They used to say ‘you can’t take it with you’ when I was growing up. This is because post The Great Depression and World War II Aussies (and the English at home) had become good at sharing a good time on limited resources. It was all about people communicating in community.
Around the barbie, down the pub, at the beach, outback dancing in a shearing shed to the sound of country music, or playing footie or cricket on a picnic in a park were all shared weekly experiences. And, we communicated well – we talked and sang often. And, we also danced a lot and generally had a really good time.
The three east coast cities of Australia were founded in a time when world dominating nations were busy colonizing newly discovered parts of the world. We turned out to have a British experience here that while perhaps not the best option for the land’s indigenous peoples, has over the past two hundred years become a home away from home for people from all around the world who shared their displacement.
Many arrived post the second world war looking in this seemingly ‘lucky country’ for something beyond their sad and extreme experiences elsewhere. They have come from all cultures and all backgrounds and today we are embracing the prevailing attitude, which is that we are all in this together. Life is a shared human experience that crosses all boundaries, including culture.
This week I have come to Sydney to celebrate the birth 40 years ago of my second son, to share a little wine and some sweet words. And, I have enjoyed some very fulfilling moments with some very special people.
One of the much enjoyed wines was a magnum of 2010 Turkey Flat Rosé, which disappeared rapidly over a shared luncheon. The guests were passionate lovers of the performance and the visual arts. They also had a lot to share about the positives and negatives of producing and funding events that enrich people’s lives and contribute to their inner well being.
There was a lot of sweet words spoken, some very passionately and it seemed as we were drinking this liquid gold from the Barossa Valley, that it represented all that is good about Australia and its lifestyle. It was a bright ruby colour, a true gem – fresh and invigorating on the palate, sweet and light hearted, sometimes complex but always elegant with just a dash of effervescence.
The question was asked did I consider Sydney offered a more wide ranging in depth experience of the arts than I had experienced at Brisbane and Melbourne, both places that I have lived in over the past 12 years. My answer had to be yes. The cultural mix, the innovation and creativity, much of which is still completed on scary small budgets is palatable at Sydney.
One of the guests was associated with the wonderful Pinchgut Opera, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Established by friends who believed in the power of early music to inspire, it has worked hard to cover its costs and make performances pay not just in monetary terms, but in the enrichment of people and their lives.
Sydney is amazing really. It never fails to engender me with a new sense of hope. It’s something in the air. The people are confident, sure of their own worth and surging ahead, embracing change, which as in any progressive society is constant. They don’t look back as much as they look forward, trying to build on tradition while imagining and inventing the new.
Carolyn McDowall, Sydney March 24 2011