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Here are some facts about Australia Day but don’t expect the media to educate you with these facts as it’s not part of their agenda: –

  1. Australia Day does not celebrate the arrival of the first fleet or the invasion of anything.
  2. Captain Cook did not arrive in Australia on the 26th January, but occurred on the 28th April 1770
  3. The first fleet arrived in Botany Bay on 18th January, and the 26th was chosen as Australia Day for a vastly different and important reason.

The 26th of January is the day Australians received their independence from British Rule, however, Captain Cook’s landing was included in Australia Day bi-centenary celebrations of 1988 when Sydney-siders decided Captain Cook’s landing should become the focus of the Australia Day commemoration. Sadly, the importance of this date for all Australians has begun to fade and now, a generation later, it’s all but lost.

As Captain Cook didn’t land on the 26th of January, changing the date of any celebration of Captain Cook’s landing will have no impact on Australia Day, but it may clear the way for the truth about Australia Day.

Australians of today abhor what was done under British governance to the Aborigines, the Irish and many other cultures around the world. So, after the horrors of WW2, we decided to try and fix it. We became our own people.

On 26th January 1949, the Australian nationality came into existence when the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 was enacted. That was the day we were first called Australians and allowed to travel with passports as Australians and NOT British subjects. In 1949 therefore, we all became Australian citizens under the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948.

Before that special date, all people living in Australia, including Aborigines, were called ‘British Subjects’ and forced to travel on British passports and fight in British wars. This is why we celebrate Australia Day on the 26th January. This was the day Australians became free to make our own decisions about which wars we would fight and how our citizens would be treated. It was the day we were all declared Australians.

Until this date, Aborigines were not protected by law. For the first time since Captain Cook’s landing this new Act gave Aboriginal Australians the full protection of Australian Law. This is why 26th January is the day new Australians receive their citizenship. It is a day which celebrates the implementation of the Nationality of Citizenship Act of 1948 – the Act which gave freedom and protection to the first Australians and gives all Australians, old and new, the right to live under the protection of the “Australian Law”, united as one nation.

What was achieved that day is something for which all Australians can be proud.

Isn’t it time therefore that all Australians were taught the real reason we celebrate Australia Day on 26th January? In one way or another, we are ALL descendants of Australia … all of us. We should all be celebrating and giving thanks for the freedoms, the lifestyles and opportunities that we currently enjoy, thanks to the strengths and battles of our ancestors.’

Update

1788 facts, as evidenced in historical sources – these are not individually cited as these details are uncontested, and necessary one is that for 26 January:

18 Jan, the first ship of the First Fleet anchored in Botany Bay, and explorations began for a suitable place for a settlement.

20 Jan, the last ship arrived anchored in Botany Bay.

21 Jan, they decided Botany Bay was unsuitable; 3 boats scouted Port Jackson and found Sydney Cove.

25 Jan, the first ship sailed to Sydney Cove and anchored.

26 Jan, a landing party from that ship went ashore in the morning, and later, in Governor Arthur Phillip’s own words (from The Voyage of Governor Phillip to Botany Bay): “In the evening of the 26th the colours were displayed on shore, and the Governor, with several of his principal officers and others, assembled round the flag-staff, drank the king’s health, and success to the settlement, with all that display of form which on such occasions is esteemed propitious, because it enlivens the spirits, and fills the imagination with pleasing presages.” It took several days for all ships to move to Sydney Cove, and more for all passengers to come ashore.

07 Feb, the formal proclamation of the colony and of Phillip as Governor was read, and also various
letters patent establishing courts etc.

History of celebrating on 26 January, samples as evidenced in historical sources:

1808, the earliest record of unofficial celebrations on 26 January, 20 years after the arrival;

26 Jan 1818, the first official celebration as Foundation Day, for the 30th anniversary.

26 Jan 1838 was the Colony’s first declared public holiday, for its 50th anniversary.

26 Jan 1888, all colonial capitals except Adelaide celebrated Anniversary Day.

1915-1919 an “Australia Day” was observed on various days in July for raising funds for the Red Cross Society’s work on behalf of the Australian soldiers, especially wounded ones.

Mon 27 Jan 1930, Australia Day was reported in Queensland as being observed on this day,1 and also in Western Australia.2

26 Jan 1931, Victoria was to have adopted the name Australia Day for this date.3

Mon 01 Feb 1932, Victoria observed the Australia Day holiday.4

1935, all Australian States and Territories adopted the name Australia Day for the 26 January
commemoration.

Wed 26 Jan 1949, Australia Day, the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948, having received Royal Assent on 21 Dec 1948, was proclaimed and took effect; new passports from this date would list the bearer as an Australian citizen as well as a British subject.5

Mon 31 Jan 1949, the Australia Day public holiday was observed (at least in NSW).

26 Jan 1994, Australia Day became the day of the public holiday in all Australian States and Territories, that is, not moving it to a Monday (although the day off transfers to Monday from Sunday), without any indication that it was to honour the 1949 proclamation of the 1948 Act.

Conclusion

The claim that the 26 January national public holiday was established to celebrate the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 taking effect in 1949 is false; Australia Day, on or near 26 January, was already being celebrated as the anniversary of the founding of the colony that developed into the Commonwealth of Australia. This date was chosen for the Act’s proclamation because of its preexisting observance.

That 1948 Act was not about enshrining a distinct national identity but was part of “Common Code” developments throughout the British Empire. Canada had passed its Canadian Citizenship Act in 1946, taking effect in 1947; then the Commonwealth discussed the matter of nationality and citizenship in 1947 at its conference, where it was decided that each member country would pass its own citizenship law; the UK’s British Nationality Act 1948 took effect throughout the Empire on 01 Jan 1949; New Zealand’s British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act 1948 took effect on 01 Jan 1949. South Africa’s Act was later in 1949. Australians were still classified as British Subjects until 1984.


1 Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton), Tue 21 Jan 1930, p.12, Letters; Townsville Daily Bulletin, Sat 18 Jan 1930, p.2, the Pimlico Racing Club of Townsville advertised the Australia Day Pimlico Open Handicap.

2 The Southern Cross Times (WA), Sat 25 Jan 1930, p.7, Advertising: “Australia Day. Monday will be a public holiday in honor [sic] of the anniversary of Australia, which falls on Sunday this year. For the Government offices and the Bank it will be a close holiday, and the Post Office will be open for an hour till 10 a.m. for transaction of ordinary business.”

3 The Age (Melbourne), Fri 16 Jan 1931, p.6, News of the Day: “Australia Day or Foundation Day? It was generally understood that as a result of the agitation of the A.N.A. the holiday on 26th January each year would in future be officially known as Australia day, and not Foundation Day or Anniversary Day, by which titles it had been known in different States since the holiday came into vogue. Australia day is regarded by most patriotic Australians as the more appropriate title, and as this year the holiday fails on the actual anniversary of the establishment of settlement in Australia it was regarded as fitting to make the alteration. Though the Victorian Government promised to give favorable [sic] consideration to the change it has not been made, for a notification in the Gazette issued yesterday announced that public offices would be closed on Monday, 26th January, “Foundation Day.” The Williamstown, Racing Club, which has held it meeting, on this holiday for many years, has altered the title of its principal event from the Foundation Cup to the Australia Day Cup.”

4 The Age (Melbourne), Sat 09 Jan 1932, p.10, News of the Day: “Australia Day. Monday, 1st February, will be observed in Victoria at least as Australia day. It is a proclaimed holiday, and as such comes within the scope of the operation of wages board determinations. Practically shops, businesses and factories are concerned. In some cases, if employes [sic] are worked on that day, they will have to be paid double the rates specified in the awards; in other cases, which constitute the majority, the rates to be paid are time and a half.”

5 The Age (Melbourne), Sat 08 Jan 1949, p.9, New Passports After Jan. 26: “After January 26 (Australia day) passports issued to Australian citizens will describe the holders as “Australian citizens” and also as “British subjects.” … With the new form of passport, Australians travelling abroad would readily secure recognition of their Australian citizenship as well as of their British nationality.”

By Editor