Monday, November 3, 2008

Line Dancers Converge On Christmas Island For 50th Anniversary Celebrations

Christmas Island is a territory of Australia and lies in the Indian Ocean. It is located about 500 km south of the Indonesian island of Java. With an area of 135 square kilometers, Christmas Island is approximately half the size of Penang Island. Captain William Mynors of the British East India Company gave the island its name when he arrived on the island on December 25 1643. In 1887, phosphate was discovered on the island which led to the annexation of the island by the British Crown on June 6 1888. Phosphate mining began in the 1890s using indentured labour from China and the Malay archipelago. Sovereignty of the island was transferred to Australia in 1958 and Territory Day is celebrated on October 1 every year with much gusto by the islanders.

This year, Christmas Island celebrated its 50th year of being a territory of Australia. The celebrations somehow attracted the attention of a group of more than 100 Malaysians comprising dancers, marathon runners as well as friends and family who cleverly combined the idea of a holiday, anniversary celebrations, dance workshop and half marathon all in one. On Oct 3, the group flew to Christmas Island on a chartered flight. The next day the dancers took part in a line dance workshop conducted by Australian dance instructor Chris Watson who had come to Christmas Island with three of his dancers from Tamworth, New South Wales. Watson belongs to a dance group called Dare To Dance ( which conducts workshops around the world.

The group of line dancers comprised mainly of dancers from two studios in Selangor, namely Jasz Dance and Studio 33 who meet regularly for parties and workshops in the Klang Valley. (For more information on their line dancing activities, contact Jasz Dance at 012-6551164 or Studio 33 at 012-3880315). The runners from Malaysia and their Christmas Island counterparts also took part in a half marathon. The 21 km "JW Flora and Fauna Fun Run" hosted by the CI Cricket and Sporting Club ( took the runners through the woods and roads of the beautiful island. Scott Fischer, president of the CICSC said the club hoped to organize a full marathon in future.

The population of Christmas Island stands at about 1000; made up roughly of 70% Chinese, 20% Europeans and 10% Malays. The island is noted for its lush tropical rainforest, amazing flora & fauna, birdlife, beautiful beaches and stunning landscapes. It is also famous for its red crabs and robber crabs, known elsewhere as cocunut crabs. The annual red crab mass migration to the sea to spawn has been called one of the wonders of the natural world and takes place every year around November. More than 60% of the island is now under the protection of the Australian Parks Authority. The park on the island contains the last remaining habitat of the endangered Abott's booby and the only nesting sites of the Christmas Island frigate birds

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