The 26th of January | Australia Day

Australian Flag
Australian Flag

So, it`s the 26th of January, which means for us in Australia ‘Australia Day’. A public holiday where most people enjoy their day with family and friends, drinking, having a barbecue, going to the beach or if something in your city or town is organised, you can have a look over there.

But where is Australia day actually for? What do we celebrate? Or do we remember? There is always speculations about the cause of Australia day, good and bad. So we decided today we will try to explain a bit of history of Australia day written by our own knowledge and sourced by stories around Australia, we heard from different groups of people.

Brief history of Australia

About 400 years ago, the VOC ( Verenigde Oost Indische Company in Dutch ) or the Dutch East Indian Company in English, was the most powerful trade business and the first multinational in the world. They were trading all over the Indian Ocean and were looking for anything that could make a profit, and that trading, innovative and entrepreneur spirit you still see in a lot of Duchies these days.

Even though the Dutch where the ones who discovered Australia in 1606 when Willem Janszoon with his ship the Duyfken landed on Cape York Peninsula, the VOC trade men had no interest and saw not enough value in settlement and trading in Australia because of the lack of water, the dry ground and not enough fertile soil.

On another note: There where also a lot of unregistered landings on Australian soil by a few other country`s like Portugal and Asian Country`s.

The British

Uk Flag


But the English did, so the 11 ships from England, which is called the First Fleet because they where the first ones to come on land to actually settle, entered Sydney at the 26th of January 1788 and started the first European settlement in Australia.

So there is a group of people who celebrate Australia Day because of the British settlement back on the 26th of January 1788.

The Dutch

Dutch Flag


But where are the Dutch in the celebrations? The Dutch who played a huge roll in this story. There is a group of people who thinks the Dutch should be honoured more on this day, as the Dutch are the ones who not only discovered Australia first, they are also the ones that saved the first fleet, with sending tons of food supplies from Batavia, when the British settlers very much-needed it. Without the help of the Dutch, there would have been no British first fleet.

Later, failures in growing food on the lands, and fights with Indigenous landowners led to starvation and many troubles, and again, there where the Dutch, who came in with their ship called the Waaksamheyd and brought in tonnes of food, medicines and other much-needed supplies.

A sad side story is apparently that Indigenous people helped out and provided food to the first settlers, leaving them short in providing for themselves, and when the Waaksamheyd came in with food, they hoped on a fair share for their help, but unfortunately most people didn’t share to the Indigenous people who helped them out, but instead kept it all for themselves.

In 1644, Abel Tasman came and called nowadays Australia New Holland. And nowadays Tasmania ( discovered by Abel Tasman as well ) was called van Diemen`s Land.

But apart from giving the name New Holland to nowadays Australia, the Dutch didn’t claim any territory in Australia. After naming it New Holland, lots of Dutch explorers still landed at Australian shore, especially in Western and South Australia and discovered new places everywhere around Australia.

Indigenous Australians

Australian Aboriginal flag
Australian Aboriginal flag


And then we have the group who are not sharing the opinion that Australia day is a celebration, but they call it Invasion Day. The Day the Europeans came in and basically invited into the land of the traditional and first owners and habitats of Australia, which are of course the Indigenous Australians.  At Australia day people also recognise the history of the Indigenous people, and the things happened after the invasion, like people who got removed from their lands and homes, and their culture that wasn’t honoured and respected by government policies. Although there are still a lot of ceremony`s to remember and recognise this, there are also marches with people protesting the celebration of Australia Day and ask for more respect and justice for Indigenous people. People are also campaigning to get Australia day`s date changed.

Multicultural Australia

We all know, Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world. Apart from the Indigenous people, everyone is basically a mix between the first settlers, the British, Europeans, Asians and all other country`s who came to this promising land.

Today, there are more than 200 languages spoken in Australia with more than 18 % of Australian people speaking another language then English and 28 % of the population is born in another country then Australia.

What do you think of Australia Day? Do you have anything to say? Are you celebrating Australia Day? Let us know in the below comments.



Photography of maps & content © by | Content based on our own knowledge + Historical Facts + Stories of people from different backgrounds.


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  • Thanks so much Priti! Thank you as well for sharing your information about Waitangi Day in NZ. Never heard of it and sounds a bit like Australia Day. Do you have a lot of ‘celebration ‘ or special public holidays? X Jo

  • Interesting post Jo, I didn’t know the history behind Australia Day, thanks for sharing! We recently celebrated Waitangi Day here in NZ – Where the Maori (indigenous) and the Europeans singed a treaty of peace. While it’s a day of celebration, it’s also a day of protest for some. Hope you had a lovely day anyway! X

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