The Commonwealth of Australia encompasses the landmass of Australia, the island of Tasmania, (south of the mainland across the Bass Strait), and various islands.
History and Origin of Australian Day
Dutch merchants christened the continent New Holland, after stumbling upon it while journeying to Java in the 1600s. However, much has happened to shape this realm into one of the most developed countries in the world.
Sight-Seeing in Australia
This land boasts an overabundance of attractions to please even the most discerning traveler.
Culture and Shopping
For culture connoisseurs, The Sydney Opera House is a must see. This iconic heritage site houses top-class restaurants, theatres, concert- and exhibition halls, with the Royal Botanical Gardens decorating its southern boundaries.
Shoppers can visit the legendary spending centers and galleries of Melbourne. Added attractions are the Melbourne Cricket Grounds and the National Gallery of Victoria.
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Travelers entranced by architectural engineering, must visit the Sidney Harbor Bridge. Recognized as the largest steel arch bridge in the world, the structure incorporates pedestrian paths, eight lanes of road traffic and several railway lines.
The most famous natural exhibit found in Australia is The Great Barrier Reef. Located in a national park, the reef is visible from outer space and has been hailed as one of the seven wonders of the world. This living structure is home to delicate ecosystems comprising of coral reefs and cays, inshore mangrove islands and an extensive array of marine life.
Australia embraces nature in its purest form. This is evident in the wonder of the majestic red rock in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park and the spectacular landscape off the Great Ocean Road along the south-east coast. Check out these fourteen top-rated attractions for tourists when visiting Australia: https://www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions/australia-aus.htm.
World Heritage Sites
Many of the country’s national parks have been declared national heritage sites by UNESCO.
Blue Mountains National Park is known for the beautiful blue mist rising over eucalyptus forests. Other noteworthy sights include aboriginal art and the Three Sisters sandstone rock formations.
Daintree National Park is a Wet Tropics Heritage Area and holds spiritual importance for indigenous people of the region. Sightseers can look forward to spotting the Giant Ulysses butterfly, cassowaries or magnificent waterfalls and rainforests.
Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world, may be viewed all year round. It showcases bubbling rock pools, sandstone cliffs and novel wild horses and dingoes. Kakadu National Park on the other hand, hides its mangrove swamps, rain forests and large variety of birds and mammals during the wet monsoon season.
The history of Australia is rich and colorful. The largest island in the world, was originally home to the indigenous Kaurna-, Aboriginal- and Torres Strait Islander people. It is alleged that the 15th century saw the first fact-finding interest into the southern land, from Asian and Arabian scouts. Portuguese and Spanish expeditions followed suit in the quest for wealth and knowledge.
However, it was only in the early 16th century, that Dutch adventurers set foot on land at Shark Bay, Western Australia. Many more explorations followed until Abel Tasman founded Tasmania in 1646 and discovered Batavia and New Zealand thereafter.
Britain entered the fray in 1688 when William Dampier ventured a survey of his own into the mysteries of the region. He gave the island such a bad rap, that many years passed before curiosity was rekindled in the 18th century.
History places Captain James Cook on the vessel HMS Endeavour, on the shores of Botany Bay, New South Wales in April 1770. Subsequent voyages to the southern land gave Britain a strong hold on the prize. French and British explorers continued efforts to successfully map the area, including the Bass Strait, until the late 1700s.
In 1801, an excursion led by Captain Matthew Flinders, an English navigator and surveyor, succeeded in circumventing and mapping the island, subsequently renaming it Australia in 1817.
The colonization of the new land started in 1787 when a fleet of British vessels made land at Port Jackson with one-thousand-seven-hundred-and-thirty convicts on board. The next few decades saw many settlements, including Sidney, forming and expanding inland. British possession of the entire region was all but complete by the late 1700s.
Colonizing Australia was tumultuous and claimed many native and European lives. The Castle Hill Rising amongst Irish convicts in 1804, The Rum Rebellion of 1808 and action by Emancipist factions, proved deadly. The strife eventually led to the development of a judicial system to replace the authoritarian reign of corrupt governors and service officers looking to fill their own coffers.
Four of the six Australian states were formed between 1829 and 1859. Economic enterprise in the nature of sheep farming, seal hunting and whaling sustained colonists and convict laborers. Religion, science, architecture and education developed exponentially and, together with the discovery of gold and copper, aided the economic growth of the new nation.
IMPACT OF COLONISATION ON INDIGENOUS AUSTRALIANS
The Aboriginal people of Australia have often been characterized as being obliging and approachable. However, colonization of their land in 1788, signified the end of their culture, their livelihoods and in some cases, their lives.
Riddled by disease and facing hopeless poverty and discrimination, the Aboriginal people fought back to protect their birthright. Conflict led to the death of thousands and the eventual exile of the people to ghettoes or reserved areas. Although many of the native people survived, the pain of generational distress, detachment from culture and societal discrimination still lingers in the hearts and minds of many.
Also known as First Landing Day, Invasion Day or Survival Day, Australia Day is meant to be a celebration of a united, diverse nation. For better insight read more here. Annually, 26th of January, citizens contemplate a volatile history, modern values and ethics.
However, on the anniversary of this day, Aboriginal citizens march, protest, and remember the injustices of the past. Their celebration recognizes the survival of a people, despite the devastating odds against them.