January 26 is Australia Day, the official National Day of Australia.
It marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip.
Convicts in Britain were originally transported to the Thirteen Colonies in North America. But after the American Revolutionary War ended in 1783, the newly formed United States refused to accept further convicts. The settlement was seen as necessary because of the loss of the Thirteen Colonies in North America.
On December 6, 1785, Orders in Council were issued in London for the establishment of a penal colony in New South Wales, on land claimed for Britain by explorer James Cook in his first voyage to the Pacific in 1770.
The First Fleet was commanded by Captain (later Admiral) Arthur Phillip, who was given instructions authorizing him to make regulations and land grants in the colony.
The fleet consisted of two Royal Navy vessels, three store ships and six convict transports, carrying more than 1,000 convicts, marines and seamen, and a vast quantity of stores.
On May 13, 1787 a fleet of 11 ships, which came to be known as the First Fleet, was sent by the British Admiralty from England to Australia. From England, the Fleet sailed southwest to Rio de Janeiro, then east to Cape Town and via the Great Southern Ocean to Botany Bay.
Under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip, the fleet sought to establish a penal colony at Botany Bay on the coast of New South Wales, which had been explored and claimed by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770.
The Fleet arrived between 18 and 20 January 1788, but it was immediately apparent that Botany Bay was unsuitable. On January 21, Phillip and a few officers travelled to Port Jackson, 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) to the north, to see if it would be a better location for a settlement. They stayed there until January 23; Phillip named the site of their landing “Sydney Cove”, after the Home Secretary, Thomas Townshend, 1st Viscount Sydney. They also made contact with the local Aboriginal people.
On January 26, early in the morning, Phillip along with a few dozen marines, officers and oarsmen, rowed ashore and took possession of the land in the name of King George III. The remainder of the ship’s company and the convicts watched from on board Supply. All the remaining ships finally managed to clear Botany Bay and sail to Sydney Cove on January 26. The last ship anchored there at about 3pm.
The formal establishment of the Colony of New South Wales did not occur on January 26 as is commonly assumed. It did not occur until February 7, 1788, when the formal proclamation of the colony and of Arthur Phillip’s governorship were read out.
In present-day Australia, celebrations reflect the diverse society and landscape of the nation, and are marked by community and family events, reflections on Australian history, official community awards, and citizenship ceremonies welcoming new immigrants into the Australian community.
In commemoration of the day, let us share wonderful Japan stories of people from Australia!
*Click a photo below to see their stories!
“I confirmed that I wanted to come and live in Japan as a singer.” – Katy Phillip, Singer/Performer