YDB Guide to Australia Day

Holidays celebrated in Australia


Australia Day is on January 26 and commemorates the establishment of the first European settlement at Port Jackson, now part of Sydney, in 1788.

Young girl holding the Australian flag. Celebrate Australia on Australia Day.Celebrate Australia on Australia

What Do People Do?

Many people have a day off work and use the day among other things to barbecue, go to outdoor concerts, and to play or watch sports events.

Different places in Australia celebrate the day differently. For example, Sydney has boat races including a ferry race and the tall ships race, while Adelaide celebrates with a parade, concert, fireworks, and a cricket match.

Australian citizenship ceremonies are often held on Australia Day. These are ceremonies to welcome immigrants who have been granted citizenship to the country. Although official, these ceremonies often have a festive atmosphere.

Public Life

Australia Day is a public holiday in all states and territories. All schools and post offices are closed. Some public transport services do not operate, and others run a reduced service. Stores are often open, but may have reduced opening hours. There may be some congestion on roads, particularly close to major events.

Background

January 26 marks the landing of Captain Arthur Phillip at Port Jackson in 1788. The landing is known as the First Fleet and had 11 ships with convicts. The arrival of the First Fleet represents the founding of the colony New South Wales.

In 1818, on the 30th anniversary of the founding of the colony, the Governor of New South Wales gave all government employees a holiday. He also celebrated the day with a 30-gun salute and a ball. In the following years, employees of banks and other organizations were also given holidays.

Initially, it was only New South Wales that celebrated the day, and it was known as First Landing Day or Foundation Day. In 1838, 50 years after the First Fleet arrived, Foundation Day was declared Australia's first public holiday in New South Wales.

By 1935, January 26 was known as Australia Day in all states except New South Wales, where it was still called Anniversary Day. From 1946, January 26 was called Australia Day in all states and territories, and since 1994, the Australia Day public holiday has been on January 26 throughout the country.

Because it marks the day of colonization, Aboriginal Australians often feel that the celebrations on Australia Day exclude them. The day has been renamed Invasion Day, and protests do appear side-by-side the celebrations.

In recent years, efforts have been made to make the holiday include all Australians, and in 2013, the Australian flag and Aboriginal flag were raised on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the first time on Australia Day.

Symbols

The symbols of Australia are commonly used on Australia Day: The Australian national flag, with its representations of the Union Jack, the Commonwealth Star, and the five stars of the Southern Cross. The national anthem, Advance Australia Fair, is played, but also Australia’s unofficial anthem, Waltzing Matilda, is a common song to be heard.

Other symbols include the Golden Wattle, which is the national floral emblem, the opal, which is the national gemstone, and the national colors of green and gold.

Australia Day Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday Type Where It is Observed Tue Jan 26 2010 Australia Day National Holiday Wed Jan 26 2011 Australia Day National Holiday Thu Jan 26 2012 Australia Day National Holiday Sat Jan 26 2013 Australia Day National Holiday Mon Jan 28 2013 Australia Day observed National Holiday Sun Jan 26 2014 Australia Day National Holiday Mon Jan 27 2014 Australia Day observed National Holiday Mon Jan 26 2015 Australia Day National Holiday Tue Jan 26 2016 Australia Day National Holiday Thu Jan 26 2017 Australia Day National Holiday Fri Jan 26 2018 Australia Day National Holiday Sat Jan 26 2019 Australia Day National Holiday Mon Jan 28 2019 Australia Day observed National Holiday Sun Jan 26 2020 Australia Day National Holiday Mon Jan 27 2020 Australia Day observed


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