Australia Day, observed on January 26th each year, is the country’s national holiday. The day commemorates the arrival of the British First Fleet in New South Wales at Port Jackson in 1788. That day, Governor Arthur Philip raised the British flag at Port Jackson. The arrival of the British signaled the establishment of British sovereignty over Australia’s eastern seaboard. January 26th has been dubbed Invasion Day, Anniversary Day, and Foundation Day by some. Australia Day did not become the standard name for January 26th until 1946. Every year, Australia Day is the largest civic event in Australia.
Interesting facts about Australia Day:
The First Fleet (with approximately 1000 people aboard 11 ships) arrived from Britain in 1788, carrying approximately 700 British prisoners. After they arrived, a penal colony was established.
On the 30th anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet, the Governor of Australia held a 30-gun salute and ball at Government House. This was the start of it becoming a work holiday for bank employees and others from various organizations.
For the first 100 years, the arrival of the First Fleet was only commemorated in New South Wales. Other colonies celebrated their own anniversary dates in other parts of Australia where they had settled.
Adelaide was the only colony that did not observe Anniversary Day on January 26th by 1888.
By 1935, all Australian states had declared January 26th to be Anniversary Day, and it wasn’t until 1946 that it was renamed Australia Day.
Because Australia Day is a national public holiday, most Australians take the day off work.
Picnics, beach parties, barbecues, fireworks displays, music festivals, sporting competitions, award ceremonies, and family gatherings are all popular activities in Australia.
In Australia, January is summer, so the weather is ideal for outdoor celebrations.
On Australia Day, many people fly the Australian National Flag, the Torres Strait Islander Flag, or the Aboriginal Flag.
The City of Perth Skyworks is Australia’s largest Australia Day event. Approximately 500,000 people attend this fireworks display. The fireworks are launched from moving boats, bridges, and skyscrapers over Perth’s Swan River, making it one of the most spectacular fireworks displays in the country each year.
According to estimates, approximately 10.5 million of Australia’s 21 million citizens celebrate Australia Day.
Australia celebrated its Bicentennial in 1988. More than 2.5 million people are estimated to have gathered in Sydney to celebrate.
Australia Day is a popular day for people to apply to become Australian citizens. On January 26th, 2011, approximately 13,000 people became Australian citizens.
Indigenous Australians are less enthusiastic about Australia Day and its associated celebrations and significance. To this population, it represents the British invasion of their country, which has led to the day being dubbed “Invasion Day” by many.
Since 1960, the Australian of the Year award has been presented on that day. Previous winners include cricketer Steve Waugh, painter Arthur Boyd, and actor Geoffrey Rush.