This year’s celebration of Australia Day in Split featured a number of events staged on January 23rd and 24th. The event closed with a gala cocktail at the Radisson hotel, featuring an exhibition of Antun Krešić photographs entitled Australia in the Eyes of Croatians.

Last year saw the first ever celebration of Australian Days in Split, organised by the Split branch office of the CHF and staged at the Marko Marulić Municipal Library. A large number of Croatians from the southern Dalmatia region have relatives “Down Under,” but there are also those who have returned from Australia and now live and work in Split. For them this is a special day as it connects them to the country in which they were born or spent a part of their life. For years they gathered to celebrate Australia Day at one of Split’s many cafés, and recently, encouraged and assisted by the CHF branch office in Split, they founded a Croatian-Australian Society in Split, which will also be celebrated soon with a programme for the occasion.
Australia celebrates its national holiday in memory of the arrival of the first fleet of British colonists and convicts in Sydney on January 26th 1788.
As last year’s celebration was a modest one, and the staff of the Australian embassy were very understanding in the demands of organising Australia Day this year in Split. The celebration featured a series of events staged on January 23rd and 24th.
Ambassador Susan Cox gave a lecture at the multifunctional auditorium of the University Library in Split on the topic of education in Australia. The University of Split has for a number of years now had a signed cooperation agreement with Macquarie University in Sydney. Dr Danijel Džino of the university and Dr Ante Milošević, director of the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments in Split, gave a lecture on Bribirska Glavica – its historical significance, an overview of the research and the future of the “Croatian Troy”.
That same day an exhibition was opened at the Gothic council building on Narodni Square in Split featuring Australia’s Aboriginals entitled Yilpinji – Love, Magic and Ritual, which will be open to the public through to February 14th.
The following day a children’s workshop was organised at the Marko Marulić Municipal Library led by consul Dijana Grahovac. She related to the children the story of Australia and the story of Dreamtime, about how the birds acquired their colours. She then joined the children in painting boomerangs and Australian animal masks. An Australian Corner was also opened at the library for which the Australian embassy provided fifty books, films and CDs. This will certainly be material for further work, not only at the library, but also within the newly founded Croatian-Australian Society in Split.
Australia Days closed with a gala cocktail at the Radisson hotel, where the gathered were welcomed by Ambassador Cox. On display was an exhibition of Antun Krešić photographs entitled Australia in the Eyes of Croatians.

Text by: Branka Bezić Filipović