Today is January 26th and January 26th is
I’m not going to go into too much detail about Australia Day because 1) You can find out all you need to know by typing “Australia Day” into Google, like I did. And 2) It’s Australia Day, it’s a national holiday. I should be swinging in my hammock with a tinnie in my hand, not posting an article.
Image courtesy of Leonard Low
But I will tell you a bit about it, just to build up a thirst before I hit the garden. Apparently, on January 26th, 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. The raising of the Union Jack there symbolised British occupation of the eastern half of the continent claimed by Captain James Cook on 22 August in 1770.” ***
Is Australia Day enjoyed by everyone? It seems not. Aborigines have declared their opposition to the celebrations of 26 January. In 1988, posters summarised their protest: ‘WHITE AUSTRALIA HAS A BLACK HISTORY — DON’T CELEBRATE 1988’; ‘AUSTRALIA DAY = INVASION DAY 1988. I suspect they have a point. When ol’ Arfur parked his boat at Sydney and dumped 11 boats worth of crooks into New South Wales whilst pitching the Union Jack, you can understand the locals feeling a bit put out.
What happens on Australia Day? The Aussies know how to party. I had the choice of The Australia Day Festival over at the South Bank Parklands, (The South Bank is great, I’ll make a video about it one day), The Australia Day Concert at South Bank Piazza, The 10,000 Steps Walk at Brisbane City Gardens Rotunda, (too hard), The Australia Day Lunch, $130 a head, (too posh for me), Multi-Faith Ceremony, Suncorp Piazza (9:00 AM, too early for me) or The Flag Raising Ceremony, Cultural Forecourt, Grey Street, South Bank Parklands (not my cup of tea).
It got me thinking about England. Didn’t we use to have St. Georges day? Well, I think we still technically do, but didn’t we used to celebrate it? Nowadays I think it just “slips by” like a normal day. No chance of Australia Day slipping past here. But then Australia is still a country pumped full of pride.
So what did I decide to do in the end? I went with my original idea. The hammock, the back garden, some tinnies and some friends round. But here’s a laugh. It’s Australia. It’s effectively Bank Holiday Monday…. and it’s raining. Some things never change. If it had been a sunny day I would have liked to go the the South Bank, but my garden has a tin roof area. So the garden won.
*** Source: George Mackaness, ‘Australia Day’, Royal Australian Historical Society Journal, vol. 45, Pt 5, Jan. 1960.
To find out more about Australia day visit http://www.australiaday.org.au/
Footnote: Unlike the UK, in Australia, when it rains on a “Bank Holiday Monday” it is likely to stop. Become sunny again. And hot.