G’Day HK! Australia Day Ceremony goes online

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Animals, Raw and Beautiful. 2021 Celebration of National Day is streamed via Facebook.

“Australia has many stories. These stories help us understand who we are as a nation and where we come from,” said Australian Consul-General Elizabeth Ward during the online national day event.

Held annually on 26 January, Australia’s national day had been previously celebrated by in person by members of the 100,000 strong Australians in the city. However, due to COVID-19, this year’s celebrations were condensed into a 40 minute long Facebook livestream.

Australian Consul-General Elizabeth Ward

“Some of these stories are the oldest in the world,” Ward continued.

“Australia’s first nation people have been custodians of our land and a rich continuous culture for more than 60,000 years.”

“Some are more recent from the Europeans … to waves of immigrants from Asia and beyond”.

“And of course, there is the Hong Kong Australia story which encompasses some of the earliest migrants to Australia,” she said, referring to Chinese immigrants which left from then British Hong Kong in the Australian Gold Rush of 1850.

The celebratory stream showcased the multicultural side of Australia with a focus on the aboriginal and Chinese, and featured interviews with aboriginal performer Danzal Baker and Michael Li, a Chinese Australian originally from Guangzhou. A motel owner in Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Li allowed refugees from the ‘Black Summer’ Bushfires of 2019-20 to stay free of charge.

Chinese-Australian Michael Li at his motel

Former Hong Kong sports reporter Vince Ng and Olympian Stephanie Au also made an appearance with clips of their 2018 Australian tourism series ‘Vince and Stephanie: Endless fun in Australia (家謙 · 淳玩澳洲團)’, as did local celebrity chef Wing Chee Wong, head of the Dragon King group of restaurants which celebrated Australian produce with innovative Chinese recipes. Australian Vice-Consul Suzanne Passmore also showed her hand at cooking, narrating a homemade recipe for Pavlova in Cantonese.

Other highlights of the stream included interviews with Koala Sanctuary at Port Stephens, and interviews with local Hong Kongers about what Australia meant to them (some answers were “Animals”, “Raw” and “Beautiful”), and words of thanks from various Hong Kong-Australian cultural and business groups.

Vice-Consul General Suzanne Passmore and a homemade Pavlova made with easily accessible ingredients in Hong Kong

The ceremony concluded with a traditional performance of national anthem ‘Advance Australia Fair’ sung by a vocal quartet, the ‘Australia Day Choir’.

26 January commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Port Jackson in modern day Sydney. The convicts, largely from England, became the first Europeans to permanently live in what is now Australia. The festival is not without its opponents and there are yearly counter-celebrations and protests on the same day from groups who see the date as commemorating European invasion and erasure of aboriginal culture.

In recent years, Australia Day has attempted to be more inclusive by celebrating Australia’s aboriginal and minority groups. In a coincidental link, Hong Kong was claimed by the British Empire on the same day in 1841 when the Union Jack was raised at Possession Point in modern-day Sheung Wan.

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