Australia Day is celebrated on the 26th of January every year, marked by most Australians with a day off due to the national public holiday, along with parties, going to the beach and attending fireworks displays. And of course BBQ parties; there’s certainly nothing more Australian than an Aussie BBQ on Australia Day.
Australia Day is an opportunity for Australians to come together to celebrate their country and culture.
But do you know what Australia Day really symbolises? We have compiled a list of some interesting facts about Australia Day and history that you may not have already known.
Facts about Australia Day
- In 2015 Australia day will coincide with 150th anniversary of Colac’s Botanic Gardens.
- Australia Day today is a celebration of diversity and tolerance in Australian society, embracing all ethnic backgrounds, racial differences and political viewpoints.
- The First Fleet, consisting of 11 ships and led by Captain Arthur Philip from Great Britain, arrived at Port Jackson on January 26, 1788.
- The first recorded ‘Australia Day’ celebrations were held in 1808. 26 January 1808 marked twenty years since Captain Arthur Phillip had raised the British flag at Sydney Cove claiming Australia for the Poms – and the Aussies have been beating them at cricket ever since.
- Lachlan Macquarie is the first Australian Governor who held the first ‘official’ Australia Day celebrations. 26 January 1818 marked thirty years of European settlement in the ‘colony’ and Governor Lachlan Macquarie organised the first ‘official’ ‘Australia Day’ celebrations which included a thirty gun salute and a dinner at Government House followed by a ball.
- New South Wales was the first colony to declare ‘Australia Day’ as a public holiday in 1838. On the fiftieth anniversary of the landing at Sydney Cove ‘Australia Day’ became a public holiday in the colony of NSW. By 1888 nearly all the ‘colonial’ capital cities had proclaimed a public holiday to celebrate ‘Australia Day’.
- The first Australian of the Year award was awarded to Professor Macfarlane Burnet who had won the Nobel Prize in the same year of 1960 for his groundbreaking physiology research.
- Australia was originally designed as a penal colony – a place used to exile convicts and criminals. The first was named the Colony of New South Wales.
- Both the emu and kangaroo are used as symbols of Australia. Why? As both kangaroos and emus can’t move backwards thus representing Australia’s progress – always moving forward.
For more facts, check out this infographic on Australia Day: