan River. We join the 400.000 sandgropers (inhabitants of Western Australia) who gather to watch the city's famous fireworks.
Along the way, we pass the gardens of other houses, also animated by barbecues by the swimming pools or on immaculate lawns.
Rod and his guests yell “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!!” speakerphone and in unison. On the opposite side of the street, drunk compatriots respond with an echo and demand a new repetition of the ritual.
Gradually, the spectators are distributed along the banks of the river. They ensure the best possible view of the metropolis' Central Business District where early lighting promises a dignified entrance to the big event.
At sunset, helicopters fly over the area and fly gigantic Australian flags.
Take the crowd to an ecstasy true blue easy that is vocalized with new Australian screams and reinforced by the waving of thousands of smaller flags.
When the noise subsides, a small middle-aged clan, already fed up with the screaming, foists “Waltzing Matilda”, one of the unavoidable themes of the traditionalist and nationalist Aussie songbook.
The motto catches. Out of nowhere, a sympathetic and moved choir sings and dances the song from beginning to end.
Other hymns almost follow, but with the night already settled, the first fireworks bursts over the skyscrapers across the Swan.
Both the firmament and the smooth surface of the river are filled with color.
The explosions repeat for forty minutes and mesmerize the spectators. For a moment, the great island nation indulges in the fleeting delight of that vision and ignores its unresolved dramas.
Or so feel the Australians who have never passed through them.