Girt – by the sea

Thursday, 2 June 2016

It’s the word in the Australia national anthem – Advance Australia Fair – which causes all the head scratching and sour expressions. Verse 1, Line 4:

Our home is girt by sea

Archaic word meaning surrounded by or washed by, ie Australia is an island. Oh really?

Today it’s Lines 5 and 6 of Verse 2 which cause all the problems:

For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;

GirtWe may indeed have ‘boundless plains,’ but these days we’re damned if we’re going to share them with anybody who dares to ‘come across the seas.’ It’s a non-issue in next month’s Australian general election, both the big parties have agreed that anybody who dares to ‘come across the seas’ will be immediately shipped off to one of Australia’s offshore prison camps and dumped their indefinitely. You have to vote Green if you disagree.

Girt: The unauthorised history of Australia, David Hunt’s highly amusing take on Australian history, goes right back to pre-history, Aboriginal settlement, European explorers and the development of the convict colony of Sydney.

You’ll have to wait for volume two to move on to the other states, the shift from colonies run from London to independence and the story of modern Australia.

Click here for an extract which conveys the flavour of the book, rolling out girtitude, girt-factor, girtuosity, girtage, girting and girtedness as well as girt (several times) in the first six paras.

Photographer © Tony/Maureen Wheeler & Richard I'Anson / Lonely Planet Images▲ I’ve got another connection with the book, when Maureen and I sailed down to Australia from Benoa Harbour in Bali, Indonesia way back in 1972 it was aboard the yacht Sun Peddler out of Auckland, New Zealand and our skipper was David Hunt. Not the same David Hunt who wrote this book. We caught up with our David Hunt in Tonga a couple of years back. The trip that took us from London (in a beat up old car) all the way to Afghanistan before finally arriving on a beach at Exmouth on Western Australia’s North-West Cape, led to us writing the very first Lonely Planet guidebook. Back then we were offered a share in those ‘boundless plains.’

???????????????????????????????Last year Maureen and I were back in Exmouth with some friends, swimming with the whale sharks amongst other activities, and we stopped by the Potshot Hotel. Where we’d had our very first beer in Australia, 43 years earlier.