We were at the Royal Easter Show on Sunday and we went in to see the wood chopping. What is an Australian show without the big blokes in singlets having at blocks of wood with axe and saw?
On the way into the show I saw a few young fellows walking around using an Australian flag as a kind of dress or cape on top of the jeans and t-shirt – maybe trying to look or feel Aussie, I can’t help but think back to some of the social problems on Australia Day and at other times in our recent past.
However, to sum up what is Australia, there was the junior underhand wood chop handicap about to start. The young blokes lined up with their axes and the count started ((In the handicap, the number of seconds from the start are counted off and each competitor starts a different number of seconds in)). The race was exciting but what was truly magnificent was young Tom.
Tom was kind of smaller than the other boys and all the other boys had finished when Tom was still cutting. Watching, we could see the axe getting heavier and heavier as Tom tried to complete the cutting of the log. Ten seconds passed, then another ten, then another ten. Tom was tiring, we could all see that but he would not quit. The other boys all moved up to stand around Tom and his mentor and they were all encouraging Tom. The crowd was cheering Tom on and Tom kept hitting that log with his axe, then wrenching the axe free.
Tom finished to a big cheer from the crowd and from the other competitors. He finished maybe 2 minutes after that last of the other boys. Tom, however, and his competitors as well as the audience, all showed the Australian spirit, all showed what it is to be Australian.
Tom was not going to quit – he just had to keep going until he finished, no matter how far behind the other boys he finished.
Tom’s competitors, all finished and tired from their own efforts, took the time to encourage a fellow competitor, to urge him on and to help bring him home rather than just sit and relax.
Tom’s mentor kept encouraging him positively, encouraging him to continue and not to quit.
The audience kept encouraging Tom, willing him to cut through that log.
This then is what Australia has always been about – about being the best you can be and being appreciated for that effort. It is a great example of the spirit of Australia and reflects more the country, the philosophy and the oneness with Australia than walking around wearing an Australian flag does.
Well done Tom, his mentor, the competitors and the audience – I think that was the proudest I have been as an Australian, especially with my partner there and me able to say “this is what Australia is all about”.