‘In Straya, We Speak English’, Said The Australian Flag Clad Patriot to The Aboriginal Pitjantjatjara Speaker


A lot of things got said on ‘Straya Day’, some of which just simply can’t be taken back.

Think Mitchell Pearce. Think Miranda Devine. Think The Australian editorial for January 26, and every day before it.

Think Jacqui Lambie… but maybe have a few drinks first.

In the broader defence of our nation, some of it, of course, was glorious, such as this sign outside a coffee shop in Bermagui, on the South Coast of NSW.


You can read more about that here, courtesy of the good folk at the Bay Post/Southern Star*.

But amidst all the chaos, there’s one thing that was said that should be required reading for all Australians. This blog post from an Aboriginal woman in South Australia.

And a spoiler alert, NM readers are probably going to react most strongly to this part: “I stopped at the shops on the way back home from working on my street art piece, and my baby daughter got out of the car.

“In her typical, gives-no-fucks fashion, she ran off and I called her back, speaking to her, as I often do, in our native Pitjantjatjara language: “Awa! Ngala pitja! Pitja!!! Wanti! (Hey! Come here! Come! Stop!)

“A 20-something woman with Australian-flag novelty-leggings yelled at me: “Hey! It’s Australia Day! We speak English in Australia!!” I was aghast. I thought surely she must be joking. I’ve read stories of things like this on the internet but surely it doesn’t happen in real life.

“Pardon me?” I asked.

“It’s AUS-STRAYA-DAY. WE SPEAK ENG-LISH” she said obnoxiously, speaking slowly as to ensure comprehension because obviously I’m either intellectually disabled or stupid.

“I’m speaking my native Australian Aboriginal language. It’s Pitjantjatjara? I couldn’t get more Australian!!” She stared at me blankly before walking off.”

We’ve got a way to go, people.

* Declaration: NM editor Chris Graham was, in a previous iteration (about 15 years ago), editor of the Post/Star.


New Matilda is independent journalism at its finest. The site has been publishing intelligent coverage of Australian and international politics, media and culture since 2004.