Australia Day is a celebration on January 26 of all things relating to the Land Down Under. We join the 26,000,000 Australians in celebrating the anniversary of the country’s 1788 founding. Australia is widely regarded as a desirable place to live and a popular tourist destination. There is much to discover and appreciate about the world’s oldest, driest, and flattest inhabited continent. So, continue reading for a fun history lesson and cool ideas for celebrating Australia Day!
HISTORY OF AUSTRALIA DAY
Australia’s national day is celebrated annually on January 26 to commemorate the arrival of British ships in 1788, which led to the establishment of the first European settlement in Australia. These eleven ships transported over 750 criminals, who had been tried and convicted in Great Britain for mostly minor offences, to British-established penal colonies in North America and the Pacific, among others. Additional 300 military and medical personnel travelled to Australia and helped establish the new colony.
1818 marked the first commemoration of British sovereignty over the eastern coast of Australia. Throughout the years, the date of this historic event has also been referred to as “Anniversary Day,” “Foundation Day,” and “Australian Natives’ Association” (ANA) Day. In 1935, all Australian states and territories adopted “Australia Day” as the day’s name, and in 1994, January 26 became an official public holiday.
Australia Day, which serves as a day of national unity and the country’s largest annual civic event, is filled with numerous community and family traditions, the presentation of national awards, and the welcoming of new Australian citizens. However, not all Australians share the same sentiments regarding the day.
Indigenous Australians have historically referred to this date as “Invasion Day” or “National Day of Mourning” in opposition to the arrival of British peoples. There are still those who observe counter-celebrations, and the holiday has sparked a contentious discussion. In 1938, William Cooper, a member of the Aboriginal Progressive Association, referred to the annual reenactment of Phillip’s landing as a “Day of Mourning”
On Australia Day, numerous Aboriginal people mourn their ancestors who perished and suffered during colonisation. Now, the day is also imbued with a profound appreciation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. There are also protests to change the date of Australia Day to honour Indigenous Australians. The Australian government has acknowledged the traditional owners of the land on which Australia Day is celebrated in the hope that Australians of all backgrounds will unite to celebrate Australia as a multicultural society.
5 FUN AUSTRALIA DAY TRADITIONS
- Brisbane’s cockroach race series is one of the most distinctive Australia Day celebrations.
- Over seventy-five percent of Australians believe Australia Day is a time to recognise and celebrate the rich cultural diversity of the country.
- On Australia Day, many individuals wear green and gold. In 1984, the combination became Australia’s official national colours.
- Australia Day is incomplete without vegemite! The popular dark brown yeast spread sells approximately 22 million jars annually, making it a national staple.
- “Advance Australia Fair” was written in 1878 and adopted as the national anthem in 1984. It is sung on Australia Day to express national pride.
AUSTRALIA DAY DATES