My Canadian friend first learned of Australia Day when he saw the snow bogans. It was 26 January in the Rocky Mountains, and three blokes were snowboarding bare-chested down the slope wearing Australian flags as capes.
He told me this story as we drove up a winding road to the Victorian alps on 26 January this year. Rather than white with snow, the grass was drought-yellow in the paddocks on the valley floor far below. At the car park to our hiking trail we applied sunscreen and tightened the chinstraps on our floppy hats. The sun was low in the sky but already searing.
As we took our first steps on the trail, I thought how my friend’s story provided a refreshing perspective on Australia Day. Rather than the conflict over colonial invasion, he had identified something else in the national holiday — a kind of yobbo pride at defying the elements.