Thursday, January 26, 2012

Happy Australia Day...!

In many ways, the history of Australia and the U.S. are very similar .

I think we could almost consider Australia a sister country. I did a little study of the early years of Australia, and I have to admit I was fascinated. Here is a short history that you may enjoy reading!

Jan 26, 1788:
Australia Day

On January 26, 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip guides a fleet of 11 British ships carrying convicts to the colony of New South Wales, effectively founding Australia. After overcoming a period of hardship, the fledgling colony began to celebrate the anniversary of this date with great fanfare.

Australia, once known as New South Wales, was originally planned as a penal colony. In October 1786, the British government appointed Arthur Phillip captain of the HMS Sirius, and commissioned him to establish an agricultural work camp there for British convicts. With little idea of what he could expect from the mysterious and distant land, Phillip had great difficulty assembling the fleet that was to make the journey. His requests for more experienced farmers to assist the penal colony were repeatedly denied, and he was both poorly funded and outfitted. Nonetheless, accompanied by a small contingent of Marines and other officers, Phillip led his 1,000-strong party, of whom more than 700 were convicts, around Africa to the eastern side of Australia. In all, the voyage lasted eight months, claiming the deaths of some 30 men.

The first years of settlement were nearly disastrous. Cursed with poor soil, an unfamiliar climate and workers who were ignorant of farming, Phillip had great difficulty keeping the men alive. The colony was on the verge of outright starvation for several years, and the marines sent to keep order were not up to the task. Phillip, who proved to be a tough but fair-minded leader, persevered by appointing convicts to positions of responsibility and oversight. Floggings and hangings were commonplace, but so was egalitarianism. As Phillip said before leaving England: "In a new country there will be no slavery and hence no slaves."

Though Phillip returned to England in 1792, the colony became prosperous by the turn of the 19th century. Feeling a new sense of patriotism, the men began to rally around January 26 as their founding day. Historian Manning Clarke noted that in 1808 the men observed the "anniversary of the foundation of the colony" with "drinking and merriment."

Finally, in 1818, January 26 became an official holiday, marking the 30th anniversary of British settlement in Australia. And, as Australia became a sovereign nation, it became the national holiday known as Australia Day. Today, Australia Day serves both as a day of celebration for the founding of the white British settlement, and as a day of mourning for the Aborigines who were slowly dispossessed of their land as white colonization spread across the continent.

Looks to me as though we have another reason to celebrate! Not that many of us really need a reason to have a little party, ya know?

We'll have coffee in the kitchen this morning, because it still looks like it might rain some more! Happy Australia Day!

8 comments:

Bob Mc said...

Notice that last sentence. “Today, Australia Day serves both as a day of celebration for the founding of the white British settlement, and as a day of mourning for the Aborigines who were slowly dispossessed of their land as white colonization spread across the continent.” The Australian Aborigines suffered basically the same fate as the Native Americans.

HermitJim said...

Hey Bob...
That's one of the things I meant about our two countries having so many things in common!

Seems like no matter where it is, the colonist are always trying to push out the natives. Not very civilized, but it happens all the time!

Hey, thanks for coming by today!

Anonymous said...

Bill Bryson wrote an excellent book about Australia. It is a travel book but has plenty of historical information about it. Fascinating country, its on my 'bucket' list of places to go.

Give it a read - I promise it is worth it.

Momlady said...

I want to go back there. Particularly Uluru (Ayers Rock). The people are very friendly and the country vast.

HermitJim said...

Hey Anon 7:24...
Thanks for the book tip. I'll have to check it out!

Thanks,also, for coming by today!


Hey Momlady...
I didn't realize you had been there! I always wanted to go to Australia, but it's still on my "to do" list!

Thanks, my friend, for coming by today!

JOJO said...

I have heard what a beautiful place it is by people who have been.
But we still have the fact that the Aborigines suffered.

Good to hear you are still getting the much needed rain.

HermitJim said...

Hey JoJo...
It's sad, but I guess that has been happening as long as the human race has been expanding!

Always seems like someone is getting pushed out or moved around!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today!

TROUBLEnTX said...

Read the fictional book, Australia, a long time ago. Based on facts. Even saw the movie. Was great!