The Birth of Australia

On the morning of the 26th January, a site was cleared and a flagstaff erected. Phillip and his officers came ashore in the afternoon and, to the accompaniment of toasts, the customary volleys of musket fire and three rousing cheers from the whole company, the British flag was hoisted. European settlement of Australia had begun.

Australia Day itself, January 26, has been observed in New South Wales as far back as 1791. From 1838, January 26 was proclaimed ad a public holiday. In 1888 celebrations were held, and the Governors of every colony in Australia attended. Various states however, were celebrating their own days in different ways.

Today, January 26 is Australia Day in every part of our vast continent.

History of Australia Day

The First Fleet
Under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip, the First Fleet set sail from England on 13 May 1787. It comprised the HMS “Sirius”; HMS “Supply”, six transports and three supply ships.

Captain Phillip, in HMS “Supply” arrived first at the planned destination, Botany Bay on 18 January 1788. The rest of the Fleet arrived over the next two days. By the time the other vessels of the Fleet arrived, Phillip had decided that Botany Bay was unsuitable. He set off with a party to investigate Port Jackson, nine miles to the north.

Some four miles up the harbour, on the south shore, a cove was found with a good run of fresh water and excellent anchorage.

Phillip ordered the whole Fleet to transfer to the new site, which he named Sydney after the British Colonial Secretary.