Australia Day is the official National holiday of Australia. It is celebrated every year on January 26th and is a day in which all Australians come together as a nation to celebrate not only what is great about their country but also what is great about being an Australian. By celebrating this holiday, Australians get to celebrate the achievements of the past and look forward to the country’s bright future.
History of Australia Day
Australia Day can be traced all the way to 1787 when a fleet of eleven ships, known as First Fleet, departed from England to Australia under the authority of British Admiralty and the command of Captain Arthur Philip. This fleet was sent to establish a penal colony on the New South Wales Coast–at Botany Bay. This area was chosen because it had been claimed by Lieutenant James Cook seven years prior. However, when the fleet arrived around January 18th, it became quite apparent that Botany Bay would not be a suitable location for a penal colony.
Three days later, Captain Arthur Philip traveled about 7.5 miles to the north to see if Port Jackson was a more suitable location. They stayed until January 23rd and named it Sydney Cove – after Thomas Townshend, 1st Viscount Sydney. During this time, they also met and established contact with the Aboriginal people that lived there. On January 24th, Captain Philip gave orders to move the fleet to Sydney Cove. However, due to a massive gale that was blowing, it was nearly impossible to move the fleet. The fleet wouldn’t be able to leave Botany Bay and anchor in Sydney Bay until January 26th, thereby making January 26th Australia Day.
However, while this date was the original date in which they finally landed at Sydney Bay, it wasn’t when the colony was officially established. That didn’t occur until February 7th, 1788 when the formal proclamation of the colony was read aloud. February was also when the vesting of the land to King George III also occurred.
Australia Day Customs & Celebrations
Australia Day is treated in Australia in much the same way that Independence Day is celebrated in the United States. People who have the day off work will barbecue, watch sporting events or even attend outdoor concerts. In Sydney, there are boat and ferry races and in Adelaide, people celebrate with parades, fireworks and a cricket match. Some Australians will open up a “slab,” which is a case of beer in popular Australian or enjoy some Tim Tams – Australia’s favorite chocolate biscuit.