What actually took place on the 26th January in the year of our Lord 1788?

 

Yes, it’s that time of the year again, when we have a barney about Australia Day. So in order to avoid any misunderstandings, let us delve deep into our bosoms and ask ourselves, what exactly are we commemorating?

Some of our most venerable leaders are of the misguided belief that January 26th 1788 is the day Captain Cook arrived on these fair shores.

But alas, they are sorely mistaken, for it states most clearly in Wikipedia, for all to see, that Mr. Cook arrived some 18 years earlier in the year of our lord 1770. Others are of the opinion that the 26th of January is the day The First Fleet set eyes on our dusty continent. But that was actually a couple of days earlier, on January 19th, when they entered Botany Bay, but being quite dissatisfied with the camping facilities provided, they decamped. (no BBQ Area apparently).

Yet others believe for some reason known only to themselves, that the 26th of January is the day Governor Philip proclaimed the establishment of a penal colony on these fair shores, but who wants to commemorate that? January 26th is actually the day The First Fleet entered Sydney Cove. After securing the BBQ Area, their very first act of barbarism, (but surely not their last) was to run up the nearest hill, plant the Union Jack in the ground and claim the entire continent in the name of King George III. So what we are so boisterously celebrating to this day, is the very moment the country was stolen from its rightful owners.

After that task was accomplished the convicts were allowed to disembark from the ships. Bear in mind, they had not set foot on dry land for 8 months. Naturally they set about getting to know each other,(in the biblical sense) According to Robert Hughes, author of The Fatal Shore –‘The convicts had an orgy! If that wasn’t enough, the sailors then proceeded to get drunk and join them in their licentious cavorting.’

Maybe it is this convivial display of ‘mateship’ that we commemorate today, in a somewhat less exuberant fashion?

Whatever it is, this act of commemoration we indulge in, is certainly no ancient tradition. It was only made a National Public Holiday in 1994, by one Paul Bloody Keeting no less, who should have known better.

Remember that the historic Mabo decision was handed down just two years before, in1992. That legally binding decision completely dismissing the extravagant claim shouted from that hilltop by those enthusiastic young men on that odd and fateful day so long ago.

 

Ben Boyang 2019

CAPTAIN COOK

Those who did not pay attention in primary school may not be aware of the fact that Australia was discovered by Captain Cook in 1770. Some of you may be suffering from the delusion that it was discovered some 40,000 years earlier by a bunch of blackfellas. Some may believe it was Willem Janszoon, purportedly the first white man to set foot on this land, in the vicinity of Cape York way back in 1606 would you believe, or maybe Dirk Hartog who mapped the west coast in 1616, or William Dampier in 1669. But you see, the problem with all these people is they were not Englishmen and we all know that Australia was discovered by the English, the very pinnacle of human evolution according to the social Darwinism that was all the rage at the time. So there fore logically speaking they could not have discovered Australia because they were Dutchmen weren’t they? But hang on, what about good old Able Tasman who discovered Tasmania several times, way back in 1642. Wasn’t he a full blooded Englishman? Why wasn’t he allowed to discover Australia?

Buggered if I know.

So we all know that Captain Cook visited Australia in 1770. Some of you may not be aware that he sailed all the way up the east coast without once setting foot on terra firma. It was not until his boat sprung a leak on the notorious Great Barrier Reef that he came ashore to fix it. There he encountered the Guugu Yimidirrh people.

He offered them gifts of cloth, nails and paper all of which they obviously found completely useless, but they were delighted when he gave them a fish, which they regarded as a symbolic gift.

He shot a large fury animal and asked one of the Australians what it was called. The fellow said gungurru. The first Australian word ever recorded.

After repairing the boat, which took 6 weeks, Captain Cook bid a fond farewell to the Guugu Yimidirrh and set sail for the Cook islands which had a different name at the time, where he did not receive such a warm welcome.

He wrote in his log, ‘From what I have seen of the natives of New Holland, they may appear to be some of the most wretched people on Earth. But in reality they are far happier than we Europeans, being wholly unacquainted not only with the superfluous, but with the necessary conveniences so much sought after in Europe. They are happy in not knowing the use of them. They live in tranquillity. The earth and the sea of their own accord furnish them with all things necessary in life.’

This is a very important statement. A description of the first encounter with people living in the Stone Age. They were obviously as happy, if not happier than we are today. So that begs the question ‘what is all this development for? All this technology, all these gadjets, all this stuff. Obviously not to make us happier, we were already happy. The only advantage to all this technological development is, we can support more and more people. But is the world a better place for having more people in it? Are we happier because there are more of us? This is not a rhetorical question? This is a very important question, at the very nub of the paradigm shift we face. The only advantage to an ever increasing population is that it is good for bussines. An ever growing population is an ever growing market. It keeps wages down and prices up. It keeps the economy growing and an economy that is not growing is not an economy at all.

Now where was I before I drifted off course into that diatribe. Ah yes, Captain Cook was sailing off to meet his grizzly fate. A friend of mine was teaching at a school in Aukland a place much frequented by auks and cook islanders. She innocently asked of her 5th graders ‘what do you know about Captain Cook?’ A little girl, of no more than 8 years old pipped up with ‘ my great great grandfather ate him’

 

Aparently Australia wasn’t always called Australia. When Captain Cook first arrived in his boat, he spied a group of natives involved in some sort of elaborate ceremony involving fire and animal sacrifice. Ignoring the caution of his less intrepid companions he strode purposefully up to them and asked ‘what is the name of this place’ To which the natives replied in surprisingly good English”This is the barbeque area, bro”

Captain Cook promptly claimed all of Barbequearea in the name of the king and returned to England forthwith to tell said king the good news. The king however was not impressed, having delt with cheeky natives before.

‘they are pulling your leg, having a lend of you, taking the piss”. The good Captain was blank with incomprehension till the king said “Jim, they were being faceacious.”

 

Ben Boyang