Australia Day Facts

The first ever official national day that was actually named ‘Australia Day’ was on July 30 in 1915, which was to raise funds for the World War I war effort.

This happened after Ellen Wharton-Kirke, from Manly NSW, made the suggestion to Premier Sir Charles Wade, reportedly due to the enlistment of her three sons.

According to the Australian War Memorial website.

Mrs Wharton-Kirke had seen the generosity of the Australian people during other fundraising days and saw an ‘Australia Day’ as a way of drawing on the pride of Australians in their soldiers’ recent achievements at Gallipoli.

30 July 1915 was the date agreed upon, and events were held across all of Australia to raise funds.”

In 1916, the Australia Day committee that had formed to organise the war effort fundraising determined that it would be held on July 28.

Previous to 1888, New South Wales was the only place that celebrated Australian patriotism by having the ‘Anniversary Day’ on January 26.

These celebrations were all Sydney-centric (other states had their own celebrations to mark the founding of their state) – for example, Governor Lachlan Macquarie held a 30-gun salute at Dawes Point to mark 30 years as a colony in 1818.

In early colonial times, the 26th January was usually called ‘First Landing Day’ or ‘Foundation Day’, and would be celebrated by European immigrants (particularly ex-convicts) by holding anniversary dinners.

Some would begin their festivities the night of the 25th, with records existing of ex-convicts participating in “drinking and merriment” to celebrate their new home from as early as 1808.

Victoria adopted 26 January as a day to celebrate in 1931 and by 1935 all of the states and territories of Australia were celebrating the invasion – although it was still known as Anniversary Day in NSW, and Foundation Day in other areas.

AUSTRALIA DAY HOLIDAYS

The Australia Day holiday across the continent began in 1984. From the 1940s most states and territories had a holiday for Foundation Day but it wasn’t until 1984 that the National Australia Day Committee was federally funded.

1938 DAY OF MOURNING

First Nation Peoples have been protesting on the 26 January for many years, and the first official ‘Day of Mourning’ was held in 1938.

Other popular names now used by First Nations people are Invasion Day and Survival Day.

References:
War Memorial Website http://bit.ly/2XicgA4

Australia Day Website Page 76 https://bit.ly/3pT9r4I

SBS article 2018 http://bit.ly/394pq9q

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