An Australian Christmas Compendium

From Quadrant‘s archives, a selection of Christmas reading.

Henry Lawson: An Australian Christmas
After the plum pudding and perhaps roasted turkey, two poems — ‘Along by Merry Christmas Time’ and ‘The Fire at Ross’s Farm’ — as reminders that while we inherited the traditions of a snowbound Yule, it is heat, smoke and the smell of burning bush that are more likely to mark our celebrations of the day. Read on…

Steele Rudd: Christmas at Snake Gully
‘Even the pet kangaroo was nearly jumping out of its skin; and it took the big black goanna that used to come after eggs all its time to beat Dad from the barn to the nearest tree, so fat was it. And such a season for butterflies and grasshoppers, and grubs and snakes, and native bears!’ Read on…

Roger Underwood: Christmas with Henry Lawson
Like Lawson, my Christmas memories contain some ghosts — my grandparents and parents among them — and some trying times, including being called away to bushfires as I was poised to carve the duck. Unlike Lawson, I’ve never had to dine on fried plum pudding and salt kangaroo. Read on…

Vanessa de Largie: Bah-Humbug to Christmases That Aren’t
Will ‘White Christmas’ by Irving Berlin, who happens to have been Jewish by the way, be targeted? A friend’s child was told that it would be best not to bring Christmas Cards to school lest they cause offence. At least her daughter didn’t have to endure, instead of Santa, the Sustainability Pirate. Read on…

Dave Pellowe: Swine Before Pearls
‘Tis the season to be quoting spurious scriptural interpretations in support of open-borders immigration policies. Baby Jesus was a refugee, don’t you know? A simple slogan for simple minds, it cannot withstand the slightest scrutiny. Yet year after year, that is what we are loudly and insistently told. Read on….

Lennie Lower: A Visit to Chatswood
Strictly speaking, the near-forgotten author of the similarly faded Australian classic ‘Here’s Luck’ isn’t writing about Christmas, although Jack Gudgeon’s attempt to reconcile with an estranged wife may serve as a reminder at this time of year that even the most appalling people warrant the kindness he was denied by a no less appalling mother-in-law. Worth noting, too, that long before Monty Python an Australian humourist pioneered the appearance of a dead parrot as an agent of mirth. Oh, and there’s a comatose dog and a shattered fence as well Read on…

3 thoughts on “An Australian Christmas Compendium

  • Botswana O'Hooligan says:

    Thanks for the offering for we live about a stone and half a throw away from Dad and Dave country (Drayton) and things haven’t changed much since my forebears came here from Ireland and Western Europe to farm, steal each other’s livestock as a hobby, and develop the land in the 1860’s. “Stone picking” my great grandfather called it, not b…dy developing the land, and pyramids of stones around in paddocks are proof of that. Great grandparents and oldies were still around alive and kicking in the 40’s when I was a kid and Steele Rudd could be writing about any of them for that’s the way people were, and some still are.

  • Stephen Due says:

    Much-loved in days gone by, but rarely heard now, are the Australian Christmas Carols by two ABC staff members: the scriptwriter John Wheeler and the Director of Music William G. James. The first five carols were published in 1948, and others followed in the 1950s. There have been numerous recordings, one of which can be heard here:
    Their appeal lies mainly in the evocative lyrics by John Wheeler, who succeeded in capturing the ‘feel’ of a summery Christmas in Australia. Sadly, as with all Christmas songs, the story they tell is now largely without a cultural context, since only a small minority have any regular connection with churches.

  • phicul19 says:

    Dad, who was a farmer, did a proper Australian Christmas tree. He cut off a branch of a gum tree and put it in a 4 gallon drum in the kitchen.

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