When I asked my friend, M whether he knew why we celebrated Australia Day, I admit, I was a little dismayed when he answered in the negative. I am hopeful however that this is not a common trend and thus, I dedicate this blog post to him.
Australia Day, in short, commemorates the day that Captain Arthur Phillip (the first Governor of New South Wales) and the First Fleet convict ships arrived at Sydney Cove from England. In the morning of 26 January 1788, Captain Phillip along with his party rowed ashore, planted the British flag and performed a small ceremony. The new land was claimed for His Majesty and the small group drunk to his health, the Queen’s health, the health of the Prince of Wales and the colony’s future success. A gun salute was performed by marines and everyone cheered.
The new colony in New South Wales initially struggled for several years before it began to slowly find its feet. Eventually the people who had worked hard and prospered began celebrating the beginnings associated with their new homeland by holding an Anniversary Dinner.
From these humble beginnings the day eventually became known to all Australians as Anniversary Day. It wasn’t until 1935 however that all states and territories of Australia began to refer to the date as ‘Australia Day’ and began to celebrate the country’s origin as a whole.
- 1788 by David Hill (published by Random House, 2008).
- Australia Day website (http://www.australiaday.org.au/experience/).
- 1827 ‘Classified Advertising.’, The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803-1842), 26 January, p. 1, viewed 25 January, 2011, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2187503.