Friday, 26 January 2007

Reconciliation - when? Not on Australia Day 2007.

This is a picture of Sydney Cove, taken from a significant point on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

On 21 January, 1788, Captain Arthur Philip and the First Fleet, a raggle taggle collection of convicts and hardly-better British soldiers, reached Sydney Cove (the water in this picture) to establish a British convict colony.

On 26 January, the British flag was raised at Sydney Cove and the colony officially began.

Captain James Cook had sailed along the coast 18 years earlier, and had stopped in Botany Bay, south of here. Cook saw the entrance to the harbour on May 6, 1770, and named it Port Jackson, after a friend, one of the secretaries of the British Admiralty, George Jackson. He noted that it looked like a good anchorage, but decided to sail on, so he never entered this magnificent harbour. Cook, and his botanist, Joseph Banks, recommended a settlement at Botany Bay, however Philip found it did not possess a reliable fresh water supply, so after anchoring there on 18 January 1788, decided to move on to explore the possiblity of the anchorage at Port Jackson. Philip and the First Fleet arrived here on 21 January, and named it Sydney Cove. There was a stream, the Tank Stream, for water.

On 26 January, 1788, Philip raised the British flag and so founded the colony. That occasion id now commemorated as Australia Day, a public holiday.

That act also signifies the dispossession of the land from its original inhabitants, the Aboriginal people, although that was probably not the original intention.

A doctrine was used in British law, known as terra nullius (empty land) - now overthrown in Australian law. It asserte that the land was empty of people, and thus free for the taking. Cook had thought, because he encountered so few people around the coasts, that the interior must be empty.

In fact living in this very place were the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, Philip was under instructions to be friendly and to treat with them. A subsequent governor (Macarthur) went back to England to get terra nullius invoked, when he wanted to clear Aborigines from land he wanted to expand into.

This has led to more than 2 centuries of injustice towards the Aboriginal people.

At the southern end of the walkway across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a plaque commemorates the Reconciliation Walk of 28 May 2000. On that say, there seemed like there was enormous hope for reconciliation between Australia's Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, as referred to yesterday. Under the policies of the current federal gocernment, that hope has dimmed - I hope temporarily. Now THAT will be a day to celebrate!!

The plaque reads:

On 28 May 2000, more than 250,000 people walked across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in support of reconciliation. In the months that followed a million more Australians participated in similar walks throughout the nation. Mari budjari yana. Unveiled on 27 May 2004


  1. Happy Australia Day to all Australians, no matter where they came from.

    Have a tinny on me!

  2. Everything good to the whole Australia :)
    I remember, what was happening in Europe 1789, because my history teacher was like an actor, when he told about the revolution of France or a mythology of Greece.
    Now I will remember 1788 from Australia, thanks to your writing!

  3. Love the blue and white colors all over the photo. Brilliant shot!

  4. Thank you, Sally, for all these explanations, i'm very interessed even if my bad English level doesn't allow me to go further with you. Hope a day will come where respect, faith and exchange take the place of contempt, treason and weapons and not only in Australia... Probably an ingenuous dream but i want to believe that things are getting better.In France, we have a severe problem with the immigrants come from Algeria or some African countries for example and their children born in France. Everyone needs to improve...

  5. Superbe photo, et merci pour le commentaire, tres interessant.

    Passe un bon weeck end

    Superb photograph, and thank you for the comment, very interesting. Pass a good weeck end

  6. Thank you for the explanation.

    And what is that funny building in the middle?


  7. Very glad you raised this fundamental subject. I also believe there couldnt be a worse date than 26th January to celebrate Australia day. Can't possibly be a date all Australians are comfortable with.