Protests and parties have taken place across Australia to mark a controversial date in the country’s history.
Australia Day marks the date a fleet of British ships arrived at Port Jackson, Sydney, on January 26, 1788. The ships carried convicts that would became the first European settlement in Australia.
Some celebrate the date as the beginning of ‘modern Australia’ and came out in full force yesterday to celebrate.
This year were boozy beach parties, firework displays across major cities and countless garden meet-ups.
The festivities are a stark contrast to last year, when coronavirus restrictions meant all events were axed.
But to many on the continent, January 26 is a date to condemn rather than cherish.
While coastlines were filled with Australian flags, the streets of cities were adorned with the traditional Aboriginal flag as protesters called for the abolishment of Australia Day.
The date has also been labelled ‘Invasion Day’ and ‘Survival Day’ by activists.
In Melbourne, red paint was thrown over a statue of British naval officer James Cook.
Marvel actor Chris Hemsworth also joined calls for further change.
The 38-year-old Thor actor shared a series of Instagram posts that explained why the date is offensive to Aboriginal people.
Many of his followers commented they had ‘no idea’ of the controversy.
In the UK, the Royal Family shared a series of photos online to mark the date.
Prime Minister Boris Johnston tweeted: ‘Wishing our Aussie friends and allies a very Happy Australia Day!
‘Our historic trade deal last year marked a new dawn between our nations – underpinned by our shared history and common values I look forward to strengthening this in the years ahead.’
Prime minister Scott Morrison yesterday led a ceremony in the national capital Canberra. He said there had been ‘thousands of gatherings across our country, each reflecting in a different way and celebrating our love of Australia.’
Also in Canberra, people gathered to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Tent Embassy.
The Tent Embassy is a permanent protest occupation site that represents the political rights of Aboriginal Australians.
First established in 1972 under a sole beach umbrella, it is now situated on the lawn opposite Old Parliament House in Canberra.
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