Australia Day

What is Australia Day?

The tradition of having Australia Day as a national holiday on 26 January is a recent one. Not until 1935 did all the Australian states and territories use that name to mark that date. Not until 1994 did they begin to celebrate Australia Day consistently as a public holiday on that date.


How we celebrate Australia Day?

On Australia Day, over half of the nation’s population of 21 million attend either an organised community event, or get together with family and friends with the intention of celebrating our national day. Many more spend the public holiday relaxing with family and friends.

Many people have a day off work and use the day to picnic in a park, to go shopping or to play or to watch sports events. In some places, particularly Lake Burley Griffin, spectacular public fireworks displays are held. In addition, the Australian of the Year Awards are presented. These are awards for Australians who have made an outstanding contribution to their country or community.

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

Australia Day Gallery

Historical Background

The tradition of noticing 26 January began early in the nineteenth century with Sydney almanacs referring to First Landing Day or Foundation Day. That was the day in 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip, commander of the First Fleet of eleven convict ships from Great Britain and the first governor of New South Wales, arrived at Sydney Cove. The raising of the Union Jack there symbolised British occupation of the eastern half of the continent claimed by Captain James Cook on 22 August in 1770.