Home   Calendar   Holidays   Australia   Australia Day
Flag for Australia

Australia Day in Australia

Australia Day is on January 26 and commemorates the establishment of the first European settlement at Port Jackson, now part of Sydney, in 1788.

Is Australia Day a Public Holiday?

Australia Day is a public holiday. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

Young girl holding the Australian flag.

Celebrate Australia on Australia Day.

©iStockphoto.com/RichVintage

What Do People Do?

Many people have a day off work and use the day among other things to barbecue, go to outdoor concerts, and to play or watch sports events.

Different places in Australia celebrate the day differently. For example, Sydney has boat races including a ferry race and the tall ships race, while Adelaide celebrates with a parade, concert, fireworks, and a cricket match.

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

Public Life

Australia Day is a public holiday in all states and territories. All schools and post offices are closed. Some public transport services do not operate, and others run a reduced service. Stores are often open, but may have reduced opening hours. There may be some congestion on roads, particularly close to major events.

Background

January 26 marks the landing of the First Fleet, a convoy of 11 ships carrying convicts, at Port Jackson in 1788. This event represents the founding of the colony New South Wales.

In 1818, on the 30th anniversary of the founding of the colony, the Governor of New South Wales gave all government employees a holiday. He also celebrated the day with a 30-gun salute and a ball. In the following years, employees of banks and other organizations were also given holidays.

Initially, it was only New South Wales that celebrated the day, and it was known as First Landing Day or Foundation Day. In 1838, 50 years after the First Fleet arrived, Foundation Day was declared Australia's first public holiday in New South Wales.

By 1935, January 26 was known as Australia Day in all states except New South Wales, where it was still called Anniversary Day. From 1946, January 26 was called Australia Day in all states and territories, and since 1994, the Australia Day public holiday has been on January 26 throughout the country.

Because it marks the day of colonization, Aboriginal Australians often feel that the celebrations on Australia Day exclude them. The day has been renamed Invasion Day, and protests do appear side-by-side the celebrations.

In recent years, efforts have been made to make the holiday include all Australians, and in 2013, the Australian flag and Aboriginal flag were raised on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the first time on Australia Day.

Symbols

The symbols of Australia are commonly used on Australia Day: The Australian national flag, with its representations of the Union Jack, the Commonwealth Star, and the five stars of the Southern Cross. The national anthem, Advance Australia Fair, is played, but also Australia’s unofficial anthem, Waltzing Matilda, is a common song to be heard.

Other symbols include the Golden Wattle, which is the national floral emblem, the opal, which is the national gemstone, and the national colors of green and gold.

Australia Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010TueJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2011WedJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2012ThuJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2013SatJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2013MonJan 28Australia Day observedNational Holiday 
2014SunJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2014MonJan 27Australia Day observedNational Holiday 
2015MonJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2016TueJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2017ThuJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2018FriJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2019SatJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2019MonJan 28Australia Day observedNational Holiday 
2020SunJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2020MonJan 27Australia Day observedNational Holiday 

You might also like

Look Up for Shooting Stars!

Look Up for Shooting Stars!

The Leonid meteor shower is active now and peaks on Nov 17/18. Use our Interactive Meteor Shower Sky Map to see when and where to best see these shooting stars. more

Commuters and tourists in Canary Wharf, London, United Kingdom.

Daylight Saving Time (DST)

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of setting the clocks forward 1 hour from standard time during the summer months, and back again in the fall, in order to make better use of natural daylight. more

Calendar with 12 months

12 Months of the Year

The 12 months of the year are linked to the Moon's orbit around Earth. Why are there 12 months? What do the month names mean? more