The Jan. 26 public holiday marks the date the British fleet sailed into Sydney Harbour in 1788 to start a penal colony, viewing the land as unoccupied despite encountering settlements.
While the Australian Day remains contentious, this week’s poll by the market research company Roy Morgan showed nearly two-thirds of Australians say that Jan. 26 should be considered “Australia Day”. The rest say it should be “Invasion Day.”
Australia, a commonwealth of the United Kingdom, is the only continent that is also a country and an island. The country is located in the Pacific Ocean, south of Asia. It is situated entirely in the Southern Hemisphere.
Because of Australia’s location in the Southern Hemisphere, its seasons are the opposite of those in North America. When it’s summer in the U.S., it’s winter in Australia. Lots of Australians enjoying spending Christmas Day at the beach!
Most of the country’s interior is a vast desert region known as the “Outback.” It is home to many of Australia’s indigenous people, the Aborigine. These native Australians make up only 2% of the current population. They live throughout the continent, but the majority live in the Outback where these hardy people have learned to adapt to the harsh desert conditions.
Two of the country’s most famous landmarks include the Sydney Opera House and Ayer’s Rock, also known as Uluru. Uluru is a natural sandstone monolith (a single, massive stone) that is sacred to Aborigines.
Australia is home to many unique animals not found anywhere else in the world, such as the kangaroo and wallaby – both marsupials – the duck-billed platypus and the koala bear.
Wishing everyone a Happy Australia Day!
Australia Vocabulary Quiz
Students can begin learning about the Land Down Under with this vocabulary sheet. They should use an atlas, the Internet, or a resource book to look up each term and determine how it relates to Australia.
Take the quiz!