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Australia Day – Divided

Again, our nation finds itself at Australia Day. 

Kellehers Australia has for the past decade, remained open on Australia Day in support of Australia’s First Nations’ Peoples. In respect if, Australians description their offence at celebrating the beginnings of a British ‘invasion’ of their Countries.

This year, when vast quantities of scarce taxpayer funds need to go to urgent bushfire rescue projects due to climate change inaction, some $48.7M will also be spent celebrating the 250th anniversary of Captain Cook’s 1st voyage to Australia and the Pacific to include:

  • $5.45M to the 2020 Cooktown Festival: this includes a Recreation Rocks Precinct, its Botanic Gardens, upgrades to a Gamaay Dreaming Track and the Waymburr Milbi project to house artefacts
  • $6.7M to the Australian National Museum for sailing a replica HMS Endeavour to circumnavigate the continent with activities at 39 stops
  • exhibitions through the National Library of Australia
  • support to NSW government for its Kamay Botany Bay National Park MasterPlan; and
  • AIATIS support.

Clearly, Captain Cook did not ‘discover’ Australia. Explorations and mapping of the continent were already established well before his arrival on the south-east coast of the continent (i.e. not at Cooktown). Cook never circumnavigated the continent. Whalers and Islanders from the Pacific and to our north were routine visitors. Even the name Australia first appeared on maps from the 16th century. Cook’s fleeting sails merely added to western knowledge that already existed. Observations by Joseph Banks and James Cook as to the absence of local inhabitants were clearly wrong. This error led directly to the terra nulllius notion that so tragically bedevils Aboriginal People and Australia today. It alone is hardly cause for celebration.

Far far away from Cook’s fleeting touch, a visit then unknown to its Peoples, lies Anungu People, lies Uluru – Australia’s ‘heart’. Kellehers Australia welcomes the closure of the Uluru walking track last year.

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The Park’s 2020-2030 Draft Management Plan is currently under review, with public comment invited[1]. Uluru and Kata Tjuta are living, breathing, cultural landscapes of vast sacred significance.

Australia continues to overlook, downplay and ignore the wisdom of Australia’s First Nations. As we face growing environmental pressures and strain on our environment, we need more than ever to reconcile ourselves with Australia’s true and deep history. We must learn the lessons of the past, and listen and learn from our Elders to protect our beautiful land.


[1] http://www.environment.gov.au/consultation/uluru-kata-tjuta-draft-management-plan

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