Orana to Christmas Day


Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo

 Sydney, Christmas Eve Afternoon

‘Orana’ is an Australian Aboriginal word meaning ‘dawn’ or  ‘welcome.’  I first heard it in ‘Carol of the Birds,’ which my son and his primary school class sang at a Christmas concert.

Australian Christmas Songs

‘Carol of the Birds’ and ‘Merry Christmas to You’ are my favourite Australian Christmas songs.  The latter captures my feelings about Sydney Harbour, the ocean, and the great natural beauty of the water that surrounds this city I have called home since 1995.    

‘Carol of the Birds’ captures the rest of Australia for me.  Its native birds come in brilliant colours and have different, almost magical names – brolgas, bellbirds, currawongs, friar birds – yet they are real.  You know it when you hear the screech of a sulphur-crested cockatoo or the piercing chirp of a rainbow lorikeet.

And kookaburras really do sound like they’re laughing.

To our great pleasure, we receive occasional visits from some of these magnificent birds who seem well-adapted to Sydney city life. 



 Carol of the Birds by John Wheeler

  Out on the plains the brolgas are dancing
Lifting their feet like war horses prancing;
Up to the sun the woodlarks go winging
Faint in the dawn, light echoes their singing
Orana!  Orana!  Orana to Christmas Day.

  Down where the tree ferns grow by the river,
There where the waters sparkle and quiver,
Deep in the gullies bellbirds are chiming,
Softly and sweetly their lyric notes rhyming
Orana!  Orana!  Orana to Christmas Day.

  Friar birds sip the nectar of flowers,
Currawongs chant in wattletree bowers,
In the blue ranges, lorikeets calling,
Carols of bushbirds rising and falling
Orana!  Orana!  Orana to Christmas Day.

Rainbow Lorikeets

Rainbow Lorikeets

Happy Christmas to all who celebrate this holiday.

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