Proclamation Day in South Australia
Proclamation Day in South Australia is a significant annual observance celebrated on December 26th. It commemorates the proclamation of the colony of South Australia in 1836, marking the establishment of the province and its recognition as a British colony. Proclamation Day serves as an important historical milestone in South Australia’s history.
On December 28, 1836, Captain John Hindmarsh arrived in Holdfast Bay, South Australia, aboard the HMS Buffalo. He read the proclamation declaring South Australia as a British colony and took on the role of the first governor of the colony. This event marked the formal establishment of South Australia and its separation from New South Wales.
The proclamation of South Australia was unique in its vision of creating a colony based on principles of religious freedom and social reform, and it aimed to provide opportunities for free settlement. The colony’s founders sought to create a more egalitarian and progressive society, which set it apart from some other Australian colonies of the time.
Originally the day was observed on December 28. On November 4, 1993, however, the new Holidays Amendment Act 1993 changed the date for observance to December 26, to coincide with Boxing Day as celebrated in other Australian states.
Traditions and Observations
Proclamation Day in South Australia is observed with various traditions and activities that celebrate the colony’s founding and its unique history:
The day often begins with official ceremonies and reenactments held in key historical locations, such as Old Gum Tree in Glenelg, where Captain Hindmarsh is said to have read the proclamation. These ceremonies may include the reading of the original proclamation and the raising of the British and Australian flags.
South Australians come together for community events, picnics, and barbecues in parks and public spaces. It is a time for families and friends to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Exhibitions and displays related to the history of South Australia, its founding, and its early years are often organized in museums, libraries, and cultural institutions. These displays provide insights into the colony’s past.
Cultural events and performances, including music, dance, and theater, may take place to celebrate South Australia’s diverse heritage and cultural richness. Some towns and cities in South Australia host fireworks displays and festivals with entertainment, food stalls, and activities for children, creating a festive atmosphere.
Educational programs, lectures, and discussions on topics related to South Australia’s history and its significance in shaping the nation may be organized. Proclamation Day is also an occasion to recognize individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to the community and the state.
Proclamation Day in South Australia serves as an opportunity for residents to reflect on their state’s history, values, and aspirations. It is a day to celebrate the principles of freedom, democracy, and social progress that were integral to the colony’s founding. While the specific traditions may vary from one community to another, the day is a testament to the enduring spirit and heritage of South Australia.