Captain Cook did not arrive in Australia on the 26th of January. The Landing of Captain Cook in Sydney happened on the 28th of April 1770 – not on the 26th of January 1770.

The First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay on the 18th of January. Governor Arthur Phillip rejected Botany Bay choosing instead Port Jackson, to the north, as the site for the new colony; they arrived there on 26 January 1788.

The 26th was chosen as Australia Day for a different reason; however, Captain Cook’s landing was included in Australia Day celebrations as a reminder of a significant historical event.

Since the extravagant bicentenary celebrations of 1988, when Sydney-siders decided Captain Cook’s landing should become the focus of the Australia Day commemoration, the importance of this date for all Australians has been hijacked by the media and self-interest groups.

Now, a generation later, the real reason for celebrating is all but lost.

This is because our politicians and educators have not been doing a good job promoting the day. Our politicians have not been advertising the real reason for Australia Day, and our educators have not been teaching our children the importance of the 26th of January to all Australians.

The media, as usual, is happy to twist the truth for the sake of controversy.

In recent years, the media has helped fan the flames of discontent among the Aboriginal community. Many are now so offended by what they see as a celebration of the beginning of the darkest days of Aboriginal history, they want the date changed.

Various local Councils are seeking to remove themselves from Australia Day celebrations, even refusing to participate in citizenship ceremonies, and calls are going out to have Australia Day on a different day.

The big question is, why has the Government allowed this misconception to continue?

Captain Cook didn’t land on the 26th of January. So changing the date of any celebration of Captain Cook’s landing would not have any impact on Australia Day, but maybe it would clear the way for the truth about Australia Day.The reality is, the Aborigines in this country suffered terribly at the hands of British colonialism. This is as much Australia’s history as the landing of the first fleet, and both should be remembered, equally. Both should be taught, side by side, in our schools.

Australians of today abhor what was done under British governance to the Aborigines. We abhor what was done under British governance to the Irish and many other cultures around the world. So, after the horrors of WWII, we decided to fix it. We became our own people.

On the 26th of January 1949, the Australian nationality came into existence when the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 was enacted. That was the day we were first called Australians and allowed to travel with Passports as Australians.

Under the Nationality Act 1920 (Cth), all Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders born after January 1, 1921, gained the status of British subjects. In 1949, therefore, they automatically became Australian citizens under the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948. However, it wasn’t until 1962 that the Menzies government amended the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to enable all Indigenous Australians to enrol to vote in federal elections.

Before that special date, all people living in Australia, including Aborigines born after 1921, were called ‘British Subjects’ and forced to travel on British Passports and fight in British wars.

We all became Australians on the same day!

Therefore, we celebrate Australia Day on the 26th of January!

This was the day Australians became free to make their own decisions about which wars we would fight and how our citizens would be treated. It was the day Aborigines were declared Australians.
Until this date, Aborigines were not fully protected by British law. For the first time since Cook’s landing, this new Act gave Aboriginal Australians by inference and precedent the full protection of Australian law.

Because of this Act, the government became free to help Aborigines, and since that day much has been done to assist Aboriginal Australians, including saying ‘sorry’ for the previous atrocities done before this law came into being.

This was a great day for all Australians!

This is why the 26th of January is the day new Australians receive their citizenship. It is a day that celebrates the implementation of the Nationality and Citizenship Act of 1948 – the Act which gave freedom and protection to the first Australians and gives all Australians, old and new, the right to live under the protection of Australian Law, united as one nation.

Now, isn’t that cause for celebration?

Education is the keyThere is a great need for education about the real reason we celebrate Australia Day on the 26th of January. This reason needs to be advertised and taught in schools. We all need to remember this one very special day in Australia’s history when freedom came to all Australians.

What was achieved that day is something for which all Australians can be proud!

We need to remember both the good and the bad in our history, but the emphasis must be the freedom and unity all Australians now have, because of what was done on the 26th of January 1949, to allow all of us to live without fear in a land of peace.

Isn’t it time all Australians were taught the real reason we celebrate Australia Day on January 26th?

Authors name withheld on request – Widest distribution is requested.

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  • Perry Neil January 22, 2022   Reply →

    Hear! Hear! that needs to be put out there!

  • MATT WALSH January 22, 2022   Reply →

    I fully support our children and all Australian adults being taught the correct facts and information

  • Charles Mollison January 29, 2022   Reply →

    Sorry Guys, I have to dispute one para in what is otherwise an excellent article.

    The para in question is:-

    ” Because of this Act, the government became free to help Aborigines, and since that day much has been done to assist Aboriginal Australians, including saying ‘sorry’ for the previous atrocities done before this law came into being.”

    If this means the National Gov’t; it is wrong. The Federal Parl’t gained the power to make laws regarding Aborigines as a result of the Referendum in 1967.

    And yes, some good has resulted from this but I contend that much harm has been done – not only to Australian society but also to Aborigines themselves.

  • Lindsay Hackett January 14, 2023   Reply →

    WRONG! Australia Day celebrates the raising of the British flag at Port Jackson on 26 January 1788.

  • Ellen January 24, 2023   Reply →

    I wish we could have a First Nations Day in honour of our aboriginal people! I have always known the reason for Australia Day, because I grew up in the years just after we all became Australians.
    I hate to see the truth made into an untruth and we will never heal until we unite as one people.

  • Kenneth Smth January 25, 2023   Reply →

    We do not need to get buried in the sand – we will always be devided no matter what date until we become one no matter what.
    I am Australian, not a whte Australian or a British Australian, or second nation person.

    We are all Austrailains end of story and we can embrace our culture and stop getting bogged down in the past, yes there were issues but keep protesting and use it as a way to divide our Nation is not the way.

    I know many Australian Aboriginal people celebrate Australia Day as just a holiday – and are happy with that

  • Neil Hogan January 27, 2023   Reply →

    They chose January 26 to enable the Nationality and Citizenship Act in 1948 because it was the anniversary of the British flag being planted at Port Jackson and the formal possession of Terra Australis was taken by the British government.

    It is still a divisive day and the date for Australia Day should be changed.

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