I am writing this column on the evening of ANZAC Day so it is impossible to sit down to write a column about my helicopter view and not be overwhelmed by the emotion of the day. Before I speak about some of that emotion, I want to think about the wonderful and unique country we live in. An alien visitor on ANZAC day (or even just someone form America) would have been completely confused while watching people play two-up. I love the simplicity and the honesty. The mateship that is inherent in every single Aussie comes to the fore on ANZAC Day – in particular around the two-up ring. A simple nod at a stranger on the other side of the ring and a point to your head and the agreement may as well be written in stone. Once the coins land the money is handed over. There are very rarely any arguments (and certainly never any arguments until alcohol enters the equation) and money is often passed around the ring to “the guy in the blue shirt”. No solicitors involved. No signed documents. No complicated process of how the process works. I believe that only in Australia would this scenario be possible. In America there would be lawyers on standby to sign the betting agreements in triplicate before each toss of the coin – but they would also create 17 other permutations that could be gambled on such as a certain run of heads or tails or betting would start on three coin combinations. They would have an electronic scoreboard on the side to show the run of heads and tails through the day including the stats for left-handed female throwers versus right handed males who held their tongue out while they threw.
Aussies also love simple games. Not to say we are simple – but why waste your time on complicated games when there are more important things to be consumed with. I remember the first time I stood in a casino and watched the game Craps. I had absolutely no idea what was going on. No such risk with two-up – you can pick up the game within seconds and start playing. Did you know that two-up has evolved from a game called ‘pitch and toss’ which was played with one coin? Pitch and toss was mentioned in legal documents in our country as far back as 1798 but the two-coin (and three-coin) versions started in the 1850s.
All of this comes back to the true ANZAC spirit. We are inclusive – we want everyone to play the game – and we are fair. We think nothing of handing over money to a stranger based on the trust of the transaction.
That ANZAC spirit was evident in ceremonies throughout the land. I was overwhelmed by the amount of people at our two morning ceremonies in Dubbo on ANZAC Day. I estimated well over 1000 people were at the Dawn Service and over 3000 people attended the 11am ceremony. At communities across the region, I heard anecdotal stories of hundreds of people attending a ceremony in small towns and villages with populations of only several hundred.
I met a Canadian at our ceremony yesterday who only came to Australia this year. She attended Australia Day and ANZAC Day (surprisingly similar events are not celebrated in Canada) and she was amazed at the community spirit shown on both days. She commented that whilst both events were very different – Australia Day being about celebration and ANZAC Day a more solemn reflection- she was very impressed by just how involved our citizens are in our community. I saw kids in school uniform on ANZAC Day; they had the day off school yet they still went to the effort of dressing in uniform and marching.
The Canadian lady I spoke to was correct, ANZAC Day is about solemn reflection. As I walked across to the Dawn Service I thought my hands were a little chilly. Then I stopped. I thought my little bit of discomfort is irrelevant compared to the pain and fear and suffering that was felt by those diggers back in 1914. I had the freedom to walk across a beautiful park – with my cold hands – because of the sacrifices of others. The two poems that were read out at the ceremonies on ANZAC Day brought home a succinct message to the thousands of people who gathered and certainly brought a tear to my eye. This solemn reflection is what ANZAC Day is all about.
When I bring all of this emotion and reflection back to a Local Government level, it comes back to what I have said many times. One of the great aspects of our community and in fact of many regional Council communities is the sense of community. The sense that we are all in this together and we all want the best for our community and region. We have a huge number of volunteers in our community and that is a great indicator of a strong community. Ultimately, councils struggle without the support of a strong community but luckily that is exactly what we have in Dubbo.
Let me know if you always bet on tails or heads at email@example.com
Clr Mathew Dickerson
Mayor of the City of Dubbo