Friday, January 25, 2019

Australia Day

Every Nation has its own days of celebration but few have as much contention over the date as Oz. Not just the date, in the case of Oz, but what the date represents. The Tavern has no such problem with the date or the meaning and we are preparing for Oz Day on Saturday 26th January, as per usual. It is when years ago, civilisation, in the form of soldiers, sailors and convicts - hardly the most representative or epitome of the most advanced mob in the world at the time - arrived to take possession of very largely sparsely inhabited Royal Estate. The French nearly beat the British to it !

Australia Day is the official national day of Australia. 

Celebrated annually on 26 January, it marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip. 
Capt. Arthur Phillip raising the British flag at Sydney Cove, 26 January 1788

In present-day Australia, celebrations reflect the diverse society and landscape of the nation and are marked by community and family events, reflections on Australian history, official community awards and citizenship ceremonies welcoming new members of the Australian community.

The meaning and significance of Australia Day has evolved over time. Unofficially, or historically, the date has also been variously named "Anniversary Day", "Foundation Day" and "ANA Day". The date of 26 January 1788 marked the proclamation of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia (then known as New Holland). 

Although it was not known as Australia Day until over a century later, records of celebrations on 26 January date back to 1808, with the first official celebration of the formation of New South Wales held in 1818. On New Year's Day 1901, the British colonies of Australia formed a federation, marking the birth of modern Australia. A national day of unity and celebration was looked for. 

It was not until 1935 that all Australian states and territories adopted use of the term "Australia Day" to mark the date, and not until 1994 that the date was consistently marked by a public holiday on that day by all states and territories.

In contemporary Australia, the holiday is marked by the presentation of the Australian of the Year Awards on Australia Day Eve, announcement of the Australia Day Honours list and addresses from the Governor-General and the Prime Minister. It is an official public holiday in every state and territory. With community festivals, concerts and citizenship ceremonies, the day is celebrated in large and small communities and cities around the nation. Australia Day has become the biggest annual civic event in Australia.
Cook's Cottage: Vandalized.
However, since at least 1938, the date of Australia Day has also been marked by Indigenous Australians, and those sympathetic to their cause, 
mourning what they see as the invasion of their land
by Europeans and protesting its celebration as a national holiday. 

These groups sometimes refer to 26 January as Invasion Day or Survival Day and advocate that the date should be changed, or that the holiday should be abolished entirely. However, support for changing the date amongst the Australian population is low, with a 2017 poll conducted for The Guardian finding only 26% of the total population supports changing the date. 

Australians have always been an easy-going mob but over the century has become quite divided by the 'Left' who co-opt 'identity' groups to hide behind and ferment discord through. Indiginous folk are one such identity group. One suspects one cannot take the convict out of some people.

On 13 May 1787 a fleet of 11 ships, which came to be known as the First Fleet, was sent by the British Admiralty from England to New Holland.

Under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip, the fleet sought to establish a penal colony at Botany Bay on the coast of New South Wales, which had been explored and claimed by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770. 

The settlement was seen as necessary because of the loss of the Thirteen Colonies in North America. The Fleet arrived between 18 and 20 January 1788, but it was immediately apparent that Botany Bay was unsuitable.

(An aside note: Two, in fact. When Star Trek was in its writing gestation a name for the Captain was sought. He was subsequently named James Kirk, a very slight change from the Greatest Navigator the world had seen: James Cook.

Cook was reknowned for his skills, although his exactness did not come to modern light until the advent of satellites, when photographs of Newfoundland when overlaid on Cook's maps showed an exact fit. And it was exact, down to the smallest headland and bay.)

But I digress.

On 21 January, Phillip and a few officers travelled to Port Jackson, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) to the north, to see if it would be a better location for a settlement. They stayed there until 23 January; Phillip named the site of their landing Sydney Cove, after the Home Secretary, Thomas Townshend, 1st Viscount Sydney. They also made contact with the local Aboriginal people.

They returned to Botany Bay on the evening of 23 January, when Phillip gave orders to move the fleet to Sydney Cove the next morning, 24 January. That day, there was a huge gale blowing, making it impossible to leave Botany Bay, so they decided to wait till the next day, 25 January. However, during 24 January, they spotted the ships Astrolabe and Boussole, flying the French flag, at the entrance to Botany Bay; 

they were having as much trouble getting into the bay as the First Fleet was having getting out.

(Another aside: The French nearly beat Britain to the post. They had already missed a chance in Tasmania (known then as Van Diemen's Land) some time before when Vice-Admiral Bruni D'Entrecasteaux's two ships landed and stopped for several months. But being a 'scientific' expidition it had not 'claimed' it for France. The British did a very short time later.  D'Entrecasteaux's name and that of his second ship Captain, Huon de Kermadek, are on well known places near to Hobart.)

On 25 January the gale was still blowing; the fleet tried to leave Botany Bay, but only HMS Supply made it out, carrying....

Arthur Phillip, Philip Gidley King, some marines and about 40 convicts;

they anchored in Sydney Cove in the afternoon. On 26 January, early in the morning, Phillip along with a few dozen marines, officers and oarsmen, rowed ashore and took possession of the land in the name of King George III. The remainder of the ship's company and the convicts watched from on board Supply.
Astrolabe and Boussole

Meanwhile, back at Botany Bay, Captain John Hunter of HMS Sirius made contact with the French ships, and he and the commander, Captain de Clonard, exchanged greetings. Clonard advised Hunter that the fleet commander was Jean-François de Galaup, comte de La Pérouse. Sirius successfully cleared Botany Bay, but the other ships were in great difficulty. 

Charlotte was blown dangerously close to rocks; Friendship and Prince of Wales became entangled, both ships losing booms or sails; Charlotte and the Friendship actually collided; and Lady Penrhyn nearly ran aground. Despite these difficulties, all the remaining ships finally managed to clear Botany Bay and sail to Sydney Cove on 26 January. The last ship anchored there at about 3 pm.

The formal establishment of the Colony of New South Wales did not occur on 26 January as is commonly assumed. It did not occur until 7 February 1788, when the formal proclamation of the colony and of Arthur Phillip's governorship were read out. The vesting of all land in the reigning monarch King George III also dates from 7 February 1788.

So, for all the customers from other, furrin parts that come to imbibe of the Amber Liquid in the Tavern, that is the potted history of our National Holiday.

Were it not for serendipity and weather - not to mention the American Colonies being beastly - we here in the Tavern might have been speaking French. The rest of Oz too. I don't think the 'Indiginous' folk would have been treated as well as they have been. There would be a lot more to complain about, I am pretty sure.

Quite how we will celebrate here on Saturday is somewhat dependent on surviving Friday. Our small island is currently experiencing very hot weather and fires are raging. Friday will see 35-40degC temperatures, fairly strong winds, and 800kms of fire-front from 40 odd bushfires to greet the dawn.

We shall have plenty of water and plenty of ale though.

And a few bottles of French wine to sit alongside the many Tasmanian wine ones.

Drink up. Keep hydrated.



  1. Happy Australia Day :-)

    I am sure your bar is stocked with wine vintages from many parts of the world ;-)

    1. Indeed. This world and the other. And I shall throw another shrimp on the barby for you.

    2. I would graciously accept and be transformed by a 'Double Portion' of Spirit from the other world ;-)

    3. 42. And lately by the Tavern Door agape, Came shining through the Dusk an Angel Shape, Bearing a Vessel on his Shoulder: and He bid me taste of it: and 'twas - the Grape.


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..