Australia Day has not always been 26th January. In 1915, it was celebrated on 30th July in order to raise funds to help sick and wounded soldiers.
On Saturday 2 October, The Australasian published a letter by a young girl describing some of the sights in the Rutherglen district on that day. It was obviously a memorable day for her. She describes selling wattle “to help the soldiers” in the morning and a ride on the teacher’s motorcycle to see the cars and flags on display.
Times have definitely changed – her teacher would most certainly not be praised for taking “little girls on his motor-bicycle” today!
Nathalie Dugay from Dugay’s Bridge, Rutherglen). – “Dear ‘Patience,’ – I was very glad to see my letter in the ‘Young Folk’s Page,’ and I am going to write you a longer one this time. I am in the third grade at school now; my brother Lance is getting on well, too, he’s in the second grade. We have a new teacher since I wrote to you last; but we have only got half-time school now, and I do not like it so well as the full time, as I sometimes forget things the teacher tells me when there is a day in between with no school. Our new schoolmaster has a motor cycle; and sometimes he takes us children for little rides up the road; it is lovely to ride on it. On Australia Day he took two of us in to Rutherglen to see the motor cars and the shops all decorated with flags and wattle; we had a half-holiday; I enjoyed myself very much, I sold some bunches of wattle in the morning at our school to help the soldiers. We had our school decorated with flags and wattle, and the Union Jack, and the Australian flags. My father put a French flag on the longest pole, because it is the flag of his native land. On the days that there is no school our grandma gives lessons in French; we do not know much yet, but some day I hope we will, because my father and grandma speak French as well as English. We have had a lot of rain lately, and the grass is growing well; also the crops. This is very pleasant to see after the drought. I remain your correspondent, ‘Nathalie.’ ” – I must compliment you on your writing, Nathalie; it is so well formed and very clear. In learning French you have a great advantage over most children, as you hear it spoken in your own house by French people; and that is quite the best way to acquire a language. What a good natured teacher you have to give you those rides; it is not every man that will take little girls on his motor-bicycle. – Love from “Patience.”