Australia Day facts


AUSTRALIA Day is nor­mally filled with mu­sic, back­yard cricket, wa­ter­slides or swim­ming pools, the Aus­tralian flag on togs, tow­els and fake tat­toos, a bar­be­cue and loads of lam­ing­tons.

How­ever, it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber why the na­tional pub­lic hol­i­day is cel­e­brated and the sig­nif­i­cance of the date, Jan­uary 26.

Even though Cap­tain James Cook raised the Union Jack for Great Bri­tain in 1770, it was 1788 when Cap­tain Arthur Phillip, com­man­der of the First Fleet of 11 con­vict ships from Great Bri­tain ar­rived at Sydney Cove on Jan­uary 26.

Foun­da­tion Day or the First Land­ing Day, was cel­e­brated as a pub­lic hol­i­day in New South Wales un­til 1888 when all the colonies joined in with cel­e­bra­tions prior to fed­er­a­tion of Australia in 1901.

In 1930, Foun­da­tion Day was re­named Australia Day and be­came a na­tional pub­lic hol­i­day.

In the fol­low­ing 30 years, Jan­uary 26 be­came the pub­lic hol­i­day, the Na­tion­al­ity and Cit­i­zen Act was cre­ated for peo­ple to gain Aus­tralian cit­i­zen­ships and the first Aus­tralian of the Year was ap­pointed - Sir Mac­far­lane Bur­net, a med­i­cal sci­en­tist.

Young Aus­tralian of the Year fol­lowed in 1979, Se­nior Aus­tralian of the Year in 1999 and Australia’s Lo­cal Hero in 2003.

Dur­ing the past 224 years the im­por­tance of cel­e­brat­ing Australia Day has changed from ac­knowl­edg­ing when the first fleets landed in Australia to en­cour­ag­ing na­tional pride and unity for all Aus­tralians.

His­tor­i­cal mo­ment: Pic­ture of the tall ships of the First Fleet at an­chor just inside Sydney Har­bour, NSW, in 1788

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