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Western Australia Day in Australia

On June 1, 1829, Western Australia's coast was first sighted from the merchant ship Barque Parmelia. This led to the establishment of the Swan River Colony, the first permanent British colony in Western Australia. Western Australia Day (formerly Foundation Day) is officially celebrated on June 1, but the public holiday is observed on the first Monday in June.

Is Western Australia Day a Public Holiday?

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

Foundation Day Australia Aboriginal art

Foundation Day celebrates the meeting of two cultures, one of them being Australia's Indigenous culture.

©iStockphoto.com/ron sumners

What Do People Do?

A range of events are organized either on June 1 or on the first Monday in June. These include a Western Australia Day breakfast hosted by the Governor of Western Australia. The invitations to this event come in form of competition prizes. Entrants in the competition are usually asked to describe why a given community is strong, vibrant and inclusive. Other activities celebrate modern communities and the lives of the early white settlers and those of Indigenous Australians who had lived there for thousands of years.

Public Life

Western Australia Day on the first Monday in June is a public holiday in Western Australia. Schools and other educational establishments are closed, as are many businesses and other organizations. Stores are usually closed, although small and specialty stores may be open. There are normally some changes to public transport services within Western Australia. Some services, particularly early in the morning may be cancelled but there may be extra buses or trains later in the day.

In the other states and territories of Australia, the first Monday is June is not a public holiday. Schools, businesses, stores and other organizations are open as usual.

Background

The first Europeans to visit the Western coast of Australia were Dutch explorers in the 1600s. Later a French party also visited the area. However, many early visitors were not positive about the land's potential so they travelled further.

In 1826, the first British settlement, an outpost of the army, was established in Western Australia. During 1827, Admiral Sir James Stirling led a number of explorations along Australia's west coast and recommended that a permanent settlement should be established in the Swan River area. In 1829, he returned to the area with a navy vessel, HMS Challenger, and the merchant ship Barque Parmelia.

On June 1, 1829, Australia's west coast was sighted from the Parmelia, although the ship did not reach anchor until the following day. Later that year, more ships arrived in the area and Perth was officially founded. The area was known as the Swan River Colony until 1832, when it became known as Western Australia. In 1834, Stirling, who was now administrator of Western Australia, decided to hold an annual celebration to unite the settlers, masters, servants and Indigenous Australians within and around the colony. June 1 was the chosen date because it was the anniversary of the first sighting of Western Australia from the Parmelia and marks an important victory for the British navy over the French in 1794.

Foundation Day was renamed Western Australia Day in 2011.

Western Australia Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010MonJun 7Foundation DayCommon State holidayWestern Australia
2011MonJun 6Foundation DayCommon State holidayWestern Australia
2012MonJun 4Western Australia DayCommon State holidayWestern Australia
2013MonJun 3Western Australia DayCommon State holidayWestern Australia
2014MonJun 2Western Australia DayCommon State holidayWestern Australia
2015MonJun 1Western Australia DayCommon State holidayWestern Australia
2016MonJun 6Western Australia DayCommon State holidayWestern Australia
2017MonJun 5Western Australia DayCommon State holidayWestern Australia
2018MonJun 4Western Australia DayCommon State holidayWestern Australia
2019MonJun 3Western Australia DayCommon State holidayWestern Australia
2020MonJun 1Western Australia DayCommon State holidayWestern Australia

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