Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The first Australia Day

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted

1788 New Holland (now called Australia): The First Fleet landed at Botany Bay, near present-day Sydney and Governor Arthur Phillip took formal possession of the colony of New South Wales in the name of King George III of the United Kingdom.

Following the American Revolution, Britain was deprived of penal colonies and in the 1780s was keeping large numbers of miscreants in various prisons and even on old ships ('hulks'). The discovery (by Captain James Cook) to Britain of the Great South Land, Terra Australis, or New Holland, as Australia was variously named, gave Britain another dumping ground.

January 26 is celebrated as Australia Day, the country's national day.

Captain Phillip wrote in his diary on this day:

In the evening of the 26th, the colours were displayed on shore, and the Governor, with several of his principal officers and others, assembled around the flagstaff, drank the King's health, and success to the settlement, with all the display of form which, on such occasions, is deemed propitious because it enlivens the spirits and fills the imagination with pleasing presages.

Read more about Australia Day at Wilson's Almanac

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