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Australia Day 1954

January 26, 2016

As my birthday comes just a few days after Australia Day, I have been wondering what this special day was like in the year of my birth. I did suspect it was a little different. I don’t recall there being much patriotism about our country in my younger years.

Really, my memories are only of it being a holiday weekend, with the day always being celebrated on the closest Monday, thereby always ensuring we had a long weekend to enjoy in what was usually a hot, lazy January.

I found the article below in TROVE, discussing exactly that – our lack of patriotism, or love of the day just for the long weekend and sport. It appears there was very little celebration of our national day, as I suspected.

This article was published just a couple of days after my birth. How different Australia Day is today. Today, I attended a local community Australia Day breakfast and witnessed patriotism of our day at it’s best.

from The Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania, 2 February 1954

Australia Day

AUSTRALIA’S NATIONAL DAY:  AUSTRALIA DAY, 1954, is past. It will be remembered, if it is remembered at all; as a day of bad weather which caused many sporting functions to be abandoned or curtailed, and kept many people indoors with young, restless families.

That yesterday did all these things is indis- putable, but Australia Day can scarcely be blamed. After all, the national day, if it is to be recognised as such, fell last Tuesday, January 26, the anniversary of the first British settlement at Port Jackson, 166 years ago.

The fact is that Australia has no national day. Anzac Day is it’s nearest approach ; it undoubtedly has something of the spirit which should grip a nation on its special national day. But Anzac Day has its special application to – cetrtain members of the community who rightly regard it as their own.

There are sound reasons why January 26 should be celebrated fittingly as Australia Day. There is no tradition of revolt as in the United States and France. The country was settled peacefully – as far as any settlement can be peaceful – and the obvious choice for a national day is the anniversary of the first landing of a settling party.

Everyone recognises this, but no one has acted to ensure that January 26 develops into

national day with a national meaning. It can be done with proper leadership. That is how other countries have made their special days truly

significant. In Australia, it is now just another Mon- | day holiday with little meaning – a day for more race meetings and sports carnivals.


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