To all our members in Australia, and to all Australia members elsewhere in the world, Happy Australia Day!
Marked annually on 26 January, Australia Day celebrates the anniversary of the arrival of First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales in 1788.
Setting off from Portsmouth, England, on 13 May 1787, the First Fleet was made up of 11 ships carrying about 1,487 people and stores, which had travelled for 252 days for more than 15,000 miles without losing a ship. The voyage was not without loss though, with one marine, one marine's wife, one marine's child, 36 male convicts, four female convicts, and five children of convicts reported to have died during the trip.
Originally destined for Botany Bay, the fleet had chosen the location based on the account given by explorer Captain James Cook on his voyage of 1770, but once arrived, they found the bay to be too shallow for the ships to moor near the shore, the soil to be poor and there to be a lack of fresh water.
So, instead the fleet explored further north, settling on Port Jackson as a much better location for the raising of a penal colony. The bay was renamed Sydney Cove, from which the modern-day city of Sydney derives its name, after the British Home Secretary, Lord Sydney.
Celebration on 26 January date back as far as 1808, although it has not always been known as Australia Day, variously being called Anniversary Day and Foundation Day over the years. It was not until 1935 that the country officially adopted the name Australia Day, which has remained since. The public holiday is celebrated throughout the country and by Australians the world over. Happy Australia Day!