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Thursday, January 24, 2019

January 26 is Australia Day

We're built, as a nation, on the grounds of a concentration camp. It's like saying, "OK, here's Auschwitz. Here's where we'll start our country.

~ Peter Carey (b.1943) (of Australia, City Limits, London, 1 April 1988) 

An interesting change of heart in these next two quotes: 

I have been disappointed in all my experiences of Australia, except as to its wickedness; for it is far more wicked than I have conceived it possible for any place to be, or than it is possible for me to describe to you in England. 

~ Henry Parkes (wiki) (1815-1896) (letter, 1 May 1840, later published in An Emigrant's Home Letters

With our splendid harbor, our beautifully situated city, our vast territories, all our varied and inexhaustible natural wealth, if we don't convert our colony into a great and prosperous nation, it will be a miracle of error for which we shall have to answer as for a gigantic sin. 

~ Parkes* (speech, Melbourne, 16 March 1867) 

In the weltering hell of the Moorooroo plain 
The Yatala Wangary withers and dies,
And the Worrow Wanilla, demented with pain,
To the Woolgoolga woodlands despairingly flies ...

Mark Twain (1835-1910) (Following the Equator, Ch. 36, "A Sweltering Din - Australia", stanza. 7**) 

Governor Arthur Phillip hoists the British flag
over the new colony at Sydney in 1788.
Today is Australia Day (wiki), the anniversary of the date in 1788 when Captain Arthur Phillip led a fleet of convict ships into Sydney Cove and initiated the establishment of New South Wales, Australia, as a penal colony.*** By the mid-19th century, free immigration had replaced the transportation of convicts in populating the country, and a half dozen other colonies were established there, leading to a final federation as the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901. British involvement in Australian affairs was formally abolished in 1986, and in many ways, the modern nation more resembles the United States than any other in the world. 

* N.B. Australian statesman Henry Parkes was instrumental in welding the independent colonies of that sub-continent into a single nation. 

** Twain's poem, of which this is only one of about ten stanzas, was written in 1897 and is based entirely on real Australian place names. 

*** It was the independence of the United States that forced the English to find an alternative destination for the "transportation" of criminals. 

Here's a brief video on Australia Day:

Australia's well-known, but unofficial, national song: 

Related post:

April 25th is ANZAC Day - the Battle of Gallipoli was 100 years ago

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