For a day that’s celebrated in thongs, sunnies, and green and yellow face-paint, Australia Day is one of the most controversial holidays we have here in Oz.
The 26th of January, better known as Australia Day, serves to commemorate this day back in 1788, when the First Fleet of British ships arrived in Australia, marking the beginning of British settlement in this country.
Seems like a pretty good reason to celebrate, right?
Or it would be, if there hadn’t already been people in Australia when the First Fleet arrived. About 750,000 people, which is the reason many people refer to January 26th not as Australia Day, but as Invasion Day.
On his trip around the Australian coast in 1770, James Cook concluded that the island was uninhabited. When he was found to be wrong, the settlers did not turn back, nor even ask the native people for permission to colonise; they continued on establishing their penal colony with disregard to the people they viewed as a lesser race. Unsustainable fishing and hunting led to food shortages; land was cleared and water polluted. The Aboriginal people were close to starvation and the situation was only worsened with the introduction of European diseases that Indigenous Australians had not been exposed to before.
To me, the near destruction of an entire race of people for the petty desires of some self-righteous, egotistical men, doesn’t seem like cause for a sausage sizzle.
Which isn’t to say that I don’t think we should have an Australia Day; I just think we should do it differently.
Of course we have a right to celebrate our country. Of course we deserve a day off work to listen to some live music and eat some charred meats and BBQ chips. But why are we commemorating such a shameful event? Why are we giving credit to the people who almost destroyed the original inhabitants of our beautiful country?
Let’s celebrate Australia Day differently. A different time, a different memory. Let’s celebrate the day when Kevin Rudd apologised for the Stolen Generation. Let’s celebrate the day when government finally allows same-sex marriage.
Let’s celebrate something that is an achievement for all Australians. Let’s celebrate being Australian, regardless of race, sex, religion, gender, sexuality or politics.
Let’s spend Australia Day embracing our diversity, not commemorating it’s attempted erasure.
Thankyou to Aboriginal Heritage for helping me understand the history of Australia Day.
3 thoughts on “Australia Day”
Pingback: Happy February! | Loony's Biz
Unfortunately for me I’m a day late! However I nonetheless agree entirely – there are certainly some significant faults in our culture regarding how we (and please excuse the extreme generalisation here) remember & celebrate the past. I suppose as they say, history is written by the victor, and we remember it as a victory. I even witnessed a disgusting joke-display of a victory dance for the “successful” invasion of the Aboriginal people.
Thanks for voicing what some are afraid to (in fear of seeming like a wet towel, an undesirable character archetype you should know you do not fit!) but if you saw it, you should be pleased with Google’s custom logo yesterday, displaying moribund Aboriginals instead of union jacks and the southern cross…
Thanks again for a well-written post!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks so much for your feedback. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Australia Day a week ago – I’m a bit ashamed to say I hadn’t put much thought into it before now – but upon doing some research I can only feel ashamed on behalf of the original invaders, primarily Captain Arthur Phillip, and also on behalf of our current politicians and the alarming number of people in this country who believe this invasion in 1788 was fair, but that letting refugees in today is a step too far. I hope the people who understand the difference between right and wrong can be brave enough to stand up and say that this isn’t right.