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Australia Day

National Public Holiday


The Australian Flag

The Australian Flag

Courtesy The World Factbook

  • Among Australian public holidays, Australia Day is considered one of the most important as it commemorates the founding of the first white settlement in Australia in 1788.

On May 13, 1787, British Captain Arthur Phillip set sail from Portsmouth, England, to establish a convict colony in Australia.

He sailed with 11 ships, 759 convicts -- 191 of whom were female -- 13 children of convicts, 211 marines, 46 wives and children of marines, and his staff of nine.

Phillip landed at Botany Bay on the eastern coast of Australia on January 18, 1788, travelled some kilometres north to find a more suitable place for settlement and came ashore at Sydney Cove on January 26 in what is now the historic Rocks area at the southern end of today's Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Sore point for Aborigines

Having established Port Jackson, he then named the settlement Sydney after British Home Secretary Lord Sydney, who was responsible for the colony. Phillip was to be its governor.

This date — January 26 — is now commemorated yearly as Australia Day, but while it is a day that weaves together the past and present of a great land and its people, its celebration is a sore point for some of Australia's Aboriginal community who consider they were invaded by the British on that day in 1788.

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