Earlier this month, we marked the occasion of Territory Day, as we normally do, with a week-long celebration. This year the ceremony also encompassed the Mooncake Festival and a family sports day. So what’s it all about anyway?
On the first of October 1958, the sovereignty of Christmas Island was transferred from the UK to the Commonwealth of Australia.
The Christmas Island Agreement Bill included an “ex gratia payment of approximately 2,800,000 pounds to the Singapore Government to compensate for the loss of revenue from royalties and rent, which were applied to Singapore when the island was a British Colony”.
This significant event in the island’s history is, of course, celebrated in true Aussie style, with a week’s worth of events that includes a raft race and flour bomb attacks.
According to long-term resident Karenn Singer:
“The community comes together on the first Monday of October at Flying Fish Cove to celebrate with good food, company and sunshine. The fishing competition weigh-in is always entertaining and often comes to the wire at midday before the winners are announced.
“The highlight of Territory Day is the decoration and fancy dress efforts of the raft race which involves kids and adults. For the less competitive there is always the friendly flour bomb attacks.
“The week-long celebration actually goes for at about ten days. This year it has included the marathon and the Chinese Mid Autumn Mooncake Festival as well as a family sports day, Cove Day, markets and entertainment.
“The comraderie and celebrations which show the Islander spirit and the multicultural community features in food, dance and song – this year I particularly enjoyed seeing the kids join in the dancing and drumming. #keepingthetraditionalive
“One of the highlights is the sweet revenge of sinking the local police sergeant in the dunking machine at the Family Sports Day.”
Long term resident Katrina Bird adds:
“The Cove becomes alive with market stalls including food, drinks and gift items and some information booths. There is often a stage set up with music by way of either a local band or a stereo set up. Face painting, treasure hunts and lots of other activities for children.
“The highlight of the day is the Raft Race where homemade rafts battle each other in the sometimes difficult conditions. Flour bombs and other fun items are used as “weapons” to ward of the competitors.
“When I came to the island Territory Week commenced with the opening of the Arts & Culture Exhibition and continued with a week of varied activities including Sports Day on the Sunday prior to the long weekend, kite flying, an auction to raise funds for island organisations, car rally, markets, badminton tournaments and many other things.
“The last few years have seen a decline in activities and Sports Day and Cove Day seem to be the main events – the Raft Race is probably the highlight of the week.
“One of the most memorable events for me is the wheel barrow race – placing one or both of my children in a wheel barrow, racing others to a mound of coconuts, tossing the child out so that he/she could throw the coconuts in the barrow, the kids jump back in and away we would race to the finish line. Many times this event ended in tears!
“There are so many memories and all of them amazing.”