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Australia Day

January 10th, 2020 · No Comments · Books, City Library, Main Branch

January 26th marks Australia’s national holiday, Australia Day. The date was picked to mark the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships to Australia in 1788. The British sought to establish a colony in Australia, known then as ‘New Holland’, after the loss of the American colonies. Australia Day is celebrated similarly to the Fourth of July, but it doesn’t mark the anniversary of Australia’s independence from Great Britain. Instead, it commemorates the day Captain Arthur Philip set foot in what he named ‘Sydney Cove’. The holiday has also been known as ‘Founding Day’, ‘Anniversary Day’, or ‘Invasion Day’ by the Aboriginals, and did not become a holiday until 1936 when planning began for the country’s 150th anniversary.  Australia Day did not become a national public holiday until 1994, and there have been discussions to change the date ever since. Some suggested the national day of Australia be moved to a different date so it is not associated with European settlement, such as Anzac Day on April 25 – similar to our Memorial Day— or May 8th, known simply as ‘Mate’ – a common Australian word meaning ‘friend’.

While the date of Australia’s national holiday may be in contention, it is still a good time to remember Australia’s culture and history. Australia is home to many unique species of animals, some of which have recently been displaced or had their habitats ruined by major bushfires. 80% of animals found in Australia are native to the country, such as kangaroos, koalas, and platypuses. Australia is the flattest and driest country, yet 90% of Australians live near the coast, and there are 10,685 beaches. For more interesting facts on Australia, check out this display:

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