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Camilla attends Australia Day celebrations

The Duchess of Cornwall attended a reception celebrating Australia’s ‘People, Produce and Place’ to mark Australia Day at The Violin Factory in London on Monday.

During her visit, The Duchess watched an Australian cooking demonstration and viewed a display of Australian produce and wine.

Joining Camilla on Monday were a group of celebrated chefs, including Australian Master Chef runner-up 2013, Lynton Tapp.

During the event Camilla sampled selections of Australian wines and meet with Australian food producers to learn more about Australia’s food innovation and sustainability.

26 January is the official national day of Australia. Australia Day celebrates the founding of the first European settlement at Port Jackson, now part of Sydney, in Australia, in 1788.

On 26 January 1788, the First Fleet of 11 ships from Great Britain, led by Captain Arthur Philip, arrived at Port Jackson, which is now present day Sydney Harbour. Captain Philip established the Colony of New South Wales, the first penal colony in Australia. By 1808 the 26th of January began being commemorated as “First Landing Day” or “Foundation Day.”

In 1818, the Governor of Australia ordered a 30-gun salute, held a dinner ball at Government House and gave government employees a holiday. Soon after, employees of banks and other organisations were also afforded holidays.

In 1838, Foundation Day was Australia’s first public holiday. It was also the first public celebration of the founding of Australia. By 1888, 26 January had become identified as ‘Anniversary Day’ with commemorations in all colonies except Adelaide.

Commemorations in 1888 celebrated the centenary of the arrival of the First Fleet with services, exhibitions, banquets, regattas, fireworks and the unveiling of a statue of Queen Victoria.

Australia Day became known by 1935 all states excluding New South Wales, where it was still called Anniversary Day. In 1938, large-scale celebrations were held. By 1946, it was known as Australia Day in all states. The public holiday was then moved to the Monday closest to 26 January to allow for a long weekend.

Since 1994, the Australia Day public holiday has occurred on January 26 in all states and territories.

The anniversary of the first permanent European colony in Australia is not a reason for commemoration for all citizens. Indigenous Australians often think that the festivities on Australia Day disregard them and their culture, which was flourishing for thousands of years before the arrival of the First Fleet.

In November 2012 The Duchess of Cornwall joined Prince Charles on a visit to Australia commemorating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Featured photo credit: UK in Sweden via Photopin cc

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