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Geoffrey Blainey on Australia Day

Australia Day doubters misread our past

Geoffrey Blainey

From the Weekend Australian, 25 January 2018

Australia Day is still important. The nation would be unwise — and seen by later generations as foolish — if it did not proclaim its legitimacy, and its successes and even failures too, on one special day.

Admittedly, many critics deride January 26 as Invasion Day, though they read their history backwards. Captain Arthur Phillip had no intention of launching an invasion that would eventually cover and conquer even a fraction of Australia.

He made no claims whatsoever to the sites of Darwin or Perth. He was interested only in the area close to Sydney Harbour, which he acquired with ease. It was easy because the Aborigines were divided; many welcomed him at first.

The British were more interested in sea than land. After Sydney Harbour their next choice was Norfolk Island, 1500km out to sea.

On February 14, 1788, almost three weeks after that first Australia Day, sailors and convicts left Sydney to occupy that remote ­island. There they were at work before Governor Phillip set eyes on Parramatta and the Hawkesbury River.

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