Australian Holidays and celebrations
When is Australia Day?
Australia Day a public holiday on 26 January and is Australia's national day.
It marks the arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales on that date in 1788, and the raising of the Flag of Great Britain by Captain Arthur Phillip.
If 26 January falls on a weekend, then a public holiday will be observed on the following Monday.
History of the holiday
Captain Arthur Phillip became the first Governor of the colony of New South Wales and the fledging colony soon began to celebrate the anniversary of this date.
During the early nineteenth century the anniversary was called 'Foundation Day' and was marked by sporting events. In the 1820s, Horseracing was popular but by the 1830s regattas had became popular.
Fifty years after Phillip landed, Australia's first public holiday was announced to celebrate Foundation Day 1838. The inaugural holiday became an annual event and has continued to be held on or around January 26.
By 1888, all the colonial capitals, except Adelaide, proclaimed 'Anniversary Day' a public holiday and celebrations took place throughout the individual colonies.
The 150th anniversary of white settlement in 1938 was marked with official ceremonies around the nation celebrating the arrival of Captain Phillip.
In 1946, the Commonwealth Government, States and Territories agreed that there should be one national day 'Australia Day' under one banner and on the same day.
However, the Australia Day public holiday was still held on the Monday closest to January 26th.
In the bi-centenary year, 1988, Australia Day was held around the nation on January 26th. The highlight of the many celebrations was a re-enactment of the First Fleet's trip which departed from Portsmouth on May 13, 1987 and arrived in Australia in early January.