26 January has long been known as Australia Day, but it is not without its detractors. Wikipedia gives a pretty good account of the ins and outs: Australia Day (aka Foundation Day, Anniversary Day, Survival Day, Invasion Day, Day of Mourning). The problem is we don’t have a national revolution to recall, as do France, the USA, or China. What we have thus far chosen is the anniversary of the gathering of the First (convict) Fleet at Sydney Cove.
By the afternoon of the 26 January 1788, all of the fleet was at anchor in or near Sydney Cove. Before sunset, the British Flag (Queen Ann)was raised in the name of George III of Great Britain.
In 1808, the day was celebrated as the "First Landing" or "Foundation Day", as the colony had survived for twenty years, despite the initial hardships, deprivation and starvation suffered by the First Fleet settlers.
My ancestor, not counting those of them here for 40,000 years or so already, arrived in 1822. We now know he was apparently a convicted horse thief from, originally, Ballyhagen Co Kildare Ireland.
This year controversy has begun to simmer over the appointment of leading Indigenous advocate Mick Dodson to the honour of Australian of the Year. Dodson has been quick to suggest our National Day is rather inappropriate; he’s not the first to think this. Opposition foot-in-mouth artist Tony Abbott has been equally quick to respond, demonstrating yet again why he isn’t leader of the Opposition and never should be. I found Abbott’s argument smacked very much of the pot calling the kettle black, if you will all forgive my rather infelicitous phrase there.
I am very much taken with one alternative suggestion: 9 July. “Constitution Day, 9 July is also suggested as a possible alternative, commemorating the day in 1900 when Queen Victoria gave her assent to the Constitution of Australia.” Not to mention that this is also my birthday. What could be more appropriate? 😉
Another objection to the present day, of course, is that it’s very much a NSW thing, and even more a Sydney thing. There is something in that.