[Note: Please note that I am Canadian and have gleaned this information second hand. I've had lots of great contributions for viewers -- thanks guys!!]
Australians have a national holiday every January 26th to remember their origins and celebrate their achievements.
On January 26, 1788, a fleet of ships landed at what is now Sydney, Australia. These ships were under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip and had brought a load of prisoners from England. The prisoners on the ships were not all criminals as we would think of them today. Many of them were people who had been arrested because the government didn't like what they had to say. And some were poor people who had been jailed because they owed money. (More clarification...Thanks Nate!)
These prisoners were the first Europeans to settle in Australia.
Before 1783 (when the Americans won the Revolutionary War) many of Britain's unwanted criminals had been sent to the United States.
The desire to get rid of criminals was not the only motivation for colonizing Australia. Botany Bay, Australia made a good port of call for British ships travelling in that part of the world. Also, Australia's raw materials were an attractive reason for colonizing the country.
Since that time, millions more have chosen Australia as their home. And wherever they are from, they all take part in celebrating Australia Day.
During the last weekend in January, Australians enjoy folk dances and music of the many national groups that make up their land. These musicians and dancers appear in the oldest part of Sydney (called The Rocks) near the harbor where the first Europeans landed.
Captain Arthur Phillip's landing in the harbor is reenacted each year.
Here is some additional info sent in by a variety of viewers. We found it really interesting to read a bit about what "real" Australians did on this day.
Hi, Jenny here from Tasmania, I just checked your Australia Day page and it is great of you to include it. We spent our day at the local Australia Day Rodeo and it poured with rain literally bucketed down. As we are on a farm and needed a rain break from the Summer heat and dryness it was very nice.
Just thought I would let you know that 2001 is the Centenary of Australia's Federation. 100 years ago our forefathers made our constitution and we became a country of the Commonwealth not a colony of Britain. Australia Day is becoming more a day of celebration as time passes but it currently has a mixed response as Australia gradually recognizes that those of British decent weren't the first Australians. The Aborigines see Australia Day as a sad day of invasion. I think with the passing of time a new day may evolve which is more amicable to all.
Well, what a beaut site you have here it's a real bonza! Pop over and throw a few snags & chops on the barbie, knock a few coldies down, bring the softies for the ankle bitters, blonk your butt and have a natter, it will be a ripper of a day....
You li'le beauty...
See ya mate
Well you have a really great site and it's terrific. Come on over and through a few sausages and lamb chops on the BBQ, have a few cold beers,
wine or alcohol, bring the pop for the children, sit down and have a great chat....it will be the best of days,
A terrific friend,
The Aussie Day BBQ is a great thing and a very old tradition here. The main focus is a breakfast. We all get up very early and either have our own
family get together breckie or lots of communities have a central one that can be attended like at a local park, Footy oval etc. At central ones where
most of the community attend there are usually bands playing and every body receives a native Australian Shrub (baby tree) to keep and plant to help
regenerate the Community.
Do you have much info on Aussie Slang ? We seem to have our own language within a language here. Some visitors from other countries really have no idea what we are talking about sometimes and because it is normal speech for us we tend to forget it must sound completely silly to someone else. I think one of the more well known terms is G'day which means hello, No Worries-it'll be right, no problem, there is so many really that you don't really see them as slang because we grow up knowing what it means.
There is also Vegimite a spread for toast very popular and eaten by most of the population it is one of our national symbols practically!
I hope to see this section grow it would be fantastic.
In our area for Australia Day there is a huge regatta held on the local landmark known to all as 'the lake'. Local
charities set up barbecues and many families bring along a picnic etc for the day. Local groups from the wonderful
"firies" build rafts from anything including empty cans and have races on the lake.
Else where in Australia (up in the Northern Territory) the locals don't usually have rivers to run these type of competitions on they make boats up and people run along carrying the boat in teams, the first team around the marker and back to the start win the Race.
At the Pre-School we make rafts from popsicle sticks and glue and paper sails and float them on our water trough, we occasionally make "power" boats from milk cartons (the cardboard type) and balloons to power the boats and race them through the troughs. The older pre-schoolers enjoy decorating their boats making masts etc that are held in with a little plasticine and adding lego people to 'drive' their boats.
We have also used large boxes that the children decorate to run races the way Northern Territorians do. The children usually end up in a huge giggling pile.
Australia Day is often celebrated with firework displays and flag waving.
Often there will be pageants about the first fleet landing acted out and parades. I guess it is a day where
patriotism runs riot, songs are sung and the nation draws together. Much like the US 4th of July. Crafts and activities of the day could include the making of damper, making a
swagman's hat (simply tie corks around the brim of a floppy hat), make small Australian flags and attach them to sticks, act out the landing of the first fleet and of course sing all the
Australian great songs.
Did you know...
The capital of Australia is Canberra, not Sydney, as most people think. Canberra is located within the state of New South Wales (NSW) in its own territory called the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). It's like Washington in Washington DC within Maryland.
Sport in Australia is huge...almost a religion. Cricket, rugby and
especially Aussie rules football are the most popular. Australian kids love to play these games and worship local sporting
heroes, people like Don Bradman (cricket) and James Hird (footy). Being from Victoria ( birthplace of AFL)
I know more about AFL then rugby. Rugby is played mainly in New South Wales and Queensland, Cricket is everywhere and AFL is popular in all states but is the only game in
Victoria during footy season. The 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney are
also a big part of Australian sporting culture.
I don't know how much you know about AFL. But I thought it might be useful to include in your page. Good sites to look at would be:
www.afl.com.au (it has links to all the AFL / and information) and www.baggygreen.com.au, the Australian cricket website.
Another viewer wrote...
I live in Perth, which is the capital of Western Australia. Each year we have a huge fireworks exhibition set to music on the evening of the 26th. Thousands of people line the banks of the Swan River (this is the river that runs through Perth) from the early afternoon and wait for the fireworks in the early evening. Most people meet with groups of friends and have BBQ and play cricket while waiting for the show. It is a really big event in Perth and one radio station actually counts down the days until the "Skyshow" before Christmas.
BBQ's are very big here at this time of year as the temperature is usually between 32-39 degrees C. T-shirts, thongs & shorts are the standard dress as is the hat and zinc cream on the nose.
Like many American families. Aussie kids grow up on a mixture of foods from different cultures. But the firm favourites are Vegemite (yeast based spread) and Milo (chocolate drinking powder which you add to milk) - some kids even eat Milo sandwiches.
|Another viewer added...
James Cook named a part of Australia 'NEW SOUTH WALES' on April 29th 1770 in honor of King George III.
Did you know? ... Australia is the only place in the world that has two kinds of mammals that actually lay eggs!!! The platypus and the echidna.
Just to add.... Australia Day for me starts with a BBQ breakfast at the local town square, where a bush band sings traditional colonial songs - the Anthem, "We are one" and "Waltzing Matilda". Everyone wears something "Australian" or waves a flag. Then it's off to the beach for the rest of the day. I love this country!!!
I work with children and we spend the week leading up to Australia Day singing those songs, colouring in flags and maps, and sharing what we think is Australian. The best part? I have approximately 20 cultures represented in my class. We have a multicultural affair.
Hi... Hope you dont mind but I thought I would stop by and mention a couple of things about Australia Day and crafts that the kindergartens and schools do here in Australia. We have heaps of nationalities here... But there is still a general white 'English' even 'American' train of thought in most schools. Although true to form most Australians claim to vote Labour, deny being religious and apparently attempt to break all beer drinking and car collecting records (broken down cars lol).
"One thing we do on Australia Day is play a game of cricket. On the BBQ we eat steak, sausages and lamb."
"As an Australian on Australia Day it is summer in January this
is our hottest time of the year 38C + it is hot and we need to cover up
for the afternoon while waiting for our fantastic "sky shows" to start.
The sky shows are fireworks or crackers set off to the sound of music.
Most people come together and yell "Happy Australia Day" to each other.
People walk around with the Australian flag in hand. The occasional cars
toot and have flags attached. It is the one time that most people are
super friendly to total strangers. In the thousands we sit at advantage
points all around our cities to have a good view positions for the
fireworks and we have to be there many hours before they start of the
shows just to get these best spots.