Friday, November 17, 2006

The most important fact in my country's history - Australia


The most important fact in my country's history is a bit of a contentious point - some call it settlement, others call it invasion.

On January 26, 1788 James Cook sailed into Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) to settle a colony of convicts. It was claimed under the concept of Terra Nullius, meaning the land was void of civilised inhabitants and not claimed by an allied empire. This is considered the beginning of European settlement and development in Australia.

At the time, however, Australia was not uninhabited. Many nations of Aboriginal people lived across the continent, particularly the Eora tribe, who lived in the area of Sydney Cove when Cook's fleet arrived. In the course of establishing themselves in the new land, the Europeans kidnapped and killed many Aboriginal people and episodes of mistreatment between the 'whitefellas' and the 'blackfellas' have continued on through two centuries.

We celebrate Australia Day each year on January 26 to commemorate Cook's first landing in Australia. Some Aboriginal people hold native ceremonies on that day too, but they call it Invasion Day. Either way, it is definitely our most important historical event.

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