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Australia Day in Australia

Australia Day is a national holiday held on the anniversary of the First Fleet from Britain landing in Sydney. The day holds different meanings to the Australian population.

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.

Beach cricket is a popular Australia Day activity.

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Australia Day Celebrations

Most people have a day off work on Australia Day and spend the day on the beach, having a barbecue, going to outdoor concerts, or watching sports events.

States in Australia celebrate the holiday with different Australia Day events. In NSW, boat races are common, including the tall ships race regatta in Sydney. In QLD, the day includes a food festival known as the Great Australian Bites, and in Melbourne, VIC, a parade is part of the celebrations.

Australia Day citizenship ceremonies are common. These ceremonies welcome immigrants who have been granted citizenship in a multicultural country. Australia Day awards are also handed out on January 26, including Australian of the year and the Order of Australia from the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Controversial National Day

Because Australia Day marks the date of the country's colonization, there is a growing movement of people who feel the holiday must change the date or theme. As a result, it is common to see protests alongside some celebrations.

Some consider the holiday a day of mourning and have re-named it Invasion Day. Other groups, including the Greens political party, have argued for the date to be changed because the 26th, the day Australia celebrates its national day, represents pain and suffering for many First Australians.

Official Australia Day celebrations start by honoring Australia’s 60,000-year history, including the acknowledgment of the traditional custodians and First Nation Elders as original owners of the land. The impact of colonization on indigenous Australians—the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders—is also highlighted.

The National Australia Day Council was established in 1979 with a vision to make future Australia Day celebrations “truly national and Australia-wide.”

The Australian and Aboriginal flags were raised on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the first time on Australia Day in 2013. Today, the Aboriginal flag is a permanent fixture on the famous bridge.

Because of the controversial date, some companies let employees choose if they want to work on Australia Day and take the day off later. For now, this is not a public right but a special agreement between employer and employee.

What Happened on January 26, 1788?

The date of Australia Day marks the day Captain Arthur Phillip and a convoy of 11 ships carrying 1500 passengers, including 700 prisoners, came to Australia.

It is known as the landing of the First Fleet at Port Jackson on January 26, 1788.

Is Australia Day Celebrated in Every State of Australia?

Initially, only New South Wales celebrated the holiday, and it was known as First Landing Day or Foundation Day.

In 1818, on the 30th anniversary of the colony's founding, 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. 50 years after the First Fleet arrived, in 1838, 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 it became a national public holiday in 1988. Since 1994, Australia Day has been held on January 26.

Australia Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2018FriJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2019SatJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2019MonJan 28Australia Day ObservedState HolidayAll except Christmas Island, Heard and McDonald Islands
2020SunJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2020MonJan 27Australia Day ObservedState HolidayAll except Christmas Island, Heard and McDonald Islands
2021TueJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2022WedJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2023ThuJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2024FriJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2025SunJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2025MonJan 27Australia Day ObservedState HolidayAll except Christmas Island, Heard and McDonald Islands
2026MonJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2027TueJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 
2028WedJan 26Australia DayNational Holiday 

While we diligently research and update our holiday dates, some of the information in the table above may be preliminary. If you find an error, please let us know.