Australia Day

Australia Day in Sydney Harbor in 2004. (Photo by Phil Whitehouse via Wikimedia Commons)

Today is Australia Day.

Here are some things you may not have known about Australia’s national holiday.

Australia Day marks the 1788 arrival of the British First Fleet near Sydney, about 18 years after the first European set foot there.

The fleet was sent to Australia to establish a penal colony on the coast of New South Wales following the loss of the British colonies that became the United States. The fleet arrived at Botany Bay on about a week before, but realized that the land there was unsuitable for a prison colony. After weathering a storm, the fleet moved about 15 miles north to Sydney Cove, where on the morning of January 26, Captain Arthur Phillip raised the British flag in the name of George III.

The formal establishment of the Colony of New South Wales didn’t happen until February 7.

The first formal celebration of the day was held in 1818, the 30th anniversary. A 30-gun salute marked the occasion, and all government workers in New South Wales were given an extra allowance of a pound of meat. At first the holiday was called Foundation Day.

Each of the colonies of Australia held their own holidays on their different founding days. Tasmania held Regatta Day in December, South Australia had Proclamation Day on December 28, and Western Australia celebrated Foundation Day on June 1.

In 1888, on the 100th anniversary of the founding of New South Wales, all colonial capitals, except Adelaide, celebrated Anniversary day. By 1935, all the states of Australia celebrated January 26 as Australia Day, although it was still called Anniversary Day in New South Wales.

It wasn’t until 1994 that all states and territories celebrated a unified public holiday on the same day.

The holiday is regarded by some as a symbol of the British domination of indigenous people. Some mark the day as Invasion Day or Survival Day. Many celebrations of Australia Day acknowledge this history and include indigenous people.

Our question: Who originally claimed New South Wales for the British in 1770?


Today is Republic Day in India, Liberation Day in Uganda, and Engineer’s Day in Panama.

It’s unofficially National Peanut Brittle Day, Clashing Clothes Day, and International Customs Day.

It’s the birthday of General Douglas MacArthur, who as born in 1880; actor Paul Newman, who was born in 1925; comedian Ellen DeGeneres, who is 59; and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, who is 56.

Because our topic happened before 1960, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 2015, the top song in the U.S. was “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars.

The No. 1 movie was “American Sniper,” while the novel “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.

Weekly question: In the song “American Pie,” who is referred to as “The Jester”?

Submit your answer at and we’ll add the name of the person with the first correct answer to our winner’s wall … at We’ll have the correct answer on tomorrow’s episode.



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