The very first thing that Australia presented of herself to the world in the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics was a galloping stockman.
This figure paused only long enough for his mount to rear up theatrically under the spotlights, before galloping off, ushering in 120 other, similarly mounted riders. Holding flags and clad in Akubras and Drizabones, they rode in formation to the music from the film version of The man From Snowy River.
I remember watching the ceremony on TV; at the time I didn’t really question the fact that the stockmen came on stage even before the depiction of Aboriginal Australia, but now I think it is so telling that THIS was the very first story that Australia wanted to tell about herself, before even the first people who lived on this land got a chance to tell their story.
More on that next week, but for now, watch the clip of that part of the ceremony. If you are Australian, and you don’t want to be manipulated into feeling ennobled and proud, try watching with the sound off!