Australia Day, the national holiday of the only country to take up an entire continent, is celebrated on 26 January. The date commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove and the first British settlement in Australia.
With some 237 Australians in Cayman on work permits, the nation is well represented and the day loses none of its importance even though it is on the opposite side of the globe.
Ron Hargrave, the chef at Deckers, has been in Cayman for many years and still celebrates Australia Day every year.
“It’s one of the biggest days of the year, when Australians get together and celebrate what it means to be Australian,” he says.
According to Tom Stephens, there is much to celebrate on the day.
“The big tradition in Australia these days especially for anyone younger than 30 is to have a barbeque with friends and listen to the triple J Hottest 100,” he says.
Triple J is a government youth radio station and plays more Australian bands than most commercial stations, making its top 100 list the perfect thing to listen to for anyone feeling patriotic on the day.
“In addition to backyard cricket, games in the pool, etc, there is a heap of official sport on. The Aussie cricket team always play and the Australian Open tennis is on,” adds Stephens.
Of course, the year-round warm weather in Cayman is perfectly suited to outdoor activities and even though Australia Day falls in winter time in the northern hemisphere, the outdoor games and parties have quickly become part of Australia Day celebrations locally.
“It’s a friends and family day. We started up an Australia Day party in 2002, and every year since a couple of e-mails go out, a couple of phone calls are made and everyone meets on the day to celebrate all things Australian,” says Hargrave.
The big Australia Day party in Cayman takes place at Stingers Restaurant and Bar at Comfort Suites on Saturday 30 January, with the action kicking off at 2pm. The poolside location of the venue makes it perfectly suited to the traditional outdoor celebration, with the Triple J top 100 providing the soundtrack for the day.
The day also features the Australia Day Games, which although not as competitive or serious as the Australian Open is still a hotly contested competition.
The day also features traditional Australian fare, including Australian burgers, Vegemite on toast, Lamingtons and of course Foster’s.
Deckers also plays host to regular Walkabout dinners, featuring a special Australian menu. According to Hargrave, the dinners will start up again in March.
Australia Day is not all fun and games though.
In Australia the day also plays host to citizenship ceremonies around the country, with new citizens pledging their allegiance to their newly adopted country.
The day also features the announcement of the Australian of the year winner, with past winners having included academics, sport stars, actors and musicians.
“It’s a great day to be an Aussie,” says Stephens.
Fast facts about Australia
* Apparently the first European settlers in Australia drank more alcohol per person than any other community in the history of mankind
* Australia is the world’s most urbanised country. 70% of the population live in the 10 largest cities
* There are 1500 hundred species of Australian spiders.
* Australia has have over 6000 species of flies, about 4000 species of ants, and there are about 350 species of termites in Australia.
* The Tasmanian Devil does exist, and it has the jaw strength of a crocodile.
* There are more than 150 million sheep in Australia, and only some 20 million people
* Star gazing: in the Australian Outback, the naked eye can detect about 5,780 stars.
* The Great Barrier Reef is the largest organic constrution on earth.
* Termite mounds are the tallest non-human constructions on earth.
Although there are a number of variations on the Australian burger out there, they all have one thing in common – beetroot. Although beetroot on anything, never mind a burger, might sound somewhat strange, Australians swear this is the only way to eat a burger.
120g minced meat patty
2 bacon rashers
1 slice cheese
1 slice onion
1 slice tomato
1 slice beetroot
1 pineapple ring
1 hamburger roll
-Cut the hamburger roll in half and toast both bun halves on the grill.
-Fry the meat patty, the bacon rashers and the onion.
-Flip the meat patty over and add cheese on top.
-Fry the egg.
-Assemble the hamburger with lettuce, tomato, beetroot, pineapple, patty, onion, bacon, egg and the bun top
The most famous of Australian sweet treats, Lamingtons, were named for Charles Cochrane-Baillie, 2nd Baron Lamington, who served as governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901.
1 slab sponge cake (one day old)
4 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup milk
2-3 cups desiccated coconut
-Cool cake in fridge, then cut into squares
-Combine sugar and cocoa in a large bowl
-Heat milk and butter in a saucepan until butter is melted.
-Add milk/butter mix to the sugar/cocoa mixture and mix thoroughly
-Place coconut in a plate
-Dip cake squares in icing mixture, roll in coconut and place on drying rack
-Allow to dry, the place in airtight container and leave for a couple of hours to allow icing to seep into