Australia Day | History, Meaning, Date, Celebrations, & Facts 2023


Australia Day | History, Meaning, Date, Celebrations, & Facts: Australia Day is the National Day of the nation that is observed annually on the 26th of January to mark the first day of operations by Australia’s First Fleet in Sydney Cove.

Captain Commander Arthur Phillip rowed ashore at Sydney Cove, raised the Union flag and declared British sovereignty over a portion of the continent in 1788.

Australia Day is regarded by some Indigenous Australians as “Invasion Day” and is an emotionally charged celebration for many.

Only 43 per cent of the 22,000 Americans who were polled knew that this holiday was an opportunity to honour people who have died in the military while serving in the US Armed Forces.

Australia Day

History Of Australia Day

Captain Arthur Phillip took formal possession of the colony of New South Wales on 26 January 1788. His flags were raised for the first time in 1788—the British flag in the very first place at Sydney Cove.

In 1818, the 30th anniversary of the colony’s founding, the governor of New South Wales gave all government employees a day off (but only in the year).

In the beginning, only New South Wales celebrated the day (for obvious reasons). It was also known as “First Landing Day, “Anniversary Day”, or “Foundation Day.

In 1838, fifty years after the First Fleet arrived, Foundation Day was declared the inaugural public holiday for New South Wales.

In 1935, 26 January was officially known as Australia Day in all states apart from New South Wales, where “Anniversary Day” was the dominant name.

In 1946, the Commonwealth and the states came together to unite the celebrations on 26 January and name Australia Day.

Before 1994, was the closest Monday for an extended weekend in January. (This is a good indicator concerning Australian values!) From 1994 onwards, Australia Day has been an official holiday across the nation.

Why do we celebrate Australia Day?

Since 1994, all states and territories have observed Australia Day together on the day of the actual celebration. The day is a time to welcome new citizens or honour those who performed a sterling service.

On the other hand, there are barbecues, contests, parades, fireworks, shows and much more.

The National Australia Day Council, established in 1979, sees Australia Day as “a day to reflect on what we have achieved and what we can be proud of in our great nation” and as a “day for us to re-commit to making Australia an even better place for the generations to come”.

Is Australia Day a Public Holiday?

What Do People Do?

Many people take the day off from work and make the most of the opportunity to cook, go to outdoor activities, and participate in games or sports.

The different regions of Australia celebrations vary across various areas of Australia. For example, Sydney has boat races comprising a ferry race and Tall Ships Race and Adelaide that are celebrated with an event, parade that includes fireworks and cricket matches.

Australian citizenship ceremonies are generally held in the month of Australia Day. The traditions aim to celebrate those to who the nation has given citizenship.

While they are not official ceremonies, they usually are in an atmosphere of celebration.

Public Life

Australia Day is a national holiday. Closing schools and post offices. Some public transit companies don’t run, and others run less often. Stores may have shortened hours but remain open. Significant events may cause traffic congestion.


Aussie icon Australia Day features the Australian country’s flag, incorporating the Union Jack, Commonwealth Star, and Southern Cross. Advance Australia Fair plays.

Waltzing Matilda is Australia’s unofficial anthem. Golden Wattle, the national flower; opal, the state stone; and gold and green are others.

Australia Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2017Thu26 JanAustralia DayNational Holiday
2018Fri26 JanAustralia DayNational Holiday
2019Sat26 JanAustralia DayNational Holiday
2019Mon28 JanAustralia Day ObservedState HolidayAll except Christmas Island, Heard, and McDonald Islands
2020Sun26 JanAustralia DayNational Holiday
2020Mon27 JanAustralia Day ObservedState HolidayAll except Christmas Island, Heard, and McDonald Islands
2021Tue26 JanAustralia DayNational Holiday
2022Wed26 JanAustralia DayNational Holiday
2023Thu26 JanAustralia DayNational Holiday
2024Fri26 JanAustralia DayNational Holiday
2025Sun26 JanAustralia DayNational Holiday
2025Mon27 JanAustralia Day ObservedState HolidayAll except Christmas Island, Heard, and McDonald Islands
2026Mon26 JanAustralia DayNational Holiday
2027Tue26 JanAustralia DayNational Holiday


The NSW Australia Day Council will implement Sydney 2022. Sydney 2022 is COVID as planned. We’ll adjust the programme as needed.

Sydney’s programme will follow the latest COVID-19 requirements to ensure participant health and safety.

Sydney’s Australia Day activities are held in large open spaces so everyone can learn physical separation.

If you can’t stand far away, wear a mask and wash your hands often. Use hand sanitiser. Keep your sick house tidy.

Attend Australia Day festivities and activities in a safe, COVID-compliant manner. Local government can provide event information.

Check the NSW Government site for COVID-19 updates. Also, check here


Q. What is the history behind Australia Day?

Australia Day a holiday (January 26) honouring the establishment of the first permanent European settlement on the continent of Australia. On January 26 1788, Arthur Phillip set sail into the present Sydney Cove with a shipload of convicts. He raised the British flag on the spot.

Q. When did Australia start celebrating Australia Day?

In the 1880s, this was marked by a move towards creating a national holiday, possibly helped by the achievement of the Federation in the year 1901. It wasn’t until 1935 that Australian states and territories could use the name “Australia Day” to signify the date.

Q. What is a fact about Australia Day?

Australia Day was called “Foundation Day” in the early nineteenth century. It was celebrated with sporting events, including race events for boats and horses. The first colony that declared Australia Day as a public holiday was New South Wales in 1838, on the 50th anniversary of the Sydney Cove landing.


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