Australia Travel Stories

Featured Australia Story | The First Australia Day: An Inmate's Beach Party

The wildest independence day in history.
Aussies may celebrate the foundation of their country every January 26th with sophisticated fireworks displays and picnics, but the actual event was an more dubious and chaotic affair. On that day in 1788, some 700 shady characters from Britain's most miserable slums were offloaded from eleven reeking transport ships – today honored as the "the First Fleet" – onto the shores of Sydney Cove. Unlike other new immigrant societies, the pioneer settlers of Australia happened to be petty criminals and their guards, and they had been sent to a virtually unknown land: the east coast of Australia had only been visited by a single European explorer beforehand, Captain James Cook, in 1770.
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