Australia Day 2016


Happy Australia Day

Australia Day is celebrated on January 26th. It fell on a Tuesday this year so the weekend was a bit weird, in that usually when Australia Day falls on a weekend, the weekend day becomes a public holiday and most of the Australia Day activities are held during the weekend. This year there were activities being held from Friday 22nd January all the way through to Tuesday January 26th.

Australia Day celebrates the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales. It also marks the raising of the Flag of Great Britain at the site by Governor Arthur Phillip.

Kangaroos hopping across the landscape

There are lots of different opinions about Australia Day and what it means to people. There are also many different ways to celebrate Australia Day. People celebrate by having family gatherings with the barbecue in the backyard and a game of cricket. Or families go out and enjoy a picnic or barbecue at the beach, a park or out in the bush. At this time of the year a lot of families are away holidaying so they would be holding a barbecue or picnic at the caravan park or camping ground they are staying at. Other events that occur on Australia Day are parades, free days for families and children, usually put on by local councils, citizenship ceremonies, Australia Day Honours List, Australian of the Year presentation and the Triple J Hottest 100.

Ayres Rock, Australia: A Kangaroo warning road sign in the desert near Uluru
Ayres Rock, Australia: A Kangaroo warning road sign in the desert near Uluru

When I was younger the day didn’t hold much significance as it was just another long weekend and we had a day off school, generally on the Monday. It was also a long weekend for our working parents so we would have a long weekend with our family. As I grew older and started working, the day still didn’t have much significance to me. It was just another day off which meant we had a long weekend. I don’t think I really started to look at the significance behind the Australia Day event until the last 10 years or so.

If you are overseas and reading this article, you may not know much about Australia Day. It’s a celebration of Australia becoming a nation. Celebrations in present day Australia reflect the diverse society we live in. Celebrations are marked by community and family events. People reflect on Australian History. There are official community awards such as Citizenship Ceremonies which welcome new immigrants into the Australian Community.

The name of the public holiday has evolved over time. The date of January 26th has been named “Anniversary Day”, “Foundation Day”, and “ANA Day (The Australian Natives’ Association)“. The date of 26th January 1788 marked the proclamation of British sovereignity over the eastern seaboard of Australia – which was known as New Holland at that time.

The holiday was not known as Australia Day until a century later. Records of celebrations on 26th January do date back to 1808. The first official celebration of the formation of New South Wales (New South Wales became a separate state in 1818) was held in 1818.

In 1901, on New Year’s Day, the British colonies of Australia formed a Federation, marking the birth of modern Australia. Australian people were looking for a day of unity and celebration. In 1935 all the Australian states and territories had adopted use of the term “Australia Day” to mark the date of the birth of Australia. It wasn’t until 1994 that the date of January 26th was consistently marked as a public holiday by all states and territories.

Sydney Harbour, the Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge

Australia consists of six states and two territories. The states are Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania. The territories are the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Northern Territory.

Australia’s National Anthem

I wanted to speak about some of the significant songs that Australia and Australians love. Songs that mean a lot to some people. I am currently watching the debate on ABC News 24 about different views about Australia Day. Our Indigenous People want it, Australia Day, to be marked as a day of National Mourning as it was the day that Australia was overtaken by Europeans, who took over the land and wiped out entire generations of Aboriginals. There is another article building up here. I will address that in another post. Our Indigenous people marched and protested Australia Day. They call it Invasion Day, the day that Europeans came to Australia and took over a country that was already owned and cared for by its people – The Aboriginals or the Indigenous tribes of Australia.

When I was young, and attending primary school, we used to sing “God Save Our Queen” every Monday morning. It was our national anthem. We would assemble in the quadrangle, raise the flag and sing the National Anthem before we filed into school. In 1984 “God Save Our Queen” was replaced by “Advance Australia Fair” as the National Anthem. Prior to that God Save Our Queen was sung as Australia was governed by Britain, and so we sang the patriotic song to honor the Queen of England.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

In 1951, to celebrate the golden jubilee of the Federation of Australia, there was a competition for a new national anthem. The song that won the competition was called “This Land of Mine” and was written by Henry Krips, an Austrian born conductor. This song never became the National Anthem.


The Australion Coat of Arms, flanked by the Kangaroo and Emu

In 1973 another competition was started to find a new anthem that could represent Australia with distinction. The Australian Council for the Arts organised a contest which was called “The Australian National Anthem Quest”. None of the entries were considered worthy by the Council for the Arts. The contest ended with suggestions for Advance Australia Fair, Waltzing Matilda and Song of Australia.

The Australian Dingo

The Fraser government reinstated “God Save Our Queen” for royal, vice-regal, defence and loyal toast occasions in January 1976. The national song was chosen during the 1977 referendum – with Advance Australia Fair receiving 43.29% of votes, defeating the three alternatives – Waltzing Matilda, Song of Australia and God Save Our Queen.

Advance Australia Fair was adopted as the Australian national anthem on 19th April 1984, by a proclamation of the Governor General Sir Ninian Stephen. God Save Our Queen is now known as the Royal Anthem, and it is played alongside the Australian National Anthem at public engagements attended by the Royal Family.

The reason that I mention the National Anthem is because there are so many songs that could have been chosen to represent what Australia is, and what it means to people. Below are the words of the National Anthem as sung at special occasions. I have never learned the words myself as I don’t often attend an occasion where the anthem is sung.

A Koala – not a koala bear


“Australians all let us rejoice,

For we are young and free;

We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil;

Our home is girt by sea;

Our land abounds in nature’s gifts

Of beauty rich and rare;

In history’s page, let every stage

Advance Australia Fair.

In joyful strains then let us sing,

Advance Australia Fair.


Beneath our radiant Southern Cross

We’ll toil with hearts and hands;

To make this Commonwealth of ours

Renowned of all the lands;

For those who’ve come across the seas

We’ve boundless plains to share;

With courage let us all combine

To Advance Australia Fair.

In joyful strains then let us sing,

Advance Australia Fair.”

Okay I think I know the first six lines. I really should learn all the words to our National Anthem. I remember the referendum. A few other songs were bandied about. A lot of Aussies thought that “I am Australian” should have been the National Anthem.

Kangaroo at Sunrise

Here are the lyrics to I Am Australian. The lyrics were written by Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton, in 1987, with music by Bruce Woodley


“I came from the dream-time, from the dusty red soil plains
I am the ancient heart, the keeper of the flame.
I stood upon the rocky shore, I watched the tall ships come.
For forty thousand years I’ve been the first Australian.

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian

I came upon the prison ship, bowed down by iron chains.
I cleared the land, endured the lash and waited for the rains.
I’m a settler, I’m a farmer’s wife on a dry and barren run
A convict then a free man, I became Australian.

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian

I’m the daughter of a digger who sought the mother lode
The girl became a woman on the long and dusty road
I’m a child of the depression, I saw the good times come
I’m a bushy, I’m a battler, I am Australian

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian

I’m a teller of stories, I’m a singer of songs
I am Albert Namatjira, I paint the ghostly gums
I am Clancy on his horse, I’m Ned Kelly on the run
I’m the one who waltzed Matilda, I am Australian

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian

I’m the hot wind from the desert, I’m the black soil of the plains
I’m the mountains and the valleys, I’m the drought and flooding rains
I am the rock, I am the sky, the rivers when they run
The spirit of this great land, I am Australian

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice:
I am, you are, we are Australian
I am, you are, we are Australian!”

I think that the second song, I am Australian, represents the Australian landscape and the Australian way of life much better than our present National Anthem.

Finally there is a lovely poem written by a 19 year old woman, which I would like to share with you. It is called My Country and was written by Dorothea McKellar.


“The love of field and coppice
Of green and shaded lanes,
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins.
Strong love of grey-blue distance,
Brown streams and soft, dim skies
I know, but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me!

The stark white ring-barked forests,
All tragic to the moon,
The sapphire-misted mountains,
The hot gold hush of noon,
Green tangle of the brushes
Where lithe lianas coil,
And orchids deck the tree-tops,
And ferns the warm dark soil.

Core of my heart, my country!
Her pitiless blue sky,
When, sick at heart, around us
We see the cattle die
But then the grey clouds gather,
And we can bless again
The drumming of an army,
The steady soaking rain.

Core of my heart, my country!
Land of the rainbow gold,
For flood and fire and famine
She pays us back threefold.
Over the thirsty paddocks,
Watch, after many days,
The filmy veil of greenness
That thickens as we gaze …

An opal-hearted country,
A wilful, lavish land
All you who have not loved her,
You will not understand
though Earth holds many splendours,
Wherever I may die,
I know to what brown country
My homing thoughts will fly. ”

I wanted to end this article by singing the praises of Australia. It is a lovely part of the world. It is an island and a continent. We do “throw shrimps on the barbie” as Paul Hogan said in an advertisement campaign. However you are more likely to find that we chuck a snag (put a sausage) on the barbie (barbecue), or cook a lamb chop, a loin chop, or hamburgers or patties. We do our barbecues in style – with salads, bread and butter, plates and knives and forks. If we do sweets you can expect to eat a pavlova, fruit salad, or sometimes cakes or other yummy desserts.

We do not have kangaroos hopping down our main streets. We do have kangaroos, koalas, dingoes, wombats, echidnas, emu and platypus living out in the bush and rivers (the platypus), and some of our zoos also house our wildlife to protect the species. Australia has the most unique landscape and wildlife, due to being an island, and being separated from other continents.

Australia is a lovely country, with such beauty and landscapes, with vast plains, deserts, beaches, sweeping roads, lush rain forests, and so much more. The songs and poem above describe our lovely country. I hope that if you ever want to come over to Australia, that you will let me know. I will throw another shrimp on the barbie, chill a few beers in an esky and welcome you with warm arms. Come on over and visit my wonderful country. I hope the songs and poem above have inspired you to come and have a holiday in this wonderful land. Oh and I hope the writings of Cassandra have inspired you too!

Map of Australia





6 thoughts on “Australia Day 2016

  1. Very interesting to read about Australia’s search for a national anthem. In New Zealand we are having similar discussions around the referenda around choosing a new flag or keeping the old flag. I am hoping we choose a new flag, and it all seems so drawn out, but I realise this can not be rushed.


    1. Hello there. Sorry I haven’t been on WordPress for a while. Dingos are wild dogs and they are dangerous. Dingos are sometimes kept as pets by people who live in the outback but they are very unpredictable. It is not recommended to keep them as pets or to pat them in the wild. You can sometimes see dingos at the zoo.
      Foxes. I am not sure if foxes are of the same family. I don’t think so. Foxes were imported from England, whereas dingos are native to Australia. Foxes are mammals. I think dingos are of the dog family, while the fox is of a different species.
      Thank you for reading my article.


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