Australia Day

27 Jan

Australia Day

What does Australia Day mean to Aussies? It can mean many things, going to the beach to soak up the sunshine and playing cricket, putting on a BBQ full of snags with an esky full of beer, giving up a date with Tom Cruise because mum’s cooked a lamb roast, becoming a citizen of this country of ours, or just enjoying plain old vegimite on a slice of toast with a cuppa.

Australia Day (previously known as Anniversary Day or Foundation Day) is the official national day of Australia. Celebrated annually on 26 January, the date commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove, New South Wales in 1788 and the proclamation at that time of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia (then known as New Holland). Although it was not known as Australia Day until over a century later, records of celebrations on 26 January date back to 1808, with the first official celebration of the formation of New South Wales held in 1818. It is marked by the presentation of the Australian of the Year Awards on Australia Day Eve, announcement of the Australia Day Honours list and addresses from the Governor-General and Prime Minister. It is an official public holiday in every state and territory of Australia, unless it falls on a weekend in which case the following Monday is a public holiday instead. With community festivals, concerts and citizenship ceremonies, the day is celebrated in large and small communities and cities around the nation. Australia Day has become the biggest annual civic event in Australia.

On 13 May 1787 a fleet of 11 ships, which came to be known as the First Fleet, was sent by the British Admiralty from England to Australia. Under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip, the fleet sought to establish a penal colony at Botany Bay on the coast of New South Wales, which had been explored and claimed by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770. The settlement was seen as necessary because of the loss of the Thirteen Colonies in North America. The Fleet arrived between 18 and 20 January 1788, but it was immediately apparent that Botany Bay was unsuitable.

On 21 January, Phillip and a few officers travelled to Port Jackson, 12 kilometres 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 had some contact with the local aborigines.

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. That day, there was a huge gale blowing, making it impossible to leave Botany Bay, so they decided to wait till the next day, 25 January. However, during 24 January, they spotted the ships Astrolabe and Boussole, flying the French flag, at the entrance to Botany Bay; they were having as much trouble getting into the bay as the First Fleet was having getting out.

On 25 January the gale was still blowing; the fleet tried to leave Botany Bay, but only the 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 the Supply. Note that the formal establishment of the Colony of New South Wales did not occur on 26 January, as is commonly assumed. That 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.

1818 was the 30th anniversary of the founding of the colony, and Governor Lachlan Macquarie chose to acknowledge the day with the first official celebration. The Governor declared that the day would be a holiday for all government workers, granting each an extra allowance of “one pound of fresh meat”, and ordered a 30 gun salute at Dawes Point – one for each year that the colony had existed. This began a tradition that was retained by the Governors that were to follow.

In 1988, the celebration of 200 years since the arrival of the First Fleet was organised on a large scale, with many significant events taking place in all major cities. Over 2.5 million people attended the event in Sydney. These included street parties, concerts, including performances on the steps and forecourt of the Sydney Opera House and at many other public venues, art and literary competitions, historic re-enactments, and the opening of the Powerhouse Museum at its new location. A re-enactment of the arrival of the First Fleet took place in Sydney Harbour, with ships that had sailed from Portsmouth a year earlier taking part.

Since 1988 participation in Australia Day has increased and in 1994 all States and Territories began to celebrate a unified public holiday on the actual day for the first time. Research conducted in 2007 reported that 27.6% of Australians polled attended an organised Australia Day event and a further 25.6% celebrated with family and friends making Australia Day the largest annual public event in the nation. This reflected the results of an earlier research project where 66% of respondents anticipated that they would actively celebrate Australia Day 2005.

Outdoor concerts, community barbecues, sports competitions, festivals and fireworks are some of the many events presented in communities across Australia. These official events are presented by the National Australia Day Council, an official council or committee in each state and territory, and local committees.

Citizenship ceremonies are also commonly held with Australia Day now the largest occasion for the acquisition of Australian citizenship. On 26 January 2011, more than 300 Citizenship Ceremonies took place and 13,000 people from 143 countries took Australian Citizenship. In recent years many citizenship ceremonies have included an affirmation by existing citizens. Research conducted in 2007 reported that 78.6% of respondents thought that citizenship ceremonies were an important feature of the day.

The Governor-General and Prime Minister both address to the nation. On the eve of Australia Day each year, the Prime Minister announces the winner of the Australian of the Year award, presented to an Australian citizen who has shown a “significant contribution to the Australian community and nation”, and is an “inspirational role model for the Australian community”.[30] Subcategories of the award include Young Australian of the Year and Senior Australian of the Year, and an award for Australia’s Local Hero.

Debates about the Australian of the Year award often revolve around the relative balance between sport, science and the arts. Fourteen winners have excelled in sports as diverse as cricket, swimming, athletics, sailing, tennis, boxing and motor racing. A recurring criticism that sport features too regularly peaked in 2004, when Steve Waugh was the fourth sporting winner in seven years and the third Test Cricket Captain to be honoured. Despite the perception of an over-emphasis on sport, the list of past winners reveals a strong endorsement for scientific achievement; by 2009 thirteen Australian scientists have received the honour, including a remarkable ten from the medical sciences. A long-term view also reveals that Australia’s talented artists have not been neglected; ten winners have excelled in creative pursuits, including six musicians, a dancer, a painter, a comedian and a Nobel Prize winning novelist.

Many Australians of the Year do not fit neatly into categories such as sport, science and the arts. Phillip Adams once described the past winners as ‘an eclectic collection of people who reflect the diversity of achievement in this country. Australians of the Year have also excelled in public administration, the military, social and community work, business enterprise, academia, religious leadership and philanthropy. There has been relatively little public debate about the gender balance of past winners. In 1961 several news outlets incorrectly referred to Sir Macfarlane Burnet as ‘Man of the Year’; the mistake was not allowed to continue, as Joan Sutherland took out the second award, but it is certainly true that women are under-represented. This year it was the Turn of Ita Buttrose.

Former copy girl, journalist, famous lisper, editor-extraordinaire. The woman who, as editor of the Australian Women’s Weekly, liked to catch the bus to work because bus trips were an excellent time to read and touch up nail polish.The lady – because she is a real lady – whose brains and strength of character saw her become the first female appointment to the News Ltd board (she said she ”often felt lonely”). The single working mother who rejoiced when retail trading hours were extended in 1984 because it had been such a terrible rush, cramming all that kid-ferrying and shopping into short Saturday mornings. She is both one of us and the best of us. Members of the media are not often accused of good works, but Ita Buttrose, named Australian of the Year for 2013, has used her enormous profile to commit worthy acts far nobler than her profession.

For some Australians, particularly Indigenous Australians, Australia Day has become a symbol for adverse effects of British settlement on Australia’s Indigenous people. 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. The anniversary is also known as “Survival Day” and marked by events such as the Survival Day concert first held in Sydney in 1992, celebrating the fact that the Indigenous people and culture have not been completely wiped out.

In response, official celebrations have tried to include Indigenous people, holding ceremonies such as the Woggan-ma-gule ceremony, which was held in Sydney in 2006 and honoured the past and celebrated the present; it involved Indigenous Australians and the Governor of New South Wales.

The Australian flag is always flown with pride, whilst there are many who would disagree there are many ways our national flag is displayed & worn, the traditional flag pole, hats, t-shirts, towels also tattoos. It’s alway interesting to see how it’s displayed.

There are many different types of food from sausages on the BBQ, meat pies, the good old lamb roast to a bucket of prawns and a dozen oysters. One of my favorite foods to consume is the old Aussie lamington, it’s a sponge cake dipped in a chocolate sauce then dipped straight away again in shredded coconut. You also can’t pass up a glass of red wine accompanied by different varieties of cheeses and dips while sitting on your mates back deck looking out over the bush listening to the bell birds sing away.

One small trivial fact a lot of Aussies don’t realize is the English beat the french fleet commander Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse into Sydney by a few hours only. Just think, we could be now putting garlic into our escargot instead.

Last but not least are the stories told about Australia through the eyes of Australians such as our famous poets to name a few, Dorothy McKellar, Banjo Paterson & Henry Lawson. One of the most famous Australian poems is ‘My Country’ by Dorothea Mackellar, which begins by contrasting the English landscape praised by English poets with that of the harsh Australian bush. The second stanza of this poem is copied here.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me!

Australia really is the lucky country.

Some of these photos I’ve included are courtesy of our friend Jodi & Vince which were taken this year, thanks guys.

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