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Australia Day becoming more inclusive but still the wrong date

1 September is an alternative date worth considering for Australia Day celebrations. This is also National Wattle Day, a springtime celebration that offers a rich history and meaning for all Australians. National days say something about the identity and values of the people who celebrate them. This year the government–owned National Australia Day Council (NADC) gives the following description:

‘On Australia Day, we reflect on our history, its highs and its lows.

We respect the stories of others.

And we celebrate our nation, its achievements and most of all, its people.’

Australia Day is the latest of four names used for the anniversary of 26 January 1788. During the 1800s it was called First Landing Day, Foundation Day and Anniversary Day, arguably all accurate descriptions. Celebration of a nation – that is something different. Australia became a nation in 1901 on 1 January – another date for consideration if we are in good shape after New Year’s Eve celebrations.

On 26 January 1788, when the British raised their Union Jack to mark the occupation of New South Wales, everything in Australia, even the soil, was to change. But upon reflection, is this date, although obviously significant, the best date for a national day of celebration clearly aimed to include all Australians? Does this date for an Australia Day show respect for the stories of indigenous Australians for example? Have we been listening?

A date for celebration is more than a matter of firsts. Otherwise we might be celebrating the arrival in March 1606 of Willem Janszoon in New Holland, as Australia was then known. That was the first of many visits by Dutch explorers such as Dirk Hartog and Abel Tasman before Captain Cook sailed into Botany Bay 164 years later on 29 April 1770. Or we might be celebrating 22 August 1770 when Cook claimed the eastern portion of the Australian continent for the British Crown on 22 August 1770, naming it New South Wales.

William Macleod 1888 'Natives opposing Captain Cook's arrival

 

 

Titled 'Natives opposing Captain Cook's landing' this image by William Macleod is based on Cook's journal entry for the 29 April 1770 and depicts two Gweagal men standing on a rocky outcrop on Dharawal Country holding spears. There are two small row boats approaching with HMB ENDEAVOUR in the distance.
It was published in 1888
Picturesque Atlas Publishing Company, Sydney; http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-145314525


Why resist a change of date for Australia Day? Dates, names and relevance of national days have changed again and again. For example, we no longer celebrate Empire Day on Queen Victoria’s birthday on 24 May. Empire Day, honouring the British Empire, was first celebrated in Australia in 1905, four years after Queen Victoria died (22 January 1901). The name was changed to (British) Commonwealth Day in 1958 following the decolonisation of the British Empire after the London Declaration in 1949. The date on 24 May was later changed to the ‘official’ date for Queen Elizabeth II birthday (the second Monday of June) in 1966 – although she was born on 21 April.

Wattle Day, celebrated in various states and territories since 1910 at different times between August and September when the wattles were at their blooming best has grown in popularity over the last decade. This grass roots resurgence of interest was facilitated in 1992 by the Governor-General’s proclamation that made National Wattle Day a national day, across all states and territories on the same day - 1 September – every year. Twenty-seven years later, the current Governor-General of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley said, ‘Wattle Day is all about appreciating wattle and celebrating what it is, and means, to be Australian. It is a day to appreciate how fortunate we are. A day to remember that we are strongest and at our best when we look out for our neighbours and when we respect and care for each other’.

From a practical point of view, 1 September happens to be a very good time of year for a national public holiday because there are no others between July and November and it wouldn’t clash with any state or territory wide celebration (Tammy Solonec 2014).

National Wattle Day continues to offer a unifying way forward for all Australians as a national celebration of what it means to be Australian and to live in this extraordinary land, irrespective of whether Australia Day continues on 26 January.

Suzette Searle

President
Wattle Day Association Inc.
(founded in 1998)

Entire article can be downloaded here.

 

OUR HEALTH WORKERS WIN 'GOLDEN WATTLE AWARD'

The 2020 Golden Wattle Award winners are Australia’s health and medical professionals and allied workers, who have been at the front line of the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and who, day after day, have put their own lives at risk to keep the Australian community healthy and safe.
This award is in recognition of their expertise and skill, their dedication and commitment and their unselfish demonstration of the very best of care and compassion for their fellow Australians.


Previous Golden Wattle Award winners since 2011 include tennis great Ashleigh Barty and Dylan Alcott (2019), Craig Challen and Richard Harris, underwater rescuers of the young Thai soccer (2018) and Samuel Johnson and his sister (2017).

Adrian's resilient wattle

This photo is testament to the resilience of wattle that survives, and thrives, even in the most difficult of situations.
Photo: Courtesy of Adrian (North Canberra)

Celebrate Australia's National Wattle Day on 1 September 

Golden Wattle (A. pycnantha) SD Searle

The first celebration of wattle day in more than one state on the same day took place, on 1 September in 1910 in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

And then with the First World War (1914-1918) and the desire to sell wattle sprigs to raise money for the troops overseas and later for maimed soldiers and women and children's charities, the date was changed to 1 August in NSW and other dates elsewhere to co-incide with the best flowering of their local wattles from July (Qld) to late September (South Australia).

In 1992 as a unifying gesture for this particular celebration, the first day of spring - 1 September - was proclaimed by the Governor-General, Sir Ninian Stephen, to be Australia's National Wattle Day for everyone across Australia to celebrate at the same time.
This has yet to be celebrated as a national holiday.

Wattles have long had special meanings for Australians and in 1988 the Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha) was officially gazetted as Australia's national floral emblem.

Want to know more about why we celebrate National Wattle Day?

How can you celebrate National Wattle Day?

  • WEAR a sprig of wattle or the uplifting colour of yellow
  • GREET each other with 'Happy Wattle Day'
  • GO for a walk to enjoy wattles in flower around your garden, suburb, nearby bush or arboretum
  • ORGANISE a picnic, lunch, morning/afternoon tea, BBQ or dinner for your family & friends
  • or SING a wattle song with the children in your life.
    'The Wattle Blooms' was composed and performed for the celebration of National Wattle Day by Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley (pictured below).


 

The lyrics, recording and melody score for 'The Wattle Blooms' and other wattle songs can be found on our 'For Schools' pages.

 

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You are here: Home / About Wattle Day / Golden Wattle Award / Previous winners

Previous winners

 2019 Golden Wattle Award winners - Ash Barty and Dylan Alcott

Ashleigh Barty and Dylan Alcott are joint winners of the 2019 Golden Wattle Award. Ash Barty won the 2019 French Open and became the world’s No. 1 women’s tennis player and Dylan Alcott won the inaugural 2019 Wimbledon Quad Wheelchair Singles title, having earlier won the French and Australian open titles.

Ash Barty wins French open June 2019Dylan Alcott wins Wimbledon quad wheelchair singles final
Ash Barty
Credit
Julien De Rosa/EPA, via Shutterstock
Dylan Alcott
Credit Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP

While both are top tennis players, it is not just their efforts on the tennis court that have won them the coveted Golden Wattle Award. Both Ash and Dylan have displayed great dignity and grace in the way they have handled the attention and fame that comes with their on-court success. Their manner, on and off the court, has won praise around the world and brought great credit to them and Australia. Their demeanour and approach has been both gracious and generous. Ash Barty is a role model for all young Australians, and an inspiration to other young indigenous players. Dylan Alcott has shown amazing resilience and determination in his lifetime effort to overcome his disability and win acceptance in the broader community. Both brought Gold to Australia, the key criteria for the Golden Wattle Award.

2018 Golden Wattle Award winners - Craig Challen & Richard Harris

Craig Challen and Richard Harris, underwater rescuers of the young Thai soccer team, are joint winners of the 2018 Golden Wattle Award.

The contributions of each to the safe rescue of the boys, against all the odds and in the face of great danger, were outstanding examples of Australian skill, commitment and sheer bravery. As the whole world watched and hoped, Richard Harris and Craig Challen went about their task with a cool professionalism that won admiration and appreciation of people around the world. In doing so they brought enormous credit on themselves and Australia.

They brought Gold to Australia, the key criteria for the Golden Wattle Award.

The Golden Wattle Award is conferred each year, at the time of National Wattle Day (1 September), by the Wattle Day Association to recognise a person(s) who has brought Gold to Australia through their actions or achievements.

While Craig and Richard are unassuming heroes, their generosity and bravery as part of an inspiring international co-operation, marked them as outstanding Australians.

The Golden Wattle Award is an honorary one, there being no physical prize or monetary component. It does, however, endow the winners with honourable recognition of their work or actions as being noble and expressing the best of the Australian spirit.

Last year the Golden Wattle Award was won by Samuel Johnson and his sister Connie who
subsequently died of cancer. Previous recipients of this award have included Nobel Prize winner
Professor Brian Schmidt, Mick Fanning and colleague Julian Wilson, and Tour de France winner
Cadel Evans.

Richard Harris (left) and Craig Challen (right) 2018

Richard Harris (left) and Craig Challen (right) underwater rescuers of the young Thai soccer team, are joint winners of the 2018 Golden Wattle Award. Photo: Courtesy of Newsmail

 

2017 Golden Wattle Award winners - Samuel and Connie Johnson

Gold Logie winner, Samuel Johnson and his sister, Connie, are joint winners of the 2017 Golden Wattle Award.
The award is conferred each year, around the time of National Wattle Day (1 September), by the Wattle Day Association to recognise a person(s) who has brought Gold to Australia through their actions or achievements.

The 2017 Golden Wattle Award recognises and honours the wonderful bond between Connie and her brother Samuel and their journey together with Connie’s illness. Their love and care for each other has been a model for all Australians and the way they have shared their fight against Connie’s cancer with the Australian community, raising millions of dollars for research through their Love your Sister organisation, has been extremely generous and inspirational. Their responses, when faced with great personal and family sadness and trauma, have touched the hearts of the Australian people and wonderfully expressed the spirit of the nation. Connie and Samuel Johnson are worthy winners of this year’s Golden Wattle Award.

The award is an honorary one, there being no physical prize or monetary component. It does, however, endow the winners with honourable recognition of their work or actions as being noble and expressing the best of the Australian spirit.

For more about Samuel and Connie Johnson and their Love your Sister organisation

Courtesy of the Instagram and The New Daily

 Photo: Courtesy of Instagram and The New Daily

2016 Golden Wattle Award winners - Michelle and Steve Payne

Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne and her champion strapper brother, Steve, are joint winners of the 2016 Golden Wattle Award,

The 2016 Golden Wattle Award recognises and honours the shared achievement of Michelle and Steve in winning the 2015 Melbourne Cup. Their spontaneous responses to their against-the-odds victory touched the hearts of the Australian people and caught the spirit of the nation. Truly they gave us a golden moment and are appropriate winners of this year’s Golden Wattle Award.

 

Stephie & Michelle Payne 3 Nov 2015

Steve & Michelle Payne 3 Nov 2015

Photo: Posted 3 Nov 2015, 3:36pm
Michelle Payne and brother, Stephie, after winning the The Emirates Melbourne Cup on Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington Racecourse on November 3, 2015 in Melbourne.
Getty Images: Robert Cianflone

 

2015 Golden Wattle Award winners - Mick Fanning and Julian Wilson 

Surfers Mick Fanning and Julian Wilson are joint winners of the 2015 Golden Wattle Award. The award is conferred around the time of National Wattle Day (1 September) each year by the Wattle Day Association to recognise a person who has brought Gold to Australia through their actions or achievements. In the case of Julian and Mick, the award recognises and honours their courage, mateship and fortitude in their responses to the recent shark attack at Jeffreys Bay in South Africa on 20 July 2015.

 

Julian Wilson (in red) hugs Mick Fanning

 

Julian Wilson (in red) hugs Mick Fanning, who was attacked by a shark
during the final of the J-Bay Open at on 20 July 2015. Photo: World Surf League/Kirstin Scholtz

The award is an honorary one, there being no physical prize or monetary component. It does, however, endow the winners with honourable recognition of their work or actions as being noble and expressing the best of the Australian spirit. 

Previous recipients of this award have included VC winner Ben Roberts-Smith (2014), Mel Irons a Tasmanian student and community activist (2013), Nobel Prize winner Professor Brian Schmidt (2012) and Tour De France Winner Cadell Evans (2011).

 

2014 Golden Wattle Award winner - VC winner Ben Roberts-Smith

VC winner Ben Roberts-Smith is the 2014 recipient of the Golden Wattle Award.

President of the Wattle Day Association, Terry Fewtrell, says that “Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith is an outstanding young Australian who has brought honour to our nation, not just by his efforts on the battlefield, but also in the work that he has done since in support of the White Cloud Foundation to help increase resources and improve access to support for people, families and carers who live with depression in Australia. He is a very worthy winner of the Golden Wattle Award”.

Ben Roberts-Smith

Melissa Irons, Community Activist from Tasmania

2013 Golden Wattle Award Winner

Mel was recognised for her ground breaking work using social media to co-ordinate vital assistance and pass on vital information during the fires and the recovery period on the Tasman Peninsula in January 2013.

Melissa irons

 

Professor Brian P. Schmidt
2012 Golden Wattle Award Winner

In accepting this honorary award, Brian Schmidt said, "I hope that I can continue to use the notoriety of the Nobel Prize to remind Australians how important Science and Education  is for our country's future prosperity - you never know what you might achieve if you have patience and persistence with the backing of a good education".

Brian Schmidt

 Photo: Courtesy of The Australian National University

 

Cadel Evans

2011 Golden Wattle Award Winner

In 2011 Cadel Evans, winner of the Tour de France that year, became the first winner of the Golden Wattle Award.

As cyclist Cadel Evans rode toward his ‘Cadelebration’ in Federation Square at Melbourne following his success in Le Tour de France 2011, he carried a small bunch of wattle on his handlebars. Photography by Mal Fairclough

 Photography by Mal Fairclough

As cyclist Cadel Evans rode toward his ‘Cadelebration’ in Federation Square at Melbourne following his success in Le Tour de France 2011, he carried a small bunch of wattle on his handlebars.