Posts Tagged ‘Australia day’


January 23, 2018

Celebrating Australia

We all as a nation enjoy celebrating our existence, I have always loved being a part of that day we all embrace our nation, our culture and future, patriotically flying the flag.

The issue for me is the chosen date, very few seem to care, and with current debate on the use of January the 26th which appears to conflict with so many of our people, should we all revisit our short history to ensure any debate is equitable and educated?

It is a known fact that the 26th of January back when the first fleet arrived, was the beginning of a long conflict, between the British settlers and the indigenous of this nation, which went on to become a date for mourning for the Aboriginals.

The same day is also known to our indigenous as the start of the “Frontier wars” a part of history all but hidden from view.

As early as 1838 it was documented that the Aboriginal people used the date (26/1) as a day of mourning, also so around that same time, back in 1837, Sir Henry Parkes, Premier of New South Wales, while planning something for everyone, or almost everyone, foundation day in NSW, when questioned about what was being planned for the Aborigines, Parkes replied; “And remind them that we have robbed them”.

At this early stage of our history, both the first settlers and the indigenous population were all aware that the date (26/1) had not been a great day for our nations original inhabitants, long before it was designated as “Australia Day”.

The issue for me however, is not just about the treatment of the Aboriginal people, it is all about what defines us as a nation, so reflection on what happened back on the 26th of January 1788, is worthy of debate.

The British arrival in or around January 1788 to the land they had called “New Holland” was not their first visit, Captain Cook had already proclaimed NSW for Great Britain back on the 22nd of August 1770.

The first fleet were issued orders by the Queen under the letters patient, a document basing its mandate on the Pacific Islanders Act, legislation written to protect the native inhabitants of all lands in the area, in which the commanders were to “live in amity and kindness” with Indigenous people of this “New Holland”.

What this means to we the Australian people, is that the first fleet broke the law. If we go back to that same time in January 1778, we also find disturbing information relating to the treatment of the convicts. Where early records speak of deplorable acts inflicted on the woman convicts that arrived on the first fleet.

The more one studies January 1788, the more we find reasons not to celebrate that time in British history as an Australian nation.

The fact remains, Australia was not founded in 1788, New Holland was, for Great Britton, and the day the first fleet arrived offers us very little to celebrate.

There are moments in this nations history that may be worth celebrating, and that is what we should be debating, do we stick to a certain date just because it has been the case since 1988, such a short time ago, or do we consider a new date that is worthy of celebrating for all Australians including our indigenous?

Here are a few examples to consider;

1984 – Australians ceased to be British subjects. Advance Australia Fair replaced God Save the Queen as the national anthem, 22 November

1901 – The Australian colonies federated to form the Commonwealth of Australia. 1st of January.

1901 – Federation became entrenched on the 9th of May.

1911 – Empire Day was announced as the first “Australia day”, May 24

1915 – July 30th was called “Australia Day” to help raise money for Aussie troops.

1953 – The Australian blue ensign was designated the Australian national flag and given precedence over the Union Jack, 15 April

1901 – Australian flag became, 3 September. 20 February 1903 it was gazetted by the British parliament.

1854 – December 3, Eureka Stockade, considered the birth place of Australian democracy.

To celebrate a date in history that defines Australia as a nation, is where any debate ought to start, if we are to change our national day of celebration.

Back in the late 1800’s through to the early 1900’s the concept of us even being Australia, let alone citizens called Australian’s, were considered novel ideas, even by the courts.

The concept we were no longer a convict settlement of Great Brittan, and were becoming our own nation, started in late 1890’s and to be honest completed at the time of the writing of our Constitution, back in 1901, January 1. The trouble with that date is it lines up with New year’s celebrations.

Many believe May 9th is a better choice, or maybe go down a more bogan path and call it May 8, as it rhymes with Mate 😊

For me personally, I celebrate each day in this nation as a great one, and I am more appalled at our lack of interest in the future, than any mistakes made in the past.

Let’s hope if the date is going to change, that it is chosen as a date that both defines our great nation and unites all its inhabitants, both past indigenous peoples and we as current ones in this great Southern Land.


Mark Aldridge


Australia day 26/1, what are we celebrating?

August 28, 2017

Australia day, what does it celebrate.

Before 1770 – Aboriginal peoples had been living for more than 40 000 years on the continent we now know as Australia. At least 1600 generations of these peoples had lived and died here.

Europeans from the thirteenth century became interested in details from Asia about this land to the south. From the sixteenth century, European cartographers and navigators gave the continent various names, including Terra Australis (Southern Land) and New Holland.

1770 – Captain James Cook raised the Union Jack on what is now called Possession Island on 22 August to claim the eastern half of the continent as New South Wales for Great Britain.

1788 – Captain Arthur Phillip, commander of the First Fleet of eleven convict ships from Great Britain, and the first Governor of New South Wales, arrived at Sydney Cove on 26 January and raised the Union Jack to signal the beginning of the colony.

Captain Arthur Phillip, was instructed to “live in amity and kindness” with Indigenous Australians

Note; Phillip went on to ignore the Kings mandate that he negotiate for use of the Land, as did Cook under the letters patient., and so the slaughter began.

1788 – The Australian frontier wars began, they were a series of conflicts that were fought between Indigenous Australians and British settlers, with an estimated 30 to 30,000 aboriginal people being killed, these battles continued until around 1934.

1804 – Early almanacs and calendars and the Sydney Gazette began referring to 26 January as First Landing Day or Foundation Day. In Sydney, celebratory drinking, and later anniversary dinners became customary, especially among emancipists.

1818 – Governor Macquarie acknowledged the day officially as a public holiday in NSW on the thirtieth anniversary. The previous year he accepted the recommendation of Captain Matthew Flinders, circumnavigator of the continent, that it be called Australia.

*1837;  Sir Henry Parkes, Premier of New South Wales, planned something for everyone, or almost everyone. When questioned about what was being planned for the Aborigines, Parkes retorted, ‘And remind them that we have robbed them?

1838 – Proclamation of an annual public holiday for 26 January marked the Jubilee of the British occupation in New South Wales. This was the second year of the anniversary’s celebratory Sydney Regatta.

By now, the other state had their own day for their foundation.

1838 – Aboriginal people started to morn the 26th of January

1871 – The Australian Natives’ Association, formed as a friendly society to provide medical, sickness and funeral benefits to the native-born of European descent, became a keen advocate from the 1880s of federation of the Australian colonies within the British Empire, and of a national holiday on 26 January.

1888 – Representatives from Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and New Zealand joined NSW leaders in Sydney to celebrate the Centenary. What had begun as a NSW anniversary was becoming an Australian one. The day was known as Anniversary or Foundation Day.

1901 – The Australian colonies federated to form the Commonwealth of Australia. The Union Jack continued as the national flag, taking precedence over the Australian red and blue shipping ensigns gazetted in 1903.

Federation became entrenched on the 9th of May 1901 was the first day Parliament of the commonwealth sat. Schools were still celebrated federation day under the British flag.

Melbourne was the interim federal capital. The Australian Capital Territory was created out of New South Wales in 1908, the federal capital named Canberra in 1913, and the Parliament House opened there in 1927.

1911 – Empire day was earmarked as the first “Australia day”, May 24 was the date.

1915 – July 30th was called “Australia Day” to help raise money for Aussie troops.

1930 – The Australian Natives’ Association in Victoria began a campaign to have 26 January celebrated throughout Australia as Australia Day on a Monday, making a long weekend. The Victorian government agreed with the proposal in 1931, the other states and territories following by 1935.

So the first national day was a public holiday Monday, not a set date!

1936 – Aboriginal people labelled 26th of January “Day of mourning”

1938 – While state premiers celebrated the Sesquicentenary together in Sydney, Aboriginal leaders met there for a Day of Mourning to protest at their mistreatment by white Australians and to seek full citizen rights.

1946 – The Australian Natives’ Association prompted the formation in Melbourne of an Australia Day Celebrations Committee (later known as the Australia Day Council) to educate the public about the significance of Australia Day. Similar bodies emerged in the other states, which in rotation, acted as the Federal Australia Day Council.

1948 – The Nationality and Citizenship Act created a symbolic Australian citizenship. Australians remained British subjects.

1954 – The Australian blue ensign was designated the Australian national flag and given precedence over the Union Jack. The Australian red ensign was retained as the commercial shipping ensign.

1960 – The first Australian of the Year was appointed: Sir Macfarlane Burnet, a medical scientist. Other annual awards followed: Young Australian of the Year, 1979; Senior Australian of the Year, 1999, and Australia’s Local Hero, 2003.

1972 – Tent embassy was established by Aborigine elders, opposing the date chosen for Australia day.

1979 – The Commonwealth government established a National Australia Day Committee in Canberra to make future celebrations ‘truly national and Australia-wide’. It took over the coordinating role of the Federal Australia Day Council. In 1984 it became the National Australia Day Council, based in Sydney, with a stronger emphasis on sponsorship. Incorporation as a public company followed in 1990.

1984 – Australians ceased to be British subjects. Advance Australia Fair replaced God Save the Queen as the national anthem, we were now all Australians.

*1988 – Sydney continued to be the centre of Australia Day spectacle and ceremony. The states and territories agreed to celebrate Australia Day in 1988 on 26 January, rather than with a long weekend.

Australia day was therefor created in 1988.

Aborigines renamed Australia Day, ‘Invasion Day’. The Bondi Pavilion protest concert foreshadowed the Survival Day Concerts from 1992.

1994 – Celebrating Australia Day on 26 January became established. The Australian of the Year Award presentations began alternating between Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane.

2001 – Centenary of federation. The National Australia Day Council’s national office had returned to Canberra the previous year. In 2001 the Council transferred from the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts to that of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Australians’ growing familiarity with the Australia Day holiday led the Council to focus on shaping their awareness of its significance and meaning.

2004 – The presentation of Australia Day awards — the focus of Australia Day — became fixed in Canberra.

The Australian frontier wars were a series of conflicts that were fought between Indigenous Australians and mainly British settlers that spanned a total of 146 years. The first fighting took place several months after the landing of the First Fleet in January 1788 and the last clashes occurred as late as 1934

To summarise, New South Wales — Sydney especially — has long celebrated 26 January to mark the beginning of British occupation of Australia. Victoria and the other Australian states and territories, persuaded by the Australian Natives’ Association, came to accept Australia Day by 1935, celebrating it together with a long weekend. Since 1979, federal government promotion of an Australia Day that was less British and more Australian gave the day a higher profile in the hope of unifying Australia’s increasingly diverse population. The long weekend gave way to the day itself in 1994, and ten years later Canberra displaced Sydney as the day’s focal point.

Dates for Australia day have been numerous, 9th of May is the day we became federated, NSW had 26th of January as their special day, other states celebrated their dates coinciding with settlement as British colonies.

The Australian name and flag were created long after Phillip landed in NSW and proclaimed it as a British colony.

May 24th, May 9th, July 30th have all been called Australia day at different times in Australia’s history.


However, Aboriginal Australians have continued to feel excluded from what has long been a British pioneering settler celebration, symbolised by the raising of the Union Jack and later, on another date, the Australian flag which bears the British flag. Debate over the date and nature of Australia Day continues as the National Australia Day Council seeks to meet the challenge of making 26 January a day all Australians can accept and enjoy.

I am uncertain Phillips landing and proclamation as a British colony is the right date, considering it is such a sad one for the Aboriginal people.

You can add to this brief overview of history if you like or use it to research an ideal day to celebrate, but for me, it best be a date that genuinely celebrates Australia as a nation, so I would say May 9th, but each to their own.

The date should be able to be celebrated by all Australians, including the original people of this land.

Mark Aldridge