Western Australia Day

Western Australia Day (formerly known as Foundation Day) is a public holiday in Western Australia, celebrated on the first Monday in June each year to commemorate the founding of the Swan River Colony in 1829. Because of the celebration of Western Australia Day, WA does not celebrate the Queen’s Birthday Holiday in June, as do the other Australian states; it is held in September or October instead.

HMS Challenger, under Captain Charles Fremantle, anchored off Garden Island on 25 April 1829. Fremantle officially claimed the western part of Australia for Britain on 2 May. The merchant vessel Parmelia – with the new colony’s administrator Lieutenant-Governor James Stirling, other officials, and civilian settlers on board – arrived on the night of 31 May and sighted the coast on 1 June. It finally anchored in Cockburn Sound on 6 June. The warship HMS Sulphur arrived on 6 June, carrying the British Army garrison. The Swan River Colony was officially proclaimed by Stirling on 11 June. Ships carrying more civilian settlers began arriving in August, and on the King’s birthday, 12 August, the wife of the captain of Sulphur, Mrs Helena Dance, standing in for Mrs Ellen Stirling, cut down a tree to mark the founding of the colony’s capital, Perth.

In 1832, Stirling decided that an annual celebration was needed to unite the colony’s inhabitants, including both settlers and Aborigines and “masters and servants”. He decided that the commemoration would be held on 1 June each year (or if a Sunday, on the following Monday), the date originally planned by Stirling for Parmelia’s arrival in recognition of the first and greatest British naval victory over the French in 1794, the “Glorious First of June”. Up until 2011 The holiday was celebrated as Foundation Day Then in 2012 it was renamed Western Australia Day as part of a series of law changes recognising Aboriginal Australians as the original inhabitants of Western Australia.

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