(Banksia serrata in the hall for 'Australia Day')
January 26 1788. Very likely hot and humid. The First Fleet has moved into Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) with the French not far behind and replacing it in Botany Bay. The Union Jack is planted ashore. Possession is declared and established by whatever it takes. It begins.
I'd recommend Thomas Keneally's The Commonwealth of Thieves to anyone interested in this extraordinary establishment of a far off colony (equivalent to putting a colony on the moon these days some have said). Keneally recreates the first four years of settlement, the Philip years. Here's Kate Grenville's review, and she'd know a thing or two, she who wrote the marvellous The Secret River.
So, we are stuck with what was once Foundation Day now being Australia Day and my sentiments are exactly these. If we must have a national day, then one day may it be Republic Day.
Down here, I've doused the house in Banksias (such exotica that would take his name Sir Joseph wouldn't have found on the moon) and have decked one table with bark from the Scribbly Gums.
Scribbly Gums are things of wonder. They are Eucalypts. There's several varieties and particularly common are E haemastoma and E sclerophylla. I've planted heaps (I'm told by recent guests from NL that using this word collectively like this is an Australian pecularity, so on this day etc) of E sclerophylla.
The scribbles are the wiggly lines remaining in the creamy white trunk when the bark peals off and these beautifully etched tracks are the paths taken by the larvae of the scribbly gum moth burrowing away under the bark wandering back and forth getting wider and wider from laid egg till pupation.
The markings are on both the bark and the trunk, and when you find a piece of marked bark, it is such a lovely thing that you think you might get it framed, or at least post it twice.