Do you fancy another date?


Just no.

As is well known, the Dodgy Perth team are patriotic loyalists to the core, as well as being internationally recognised historians (hello mum). Which means we are often asked about whether Australia Day should be on the 26 January, or if some other date would do equally well. Sit down, fire up the barbie, take a big sip of Emu Export and we’ll tell you a story.

We firmly believe the date on which the British flag was first raised on this continent should continue to be celebrated by taking a day off, dressing in Aussie flag bikinis and thongs, and drinking far too much. Which is why we commemorate every 23 August when James Cook first did this, on behalf of King George III, in 1770.

Wait. What we mean is we honour the founding of the first colony in New South Wales. Which was, as you know, 7 February. Because this is when David Collins read out the instructions which were to establish the permanent British presence on the east coast in 1788.

Wait. What we mean is the first landing by Arthur Phillip at Botany Bay to establish the first convict colony here. Which was 18 January 1788. After a week setting up, unloading equipment and livestock and clearing the ground, Phillip decided he’d made a mistake, forced everyone to put everything back on the ships and set sail for Sydney Cove. Which must have made some people very grumpy.

It was here they landed on the east coast, for the second time, on 26 January 1788. True, Phillip did lots of pomp and ceremony (again), as such an occasion demands, but it had no legal significance until 7 February. In any case, Cook had claimed the whole bloody continent eight years earlier.

And Australia wasn’t even a thing until 1 January 1901, anyway. So really it’s NSW Day at best. Although 1 January is already a holiday, and we’d prefer another day off each year to doubling up the meaning of that one.

Anyway, we propose having four Australia Days: 18 January, 26 January, 7 February, and 23 August. But if we’re only allowed one, 26 January is probably the worst choice, from both a historical and political angle. Still, four sounds good to us.

On fireworks and invasion


Were the original settlers sorry too?

Now that Fremantle has decided to dress up a budget cut in Politically Correct language and claim it is doing everyone a favour, Dodgy Perth needs to ask the question no one else is asking. What on earth did the original white colonists of Western Australia think they were doing?

Firstly, should it be called Australia Day or Invasion Day? Perhaps surprisingly, James Stirling would have agreed with the latter:

Their country has been taken from them by force… No sophistry can conceal the fact that Western Australia is a conquered Nation… We have taken the country from the rightful possessors of the soil, and must abide by the consequences of that first act of aggression…

And some of the earliest colonists agreed with Stirling, claiming they didn’t know they were about to steal land when they turned up here:

Which of us can say that he first made a rational calculation of the rights of the owners of the soil, of the contemplated violation of those rights, of the probable consequences of that violation, or of our justification for such an act?

Yet the colonists did take the land, even though they felt really, really guilty about it. And when people feel guilty about something (with no intention of putting things right) they have to offer a justification to themselves about why it’s okay really. Two defences of invasion were most common: the nice white folk were offering British citizenship to the Aborigines and they were also offered all the advantages of early 19th century technology, like bread and blankets.

However strange it might seem, the traditional owners didn’t seem very grateful for this forced swap of property for becoming subjects of an overseas’ king:

As a boon to the poor Natives for the loss of their land and their hunting and fishing grounds they made them British subjects! The Native says “Of what benefit is that boon of grace to me?”

Nor did the local Aborigines feel that handouts of bread was fair recompense for being evicted from their homeland. In prophetic words, one critic of the invasion said of such trade: “the benefit, if any at all, is only temporary, the injury inflicted is permanent”.

Here in the Dodgy Perth offices, we don’t really care if Fremantle has fireworks or not. But if they think it’s really going to work towards reconciliation and reparation they may as well be handing out bread, blankets, and British citizenship for all the good it will do.

No one cares about ‘Straya Day


Captain Phillips somewhere on the other side of the country

On TV this year, cricket legend Adam Gilchrist encouraged everyone to celebrate Australia Day in their own way. And so he might. After all, it’s never been clear to anyone what the 26th January is actually for.

Sure we all know it represents the founding of New South Wales. But what are we, on the other side of the country, meant to do in response to that?

Some young ladies like to put on small and cheap patriotic bikinis from Red Dot [no objections here from the Dodgy Perth offices], some young men like to drape themselves in the flag, get pissed, and shout “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oi, Oi, Oi!” [many objections]. Most people have a BBQ and listen to JJJ.

What we learn from the past is that they had no idea how to celebrate it either. For starters, they couldn’t even agree on a name. Some states called it Australia Day, others used the term Foundation Day or Anniversary Day. It was only in 1936 the Commonwealth Government ordered everyone to use the words Australia Day. But even this didn’t make it any clearer.

In the 1910s it was a day for kids and the place to be was South Beach. There were pony rides, fruit, swings, toys, swimming and running races, and a greasy pole in the pool. But by the 1930s no one was organising anything except a rowing regatta on the Swan. Which didn’t seem very patriotic to anyone, really.

Enter the Australian Natives Association (ANA). While they might sound as if they had something to do with Aboriginal rights, they couldn’t be further away. The ANA were the leading jingoistic mob, always demanding more be done to keep Australia white and British. There is still an ANA rowing club at Bayswater, but we imagine they’ve dropped their appalling racism by now.

It was pressure from the ANA and a bucket-load of nationalistic speeches from them about celebrating White Australia that forced the government’s hand in 1936 to make the day ‘Australia Day’ for everyone.

But no one cared. Each year the Perth newspapers tried really hard to educate the public about the arrival of Captain Phillip on Sydney Cove and why they should be celebrating this historic event. But no one cared. Even during World War II, when patriotic sentiment was at its height, the City of Perth forgot to put out the national flags on 26th January until the ANA shouted at them.

Australia Day has long been a holiday for Western Australians. And that’s all its ever been. Our only tradition has been to take the day off and enjoy it. We’re not particularly interested in Captain Phillip, just JJJ. And there are no objections here from the Dodgy Perth offices.