Stealing Australia Day

It’s Australia Day and it’s raining. A lot. The party is not happening anywhere. In fact, I am “flooded in”. The roads are under water and will be so for a few days. I have never seen rain like this in my life. More on that in a few days time.

Now where did that image go?

This is rain water reaching up into a tree’s canopy. I will post more photos of the floods soon, it’s crazy out here…

Meanwhile, I live on a hill and we have a boat, so we’re waiting it out. And speaking of boats, I’ve been reading up on why today is called Australia Day. The media is all over this historic day and the vultures are out to spin their coins and votes on the Aussie myth of multiculturalism.

Yet it’s hard to ignore that today is the anniversary of the violent occupation of a whole continent inhabited by real people with an ancient history and wisdom.

225 years ago yesterday, a certain Captain Arthur Phillip and a few dozen soldiers, rowed ashore in Sydney Cove and took possession of Australia in the name of the English King George III. Australia’s very first boat people had arrived on the First Fleet and they started a prison as the first thing.

Now where did that image go?

A cartoon by Joel Tarling

They had come on a fleet of 11 ships sent by the British Admiralty, carrying nearly 1500 people, of which approximately half were convicts. For 252 days they had been traveling more than 24,000 km, losing almost 50 lives en route.

Heavy storms, rats and scurvy was the menu of the day on this ill-conceived voyage, but the shores of the oldest continent did little to comfort the weary settlers. Crops didn’t grow like at home and the trees were so hard they had to shoot them to fell them. What an image. Nevertheless, they had come to stay, it was the beginning of the Australian nation.

Now where did that image go?

I found this cartoon on Facebook, having been shared 4022 times, been “liked” 2971 times and received 373 comments ranging from far left to far right points of view. Serious humor!

In essence, a pale man in a fancy hat from way over the other side of the planet, rocked up in a big boat one day and put a claim on more than 7 million square kilometers by planting a blue flag in the sand. But however silly this seems, it wasn’t a children’s game.

Terra Nullius they called it, a term for unclaimed land which arrogantly considers the knowledge and application of European agriculture a prerequisite for any land rights. Using this term, the English could somehow justify one of history’s biggest land-grabs with no regard to the actual inhabitants of this massive land mass.

Now where did that image go?

Yay, we are still here! Australia Day celebration.

In other words, the millions of human beings, whose families for time immemorial had lived on this land, were considered not to feel any sense of belonging to their environment because they weren’t plowing with oxen, wearing tweed trousers, drinking tea at 5 or growing oats, barley and cabbage.

As recent as the 1990’s the Australian courts were openly ruling against aboriginal land claims by referring to the Terra Nullius term. That’s not even just backwards, that is a blatant insult. Racism is basically inherent in the very foundation of this nation.

Now where did that image go?

This is a map of all the different languages spoken by the Aboriginals of Australia. Terra Nullius my ass.

On Australia Day, everybody gets a day off. Beers & barbecues abound and the media is full of flags and polished European versions of the Australian history. Feels like someone is obviously elaborating on a story to cover up for a lie.

The other day on the brand new (and first) nation-wide Aboriginal TV channel, NITV, a native lady was asked when “enough is enough” in regards to financial support from the Australian government to its indigenous peoples. Her swift reply; “as far as I am concerned they still have to pay us rent!”

Happy Invasion Day…

Like to get the real (hi)story? Check out my post on New Zealand’s memorial day of the controversial treaty between the Maori people and the Queen of England.


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