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Thursday July 28, 2016 03:11:07 PM  Australia Day Crafts

Australia’s national day, Australia Day, on 26 January, marks the date in 1788 when Captain Arthur Phillip, of the British Royal Navy, commanding a fleet of 11 ships, sailed into Port Jackson. Governor  Phillip formally taking jurisdiction of latitude 10 37' to latitude 43 49' south and inland to longitude 135 east' took possession of the eastern part of the continent for Britain and established a settlement, now Australia’s largest city, Sydney.

This brand colony very soon began to celebrate the on anniversary of 26 January 1788 with formal dinners and informal celebrations.  John Macarthur senior had always made sure that  his soldiers were given ample supplies of liquor.

An article in the Sydney Gazette on February 1, 1817 records a typical anniversary dinner that was held on the 27 January in the house of Isaac Nichols, a respected emancipist and Australia's first Postmaster. Similar dinners are described involving William Charles Wentworth and friends on 26 January 1825 and 1828 when the catch cry and traditional toast had already become 'to the land, boys, we live in'. Many of these ex-convicts had become the wealthiest and most successful businessmen in the colony.

1818 was the first marking the thirtieth anniversary of white settlement. Governor Macquarie ordered a salute of 30 guns to be fired from the battery at Dawes Point and in the evening gave a dinner at Government House for civil and military officers. Mrs. Macquarie held a Ball  to celebrate the occasion. Our oldest surviving cottage is Cadman's cottage built around1815-16 as the ‘Coxswain’s Barracks’ attached to Governor Macquarie’s dockyard and stores on the shores of Sydney Cove. The present name comes from John Cadman, who took up residence there in 1827. The building has largely survived because of constant Government or institutional ownership,

Around 1820  even the ex-convicts had a deep sense of belonging to a new this wonderful nation must surely have been encouraged in 1817 when Governor Macquarie recommended the adoption of the name 'Australia'  formally known as New Holland.

However it was know as 'Foundation Day'. During 1800 & sporting days and horse races were held on the day.

A different commemorative event was held in the summer of 1836 when a group of seafaring Sydney friends decided to celebrate the founding of their new nation with a sailing regatta. The Australia Day Regatta, originally the Anniversary Regatta, is still held on Sydney Harbour on the 26 January each year and has become the oldest continuous regatta in the world, still being held today in 2003

1838 some 50 years after Phillip landed  a number of celebratory events were organised and the first public holiday ever marked in Australia was announced for the 26 January in that year. This inaugural public holiday in New South Wales was to become an annual event from that year, held on or around the 26 January.

Now the whole colony joined in the festivities 26 January 1838 became a 'day for everyone' with the harbour foreshores crowded and many sailing vessels participating in races and competitions. Crackers and rockets ended the day's exuberant festivities.  Some  Australia Days fireworks have been cancelled because of fireman battling fires.

By 1888, our  population numbers swelled to 3,000,000 with so many things had changed over the previous 50 years. Gold had been discovered in the 1850's bringing great wealth and immigration, and New South Wales had become self-governing in 1859.

While this wealth and prosperity was certainly not equally spread - the incoming NSW government of 1886 had inherited severe financial problems and over eleven thousand 'centennial parcels' of rations were distributed to Sydney's poor on the 26 January 1888 - the first centenary of white settlement was celebrated with great enthusiasm.

With the exception of Adelaide, all colonial capitals had declared Anniversary Day 1888 a public holiday and celebrations took place throughout the colonies.

Ceremonies, parades, exhibitions, fireworks, banquets, church services and regattas were commonplace and 50,000 people watched the Governor Lord Carrington unveil a statue in honour of Queen Victoria. A march of thirteen thousand trade unionists culminated in the laying of the foundation stone for a new Trades Hall and many religious services were held.

Centennial Park, Sydney was formally reserved for public use on the 26 January 1888 and in Melbourne there was a Centennial International Exhibition which remained open from August 1888 to February 1889, attracting nearly two million visitors. The centenary was also marked by numerous historical publications and commemorative volumes as well as souvenirs and other centenary ephemera. Picture of myself Louise Jo-Anne Rogers & Paul James Rogers in the park around 1978.

Australians were beginning to talk widely about other political questions of the day, including the move towards Federation. However, despite the pride in achievement celebrated in January 1888 and the moves towards a united nation, there were no doubts about the 'continuing loyalty of the four million Australians to the mother country'. A description of the unveiling of Queen Victoria's statue included the comment 'the mood was British, the crowd was Australian'.

In 1871 the Australian Natives' Association was formed in Victoria. This was the first Australian Friendly Society and its motto was Advance Australia. ANA, which had particular influence in the period between the 1890's to around 1914, had strong nationalistic aspirations and its members included Edmund Barton who was our first first PM, Alfred Deakin our second PM and Sir Isaac Isaacs our first Australian born Governor-General.

The ANA grew rapidly and branches were formed across Victoria and in all states as well as a branch in London. By the 1880's, the group was making a nation-wide impact.

The Australian Natives' Association supported many issues including afforestation, an Australian-made goods policy, water conservation, Aboriginal welfare, the celebration of proper and meaningful citizenship ceremonies following the increased levels of migration after World War II and the adoption of the wattle as the national floral emblem, accepted in 1912.

However, some of their strongest support was lent to the move towards Federation and a united Commonwealth and with the Federation League, the celebration of a unified national day and the calling of that day Australia Day.

Preparations for the 150th anniversary of white settlement in 1938 had commenced in NSW in 1936 with the formation of a Celebrations Council and the Sesquicentenary year became an important year for celebrations.

NSW became the  only state to abandon the traditional long weekend and the annual Anniversary Day public holiday was held on the day - Wednesday 26 January.

The general public appeared to have embraced the 150th anniversary with great enthusiasm. In Sydney, events commenced on the 18 January with a ceremony to celebrate the arrival of Captain Phillip at Botany Bay. A similar ceremony was held on the 21 January at Camp Cove. Both were attended by the Governor Lord Wakehurst, the Premier Bertram Stevens, military chiefs and assorted dignitaries.

The 26 January 1938 in NSW featured many major events around the state and in Sydney on and around the Harbour. The 'March of Nationhood', an extremely successful parade of over sixty motorised floats passed through the streets of Sydney to the Showground watched by almost one million people. Streets and buildings were decorated and the city was alive with colour and excitement, decorated with bunting, flags and illuminations.

The showpiece of the official celebrations was a re-enactment of the landing of Captain Phillip complete with the putting to flight of a party of Aborigines. The latter, a group of twenty-six, had been brought to Sydney from poverty-stricken settlements in Menindee and Brewarrina when their city counterparts refused to take part in what has been called a 'grossly theatrical re-enactment'.

Several hours before the re-enactment on the morning of the 26 January, Aboriginal activists met to hold a 'Day of Mourning' conference aimed at securing national citizenship and equal status for Aborigines. A manifesto titled Aborigines Claim Citizen Rights was distributed by the committee formed to organise the protest and soon after Australia Day 1938 the Committee for Aboriginal Citizen Rights was formed in Sydney.

IOutside Sydney, there were many celebrations and events in the bush for the Sesquicentenary - picnics, balls, musical performances and the odd fireworks show.

A significant amount of ephemera remains from the celebrations - invitations, pamphlets, program brochures, tourist leaflets from large regional towns and musical, art and literary competitions, indicating the number of events that took place around New South Wales. However, in both city and country, unlike the 1988 Bicentenary, little in the way of permanent structures and reminders were created during 1938.

The euphoria of the 150th anniversary celebrations was maintained as February 1938 saw the staging of the British Empire Games in Australia for the first time. Of the seventy events held in Sydney, Australia won twenty-four, far ahead of her nearest rival Canada with thirteen.

Since their formation in 1871, the Australian Natives Association had been working patiently towards the unified naming and dating of our national day. Following their concerted efforts and with the support of similar movements, the Commonwealth Government and all States and Territories finally agreed in 1946 to observe the same national day - 26 January - and to call that day Australia Day.

Separate Australian citizenship became law for the first time in 1949. The waves of non-British immigration after 1945 led to a new role for Australia Day, one that celebrated new citizenship with 'naturalisation' ceremonies.

An article in the Australia and New Zealand Weekly of January, 1963 commented on the timing of naturalisation ceremonies for the 26 January, claiming that 'this year, 4,500 'New Australians' will become fully-fledged Australian citizens'.

Citizenship ceremonies are still an integral part of Australia Day celebrations around the nation with the smallest town or rural village delighted if they can host a ceremony for even one new Australian citizen on the 26 January.

The celebration of our national day has always stimulated vigorous comment - positive and negative - and articles have appeared regularly in the daily press, magazines and journals commenting both on the perceived lack of national pride demonstrated by the average Australian and pushing for a change in the date of celebration.

The public holiday mentality of the average Australian for the 26 January was deplored by many commentators. In 1957 the Editor of The Educational Magazine, published by the Victorian Education Department, writes that 'the celebration of Australia Day, or the comparative lack of it, has always caused embarrassment both to those who would like to celebrate and those who would chiefly like to see that others do'.

Meanwhile, existing celebrations for Australia Day continued to have a largely imperial feel and influence and were quite formal. The Australia and New Zealand Weekly described the 26 January, 1959 in Sydney as a march of 12,000 men, women and children through the city to the Botanic Gardens, led by the NSW Mounted Police, the services and sporting personalities. The NSW Governor and Premier were in attendance for the ceremony which included a re-enactment of the First Fleet landing.

The Sydney celebrations from 1959 to around 1971 were conducted by a group called the Sydney Committee which also organised the annual Waratah Festival - a far more expansive affair than Australia Day. Australia Day ceremonies were typically formal, with a strong military involvement and the presence of numerous dignitaries including the Governor, Premier, Lord Mayor and Service Chiefs.

A positive aspect was the Committee's determination to conduct their events on the 26 January, regardless of the day in the week on which it fell.

From 1977 to 1986 the official NSW Australia Day ceremony was conducted by the Festival of Sydney, from 1982 on behalf of the Australia Day Council of NSW. Pre-1988, all ceremonies were principally based on the historical significance of the 26 January and involved a Tri-service Guard, the reading of Captain Phillip's 1788 Proclamation and the raising of the original Union flag as well as the Australian flag.

In 1979 the National Australia Day Council was formed. State councils or committees followed, the Australia Day Council of NSW being formed in 1981. From its inception, the NSW council encouraged 'grass roots' celebrations, working primarily with the 177 local government authorities in the promotion of the celebration of Australia Day.

However, the Australia Day public holiday was still held on the Monday closest to January 26 and to the broad community it was just another holiday.

By 26 January 1988, the community was really ready to fulfill the NSW Bicentennial Council's logo 'Let's Celebrate' and the world saw a 'spirited and emotional country' as Australians enjoyed the spectacular events on and around Sydney Harbour and across the country. In NSW alone, over 25,000 events took place and an estimated 2.5 million people attended the celebrations in Sydney.

And in 1988, for the first time, a public holiday was held around the nation on January 26.

In Sydney the ships of the First Fleet Re-enactment arrived in Sydney Harbour. These ships had departed Portsmouth on the 13 May 1987, arriving in Botany Bay earlier in January and then finally entering the heads on the morning of the 26 January 1988. On the same day the sail training ship the Young Endeavour became Britain's Bicentennial gift to the nation and Sydney Harbour was also host to a large number of Tall Ships from many nations.

Pre-1988, re-enactments of the 1788 landing were almost a prerequisite for any Australia Day ceremonies. In 1988 however, while the First Fleet ships staged a re-enactment of the voyage and subsequent arrival of the original First Fleet in Sydney Harbour, the NSW government reacted strongly against the suggestion of a landing re-enactment, stating they would 'ensure that such a completely insensitive and politically volatile act did not take place'.

Alongside the formal program celebrating 200 years of white settlement, the Aboriginal community staged a massive march for 'Freedom, Justice and Hope'. While 1988 was named a Year of Mourning for Aboriginals, it was also regarded as a celebration of survival. This was the most vocal indigenous presence ever felt on a 26 January.

As well as the festive and fun events, the 1988 Bicentennial, unlike earlier major celebrations in NSW, will be remembered for leaving a substantial number of very diverse and useful projects. Funded by a grant system from the NSW Bicentennial Council, these projects played a significant role in the participation of regional communities.

Post the 1988 Bicentennial celebrations, the expectation was that the Australian public would not continue to observe Australia Day in such style and with such import.

Despite this lack of optimism, each year since 1988 Australia Day celebrations across the country have continued to grow in number and stature and ceremonies have become increasingly appealing to a broad community audience.

In 1993, the Australia Day celebrations were closely linked to Sydney's bid for the 2000 Olympics and in 1994 the devastating January bushfires were very much a current issue. In that year, the official Australia Day ceremony at Darling Harbour honoured representatives from all the relevant bushfire brigade regions throughout New South Wales allowing Australians to say 'thank you' to their firefighting heroes.

There still remained separate dates for Australia Day celebrations in some states despite the increase in community involvement, the fact that all States and Territories had recognised the day from 1946 and that Bicentennial celebrations took place around the country on the same day, the 26 January 1988. It took until 1994 for united Australia-wide celebrations to take place on the 26 January and national celebrations have been held on the actual day since that year.

While the 26 January has remained our national day from the time of Phillip's landing, much discussion has taken place since the 1800's on the pros and cons of this particular date. The reasons cited for a change of date have been varied - historical, practical and most recently, the desire for reconciliation with our indigenous population. At the time of writing, the date remains the 26 January and the discussion continues.

Australia Day has become a community day. There are still formal ceremonies throughout the country - flag raising, citizenship ceremonies and the presentation of important community awards such as Citizen and Young Citizen of the Year, but the 26 January has become much more for the average Australian.

Celebrations now include a strong festive aspect with special events encouraging the participation of the entire family and all members of a community. Australia Day Committees involve their ethnic and indigenous communities, service clubs, sporting and cultural organisations while local government has become increasingly supportive.

And while the historical aspects of the 26 January will always be acknowledged, there is a greater awareness of the need to celebrate modern Australia - a land of diverse ethnic makeup, a land working towards reconciliation with its indigenous people and a nation gearing itself for the significant events and celebrations of the Year 2000 Olympics, the new millennium and the Centenary Of Federation in 2001.

 God Bless our country AUSTRALIA.