Afghanistan comes to Mildura, AustraliaThursday, 26 January 2012
▲ Afghan kite, Australian gum tree
Australia Day on 26 January is Australia’s equivalent of the USA’s 4th of July or France’s Bastille Day (there isn’t a UK equivalent). I go some- where in the state of Victoria every year as part of the ‘Australia Day Ambassador’ program and this year I went to Mildura, on the Murray River up in the north-west corner of the state.
It’s a standard pattern, the Lions Club puts on a barbecue, the flag gets raised, the national anthem is sung, the local mayor and I make speeches, the brass band (and a local rock band) play, a dozen people (in Mildura) are awarded Australian citizenship, hard working local volunteers are commended. It’s all good!
◄ Plus there are peripheral activities before and after the ceremonies and Mildura had one that I loved. Many refugees have settled in Mildura in recent years and a group of young guys from the Mildura Afghan community set up a table to show the kids how to make and fly kites.
It was perfect, anybody who has been to Afghanistan – and I’ve been lucky enough to go there back in the 1970s and again in 2006 – will know how important kite flying is in Afghanistan. In the kite flying season the Afghan skies are alive with kites.
As the Australia day event in Mildura wound down happy kids departed toting their Afghan-designed kites. ►
I went on to have a look around Mildura, including a visit to Rio Vista, the 1889 home of W B Chaffey, the Canadian born irrigation engineer who can claim to be the founding figure of the modern town. ▼