“The people of Canberra and surrounds had heard calls to support their compatriots who were doing it tough and responded with that big Australian heart. For we’re not just a country, it seems, we’re a community as well,” writes “The Gadfly” columnist ROBERT MACKLIN
I’M so over coronavirus; but that might be because I’ve had a shot of the best vaccine around – it’s extracted from the big heart of our fellow Australians.
It arrived with a wallop at the weekend when we set out on a planned celebration with friends who had just sold their Canberra home for quite a lot of money (so they were going to shout).
We were down at Tuross where the flames had spared us, this year at least, but in the aftermath the whole Christmas season was a bust for the businesses who rely on it to see them through the winter months.
So, even though Canberra Day made it a long weekend – and we’d noticed a few youngsters on skateboards cruising down Allenby Road – we knew there was no need to book a table at the Country Club. After all, the town is full of restaurants and take-aways.
So at 6.20 we strolled over to the club to await our guests, took the lift to the first floor while trying to decide whether to choose Australian or Chinese from the big, double-sided menu. But when the lift doors opened we just stood there, totally stunned. The entire floor was packed with visitors; every last place on the 100 or so tables was taken, and the waiting staff were ferrying great plates of chicken and corn and spuds and gravy to hungry customers.
We were flummoxed. We caught the lift back down just in time to intercept our friends. “Not a problem,” we decided. “Everyone’s here so the Pickled Octopus will be deserted. Let’s go.”
But there, the story was the same. “Unbelievable!” we cried. But at least, we knew from experience, the Chinese-Vietnamese restaurant in the village would have tons of room. And when we arrived, it too was packed but there were two bare tables… but both were “reserved”. They offered take-away, but they said it would take 90 minutes!
Same with The Tavern in the corner – packed to the gills. So at last we reached Sails which serves the best take-away fish and chips in town (except for the Boatshed). And in a mere 20 minutes we had our meals and were headed home to eat them, washed down with a very nice dry sauvignon blanc.
By then, I must confess, I was blinking back tears. For the people of Canberra and surrounds had heard calls to support their compatriots who were doing it tough and responded with that big Australian heart. For we’re not just a country, it seems, we’re a community as well.
And next night I watched in wonder and delight as 86,174 Victorians ignored the warnings of coronavirus to crowd into the MCG for the most glorious cricketing event there since the Ritchie Benaud/Frank Worrell test match of 1960.
The young women led by Meg Lanning who carried the Australian banner made glorious history for women’s sport. And again, one’s heart melted as the hundreds and hundreds of little girls in the bleachers and before the TV sets found heroes and role models in Elyssa Healy, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry and the other members of a great team.
But best of all, was the joyous spirit they showed in playing the game full of smiles and good fellowship. As indeed they do in the AFLW footy matches. Sure it’s a contest and they give of their best. But unlike the men, they know it’s still a game, and losing is not the end of the world.
We leave that to the maddies on unsocial media, at the stock exchanges and in supermarket aisles panicking about… that other thing.
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Ian Meikle, editor