A group of diehard Australia Day supporters in Mornington will hold their own celebration on Friday (26 January) at Memorial Park in Barkly Street.
Their decision to hold a do-it-yourself celebration – including gumboot throwing – follows a decision by Mornington Peninsula Shire Council not to organise an event and community parade at Mornington.
The shire’s decision is in line with views expressed by the Premier Jacinta Allan who has cast doubts on Melbourne’s Australia Day parade ever making a return.
The state government last year shelved the event for the third consecutive after it was first cancelled in 2021 because of COVID.
On the peninsula the council is supporting the Rosebud Fun Run ($25,000) and Australia Day celebrations at Dromana ($25,000) and Mount Eliza ($13,000) and holding an invitation only citizenship ceremony at Rosebud Memorial Hall.
Other community-run events will be held around the shire, including at Sorrento and Portsea, with flag-raising ceremonies, music and children’s entertainment.
The shire has not held an Australia Day event at Mornington since COVID restrictions started.
An organiser of the Memorial Park picnic, Felicity Benson, said she and many others were disappointed the council had become too “woke” to celebrate Australia Day as in the past.
“It’s really disappointing for a lot of us that this has been scaled back so much and has become so small and politically correct. They are flying the LGBTQI flag, but what about the Australian flag?” she said.
“This is Mornington and we’d love an Australia Day celebration for everyone, the way it should be.”
Benson said the group held a similar picnic last year and invited others to join in.
“Last year we had a lovely group of newcomers to the peninsula from India, and we all enjoyed a picnic together in Mornington to celebrate the day,” she said.
“This year everyone is welcome to bring a picnic and join us.”
Benson said numbers at the picnic were limited to 50 due to council restrictions on public gatherings.
“I rang the shire and they said that they are not putting anything on for Australia Day this year and that it is up to the community to do something, so that’s what we are doing,” she said.
“We have no idea how many people would like to join in and bring their own picnic, but we’ll have children’s games, egg and spoon race, there will be free parking, and it will be fun.”