Australia Day

Happy Australia to my mates down under wish I were to help celebrate. The following is from the Writers Almanac for those of you who are unfamiliar with Australia day.

Today is Australia Day, the day on which Australians celebrate the establishment of the first British settlement in that country in 1788. Captain James Cook had been the first European to discover the island continent in 1770, and he informed the British government that it might make a good place for a settlement. By 1780, Great Britain's prisons were growing overcrowded because they had lost their colonies in America, which was where they had been sending prisoners. So they decided to start sending convicts to Australia, which was then called New South Wales.

The first shipment consisted of about 730 convicts, among them highway robbers, jewel thieves, and a woman who had tried to steal 24 yards of black silk lace. The military guards carried no ammunition, so that their guns could not be used against them in a mutiny. Two attempted mutinies were put down during the voyage. Forty-eight people died before they reached their destination, which was considered a remarkably successful survival rate. They arrived on this day in 1788 and settled an area they called Sydney Cove, around which would grow the city of Sydney.


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