Historical Origins of Australia Day
Australia Day marks the date of the arrival of the first British fleet in Australia in 1788. The fleet arrived at Port Jackson – now Circular Quay in Sydney. Governor Arthur Philip raised the British flag and a penal colony was founded.
January 26th is the day Australia was officially recognized as British, not the date of its discovery. It is widely claimed that Australia was “discovered” eighteen years earlier, in 1770, by Lieutenant James Cook, but in fact, there is evidence of other explorers many hundreds of years earlier.
Australia Day has been named differently through history: Anniversary Day, Foundation Day, ANA Day… Australia Day grew in popularity in the late 1980s, and it was (only) in 1994 that all Australian states and territories embraced January 26th as a national holiday.
Australia Day Criticism: Invasion Day
Some people have started referring until now as Invasion Day, recognizing that this is the actual date the English invaded a land inhabitant by the First Nation’s people of Australia. For them, the beginning of the British colonization marks the massacre of millions of Indigenous People over the centuries. This trauma is still vivid in the memories of First Nation’s people, who feel treated as a minority and their rights neglected. For this reason, many people are suggesting the national day of Australia should be celebrated on a day that is not aligned with the invasion.
Thus, on Australia Day, it is not uncommon to witness protests aiming to raise awareness and debate the choice of date and its historical implication.
Some states are starting to integrate events related to First Nations Australians.
For example, in Sydney, you can attend a WugulOra Morning Ceremony, an ancient smoking ceremony that celebrates the world’s oldest living culture through dance, music, and language.
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How to celebrate Australia Day like a real aussie
Australians celebrate their National Day by meeting with family and mates, firing up a barbie and cracking open a cold beer.
Aussies usually celebrate at the beach or other outdoor venues, since it is still summer and the weather is good. There are many activities organized such as concerts, festivals, art exhibits, parades… Many city councils will hold a public fireworks display for all to enjoy!
Oh, and no matter what way you decide to celebrate Australia Day, don’t forget to wear funny clothing relating to Australia. The crazier, the better!