The King’s Birthday, Sydney Cove, 1788

The Queen’s Birthday is a public holiday in all jurisdictions of Australia. In most, it is on the second Monday in June, a holdover from King George V, whose birthday was on 3 June. By coincidence, the birthday of King George III, the monarch at the time of the British settlement/colonisation/invasion of Australia, was on 4 June. In An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales (the most comprehensive of the First Fleet and early colonial accounts), David Collins, the Judge-Advocate and Colonial Secretary, wrote:

From His Majesty’s birthday was kept with every attention that it was possible to distinguish it by in this country; the morning was ushered in by the discharge of twenty-one guns from the Sirius and Supply; on shore the colours were hoisted at the flag-staff, and at noon the detachment of marines fired three volleys; after which the officers of the civil and military establishment waited upon the governor, and paid their respects to his excellency in honor of the day. At one o’clock the ships of war again fired twenty-one guns each; and the transports in the cove made up the same number between them, according to their irregular method on those occasions. The officers of the navy and settlement were entertained by the governor at dinner … At sunset the ships of war paid their last compliment to his Majesty by a third time firing twenty-one guns each. At night several bonfires were lighted; and, by an allowance of spirits given on this particular occasion, every person in the colony was enabled to drink his Majesty’s health.

Some of the worst among the convicts availed themselves of the opportunity that was given them in the evening, by the absence of several of the officers and people from their tents and huts, to commit depredations. One officer on going to his tent found a man in it, whom with some difficulty he secured, after wounding him with his sword. The tent of another was broken into, and several articles of wearing apparel stolen out of it; and many smaller thefts of provisions and clothing were committed among the convicts. Several people were taken into custody, and two were afterwards tried and executed. One of these had absconded, and lived in the woods for nineteen days, existing by what he was able to procure by nocturnal depredations among the huts and stock of individuals. His visits for this purpose were so frequent and daring, that it became absolutely necessary to proclaim him an outlaw, as well as to declare that no person must harbour him after such proclamation.


When is the Queen’s birthday not the Queen’s Birthday?

Last week I told my students that today was a public holiday. One student said ‘Is it Queen Elizabeth’s birthday?’. I said ‘No, it the Queen’s Birthday’. Queen Elizabeth’s birthday is 21 April. The Queen’s Birthday is today. The June date (the second Monday in June) is a holdover from George V, whose birthday was 3 June. The short-reigned Edward VIII’s birthday was 23 June, but George IV’s was 14 December (too close to Christmas/New Year and Elizabeth II’s is too close to Easter and Anzac Day (25 April). (If George V’s birthday was 3 June, why didn’t they settle on the first Monday in June?)

In Australia, there is very little, if any, official commemoration of the day. (It’s not even celebrated on the same day in each state.) Previously, awards in the Imperial honours systems (for example, MBE, OBE, KBE) were announced on the Queen’s Birthday. Apparently, awards in the Order of Australia still are; if so, it is a much smaller event that the announcement on Australia Day.

In New South Wales, all but one of the public holidays  fall in a span of less than six months, between 25 December and the second Monday in June. After this, we have only Labour Day (the first Monday in October).

We built this city

I can’t remember when I bought this puzzle. The last building on the chart dates from 2007, so it’s obviously after then (indeed after 2009, when I returned from Korea). It has three components – a standard cardboard jigsaw of the land (with buildings as at some unspecified earlier time) and water, a foam jigsaw of the land (with buildings generally as at 2007) and plastic buildings which slot into the foam layer. Some details are worrying (like the cricket ground and football stadium being there, and buildings across streets) and some have been superseded (the Entertainment Centre/Convention Centre area (now and Barangaroo). (The manufacturers are 4D Cityscapes Inc, in Markham, Ontario.)

I have done this with my students several times. The foam layer is easier (because it covers less area and has larger pieces) and more interesting. The cardboard layer is much harder. We did this in the last class of last year, and completed about 3/4 of it. Getting it home was a challenge, but I set it up on the dining room table and continued occasionally for almost two months.

I finished yesterday. This person finished quicker, and included stirring music.

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Australian Day

One of my colleagues (from a non-Australian background) referred to ‘Australian Day’. Why does that sound so wrong?

Mentally scouting through the world public holidays I know, overwhelmingly most of them are N, N day, Ns day, (the) N’s (birth)day, (the) Ns’ day. Offhand, I can’t think of any holiday which uses an adjective. If Bhutan has a public holiday for it, they would call it Happiness Day, and not Happy Day.



Public holidays

Last Thursday, South Koreans had a public holiday for Children’s Day. Only the week before, the government decreed an extra holiday on the Friday, so many of my colleagues travelled near or far (one as far as Japan). I travelled near, to a neighboring province, to visit someone I knew from my first time here (who showed me more of the local sights than a solo foreign tourist would ever have managed).

Before I left, I mentioned on Facebook that it was a public holiday and that I was travelling. One of my sisters commented that South Korea seems to have more public holidays than Australia. After checking, I found that that is indeed the case, but there are complications on both sides.

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