Happy happy Wattle Day!
Who knew that 1 September is National Wattle Day. I’m not even sure how I came across this celebration of one of our most spectacular and prolific of plants – the glorious Golden Wattle, Acacia Pycnantha.
I’ve even asked friends and family if they had ever heard of it and the answer was 98% no. How can this be?
Well, let’s fix it people! Seriously, it’s our national floral emblem and where our green and gold comes from for pete’s sake – much more Aussie than the Brit red, white and blue.
a brief history…
The Tasmanian’s were the first to use Wattle as a national emblem at a regatta in Hobart in 1838.
The Vice Preso of the Adelaide branch of the the Australian Natives Association suggested the formation of a Wattle Blossum League in 1889. This is where the idea of using wattle as a national symbol was born and later on the League became the Wattle Club. South Australia continued to lead the way through the early 1900’s.
…it’s 1899 now and a Wattle Club is formed in Victoria by Archibald James Campbell. This gent was already talking up acacias on September 1 each year with tours of the You Yangs, Werribee Gorge and Eltham on the Yarra. He continued to campaign that September 1 be celebrated nationally as Wattle Day.
Not much happened for a while and then the Wattle Day League was created in Sydney in 1909, calling for a National Wattle Day and that a species of Acacia become our national emblem. South Australia, Victoria and Queensland followed suit establishing their own Wattle Day Leagues over the next 3 years.
1910 is a milestone. National Wattle Day is celebrated in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide with sprigs of Acacia pycnantha sent to the Governor and other important people.
In 1913 the Wattle is included in the new Coat of Arms design thanks to the recommendation of our then Prime Minister, Right Hon. Andrew Fisher and our first Wattle stamp is issued.
World War 1 hits and Wattle Day is used to raise money for our war effort and to promote patriotism, in what must have been some incredibly hard years.
Through the 20’s and 30’s Wattle Day is celebrated with a focus on charity fund raising. After World War 2 Wattle Day petered out until the early 80’s.
Green and gold were proclaimed our national colours in 1984.
It is not until 1988, our bicentenary, that Acacia Pycnantha is declared our national floral emblem and finally in 1992 September 1 officially becomes National Wattle Day – phew.
And yes, that is the condensed history, for the full history and heaps of other wattle info, go to worldwidewattle.com.
In honour of National Wattle Day I am going to attempt to make a Wattleseed Pav. Scarily it has to be rolled which I have not done before. Fingers crossed! If all goes well, I’ll post the recipe and some photos to our FB page. Also, check out the Acacia Album on FB.
Some thoughts on the future
I think all Acacias should be celebrated on Wattle Day, they are an amazing plant but this day should also celebrate the amazing contribution that Indigenous Australians made to managing this wide brown land of ours for over 50,000 years – there is absolute proof of this now. Check out these books – Bruce Pacoe’s Dark Emu, Bill Gammage’s The Biggest Estate on Earth:How Aborigines Made Australia and John Newton’s The Oldest Foods on Earth, they will blow your mind. We may not even have the diversity of acacias without their management.
More importantly, the traditional owners hold so much knowledge of our native flora and fauna, this land and it’s seasons, they had an incredibly intimate relationship with it for centuries. European settlers arrived with their ideas of what an intelligent society looks like and not only completely discounted the indigenous people, but systematically attempted to wipe them out or have them ‘assimilated’ into their society. I am ashamed that this is our history but it does not have to be our future. As John Newton writes in his book, let’s walk and eat together.