Thursday, January 26, 2017

Australia Day 2017


Today is Australia Day. 

Some trivia . . . 

Australia Day is the official National Day of Australia. It is celebrated annually on the day on which it falls, 26 January, so there is no extra day off if the day falls on a weekend. It marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, and the raising of the flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip.


The loss of the Thirteen Colonies in North America had prompted England to send 11 ships under Captain Arthur Phillip to Australia, to establish a penal colony. It arrived in Botany Bay between 18 and 20 January 1788, that location having been explored and claimed by James Cook for England in 1770, but it was unsuitable for a settlement. On 21 January, Phillip and a few officers travelled to Port Jackson, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) to the north, to see if it would be a better location for a settlement. They stayed there until 23 January; Phillip named the site of their landing Sydney Cove, after the Home Secretary, Thomas Townshend, 1st Viscount Sydney. They also made contact with the local Aboriginal people.They returned to Botany Bay on the evening of 23 January, when Phillip gave orders to move the fleet to Sydney Cove the next morning, 24 January. A huge gale prevented the proposed move. 

On 25 January the gale was still blowing; the fleet tried to leave Botany Bay, but only HMS Supply made it out, carrying Arthur Phillip, Philip Gidley King, some marines and about 40 convicts; they anchored in Sydney Cove in the afternoon. On 26 January, early in the morning, Phillip along with a few dozen marines, officers and oarsmen, rowed ashore and took possession of the land in the name of King George III. The remainder of the ship's company and the convicts watched from on board Supply. Despite mishaps including collisions, all the remaining ships finally managed to clear Botany Bay and sail to Sydney Cove on 26 January. The last ship anchored there at about 3 pm.


The formal establishment of the Colony of New South Wales did not occur on 26 January as is commonly assumed. It did not occur until 7 February 1788, when the formal proclamation of the colony and of Arthur Phillip's governorship were read out. The vesting of all land in the reigning monarch King George III also dates from 7 February 1788.

Captain Arthur Phillip

King George 111

The First Fleet consisted of two naval escorts, three supply ships and six transport ships. The First Fleet carried more than 1300 people made up of 569 male convicts, 191 female convicts, marines and their wives and children and government officials.

HMS Sirius, the flagship of the First Fleet. It was wrecked on a reef at Norfolk Island in 1790.

As the convicts who had settled the 'new colony' were not proficient in farming and the government food stocks began to run low, the British Home Secretary, Evan Nepean, decided as well as food the colony needed women and children, to prosper. Female criminals, prostitutes, destitutes were gathered from London and surrounds and were shipped off on the Lady Juliana to help stabilise the new colony. 

Lady Juliana

The Lady Juliana began its ten month journey, to Australia, in July 1789. During the course of the journey the women cohabited with crew members and entertained men at every port of call. The ship became known as "The Floating Brothel" and was not received with 'open arms' when it arrived in Sydney Cove. However three weeks later, when the four supply ships arrived, Sydney Cove took a turn for the better. Many of these women were in a good financial position when they arrived in Sydney, in June 1790.

A Sydney sculpture known as "The Bonds of Friendship" commemorates the First Fleet.

It is a companion piece to one erected at Portsmouth Harbour, England.

The Bonds of Friendship sculpture was originally erected outside Customs House, Circular Quay but now resides in the Jesse Street Gardens, just near Macquarie Place, Sydney.

Symbolically, the chain extends from Portsmouth to Sydney over the route travelled by the First Fleet. The last two links of the chain form the memorial and cement the bonds of friendship between Britain and Australia represented by Portsmouth and Sydney. The surfaces of the sculptures are also rich in symbolism; the Portsmouth one has a dull painted surface to denote the ‘old country’ and the links of the chain in Sydney are highly polished brass to represent the ‘new country’.

Speaking of the bonds of friendship, some Australians, particularly Indigenous Australians, regard Australia Day as a symbol of the adverse impacts of British settlement on Australia's Indigenous peoples. 

The celebrations in 1938 were accompanied by an Aboriginal Day of Mourning. 

A large gathering of Aboriginal people in Sydney in 1988 led an "Invasion Day" commemoration marking the loss of Indigenous culture and some Indigenous figures and others continue to label Australia Day as "Invasion Day", with protests occurring almost every year, sometimes at Australia Day events.

Some indigenous organisations have suggested that the day be referred to as Survival Day, rather than Invasion Day, to acknowledge the survival of indigenous culture.


In 2014 retailers Aldi and Big W sparked controversy when they advertised Australia Day t-shirts bearing the slogan "Australia: Established 1788". After an outcry that the t-shirts were racist and offensive, the companies withdrew them from sale.


The cottage in Melbourne of the parents of Captain Cook regularly gets targeted for protest graffiti about Australia Day.

The cottage was purchased in England and transported to Melbourne, where it was rebuilt brick by brick. 

Although it is not known whether Cook lived in the cottage, he certainly visited his parents there.

When Cook explored Botany Bay in 1770, his party shot an indigenous male for throwing stones at them, thereby setting the tenor of relations for the next 247 years.



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