There are two sides of the story of what January 26th really marks for Australians. It’s a hard truth but it’s important.

Explore the Timeline

60,000 BCE

Humans reach Australia making Indigenous Australians custodians of the world’s oldest living culture.

Illustration of a tall ship

Fact #1

January 26 isn’t when Captain Cook landed - and it’s not when Australia began.


More than 500 Indigenous groups inhabit the Australian continent - about 750,000 people.


Captain Cook declares Australia terra nullius - nobody’s land.


The First Fleet anchors in Sydney Cove on January 26.

Illustration an indigenous man

Fact #2

On January 26 we’re not celebrating a peaceful process of colonisation.


The Indigenous population is diminishing: mass shootings, people driven off cliffs, food laced with arsenic, frontier wars and the introduction of disease.


Melbourne newspaper publishes: “In less than twenty years we have nearly swept [Indigenous people] off the face of the earth.”


It’s estimated the Indigenous population has been reduced by 90%.

Illustration of a scroll

Fact #3

The Australian Constitution deliberately excludes Indigenous people.


Australia officially becomes its own nation. Parliament introduces the White Australia policy.


Indigenous people are referenced twice in the Constitution: to state they won’t be counted in the census and that they need “special laws”.


Many Indigenous children are being forcibly taken from their families.

Illustration of a raised fist

Fact #4

Indigenous people have protested January 26 celebrations since the 1930s.


The Australian Natives Association (white Australian men) campaigns to make the Monday closest to January 26 a public holiday for Australia Day.


A ‘Day of Mourning and Protest’ is organised as Sydney celebrates 150 years of colonisation.

Illustration of an Aboriginal Flag

Fact #5

Protests about January 26 were part of a wider Australian civil rights movement


Student Action for Aborigines (SAFA) organises a bus tour of outback NSW, uncovering racism in rural communities.


90% of Australians vote “Yes” to amend two parts of the Constitution that exclude Indigenous people.


The Aboriginal Tent Embassy is established on the lawns of Parliament House.

Illustration of the Australian flag

Fact #6

Our national symbols aren’t old - and they don’t embrace Indigenous culture.


The Aboriginal flag becomes widely adopted.


Australians cease to be British Subjects. Advance Australia Fair replaces God Save the Queen.


40,000 Australians march the streets of Sydney on January 26 to celebrate the survival of Indigenous people and culture.


January 26 is officially made a national public holiday.

Illustration of black and white shaking hands

Fact #7

Deciding what to do about January 26 is complicated - but it’s possible if we do it together.

26 Jan 2017

Certain local councils try to change the date of their citizenship ceremonies.

They are forced by the government to change them back. Some are even stripped of their rights to hold citizenship ceremonies.

Record numbers of people attend Invasion and Survival Day protests around the country.