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What is Australia Day?

A nation’s pride resides in the hearts of every citizen and must be celebrated. Therefore, in Australia, every contribution by Australian citizens to this dynamic and vibrant nation is recognized and celebrated on Australia Day. So, in essence, what is Australia Day?

Australia day is celebrated on 26 January every year according to the culture of the nation. There are survival day concerts, sporting events, anniversary dinners, and of course, happiness and cheers on this day.

About Australia

Australia
Photo by Daisy Huang on Flickr

Every nation is distinct in terms of culture, social conventions, geography, cuisine, and weather, although some are truly exceptional. Amongst the best nations is Australia. Since it was founded while explorers were looking for the territory under Asia in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia is sometimes known as the ‘Land Down Under.’

Other than being the largest continent country and having a distinct English accent, Guardian Australia has several characteristics that appeal to and draw visitors from all around the world.

Waterfalls, wide-open landscapes, beaches, grasslands, ‘the bush’, and ‘the outback’ are among Australia’s most well-known features. Australia is amongst the world’s most densely populated countries, with cities like Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, and Brisbane attracting tourists from all over the world.

Many people know about what is Australia Day and what Australia is famous for, beaches, colonial history, its food, and unique species of flora and fauna, but it is much more than that. Australia, the world’s smallest continent and one of the world’s largest nations, is located in the Southern Hemisphere, between the Indian and Pacific oceans.

Australia, technically the commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign nation that encompasses the Australian continent’s coast, Tasmania’s island, and a series of minor islands. Therefore, Australia is the world’s and Oceania’s sixth-largest country in terms of land area.

If you are looking for a day filled with adventure, have a look at 10 Fun Things To Do in Tasmania and make the most of your day.

Who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People?

Indigenous Australians are descendants of individuals who resided in Australia and its neighboring islands before European colonization. To summarize, Australia’s Indigenous people are categorized into two groups, Torres Strait Islanders, who hail from the Torres Strait Islands, nestled in the north of Cape York in Queensland, and Aboriginal people, who hail from all over the country.

There are numerous varied languages, customs, and traditions among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. As a result, when people allude to ‘Indigenous Australians’, they are referring to hundreds of different tribes.

There are several fellowships, scholarships, degree programs, and government programs specifically for Torres Strait Islander and Aboriginal people in Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals could be requested to affirm their Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background to receive certain programs or services.

Programs or services are typically designed to overcome difficulties an Aboriginal woman faces in sociocultural, health, and economic disadvantage. This guarantees that specialized Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs, subsidies, and grants reach and are utilized by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Who was Arthur Phillip?

Arthur Phillip
Photo by Patrick Begbie on Flickr

Admiral Arthur Phillip was born in London, England, on 11 October 1738, and died in Bath, Somerset, on 31 August 1814. He was a Royal British Navy commander who served as the province of New South Wales’ very first respected governor.

Admiral was entrusted by Lord Sydney to lead the First Fleet, an operation of 11 ships and crews were to form a penal colony and community at Botany Bay, New South Wales, after a long maritime experience. When he arrived in Botany Bay, he considered the region inadequate for a settlement and sought a more suitable location. In the end, he settled in Port Jackson, which is now Sydney, Australia.

Phillip battled rebellious inmates and soldiers until the mid of 1790 when starvation threatened, but he succeeded in establishing a permanent colony in Australia’s land. Considering his sympathetic attitude towards native Aboriginal people, he was unable to bring settlers and indigenous together in peace.

He was a foresighted governor who recognized the necessity for a civil government and a method for emancipating prisoners in New South Wales. However, his proposal to send qualified artisans on the First Fleet’s expedition was turned down.

As a result, he had major issues with labor, control, and supplies. Due to ill health, he returned to England in 1792, although he continued to serve at sea and was appointed as an admiral in 1814.

What is Australia Day?

From the Aboriginal leaders and Torres Strait Islander people and ancestors, who have lived here for over 65,000 years, to those who have resided here for decades, to those who have arrived from all over the world to call Australia home, Australia Day holds importance for all.

People, especially the people of this lively nation usually celebrate all the things they love about Australia on Australia Day, including the beaches, sense of joy, lifestyle, food, freedom, democracy, their national identity, etc.

For some, ‘What is Australia Day’ has a positive approach, Australia Day commemorates the invasion and marks the start of a period of mourning, perseverance, and fortitude for Australia’s indigenous people. It commemorates the First Fleet’s arrival at Sydney Harbour Cove in 1788, then Arthur Phillip raising the Union Flag and days following explorations at Port Jackson in New South Wales.

The perseverance of 26 January is a significant occasion in Australian history that has evolved, beginning as a celebration for liberated prisoners, British settlement, and growing into what has become a celebration of Australia that reflects the diversity of the country’s people, Australian society, local councils, the federal government, the commonwealth, and state governments.

History and Origination of Australia Day

What is Australia Day holiday and what is its importance? It is a national holiday that marks the founding of the very first established European settlement on the Australian continent. The British flag was hoisted at the location on 26 January 1788, by Arthur Phillip, who had arrived in Sydney Cove with a boatload of convicts.

The national date of Australia Day is 26 January, also called Foundation Day, National Day, Survival Day, and Invasion Day. It marks the celebration with special dinners by New South Wales leaders, aboriginal leaders, and businesses in the early 1800s.

It was therefore called Anniversary Day, and the first Anniversary Regatta, now known as the Australia Day Regatta. The World’s oldest known sailing competition was staged in Sydney Harbor in 1836.

National Australia Day Council

The National Australia Day Council (NADC) is a state-owned, not-for-profit organization situated in Canberra. The Australia Day National Network is an affiliated group of provincial and territorial organizations. It collaborates with the NADC to help enable Australia Day and other Australian celebrations, as well as recognizes remarkable Australians through the Australian of the Year Awards.

It is an executive board chosen by the Prime Minister that oversees the company’s activities and citizenship ceremonies. The Government of Australia, through the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, financially supports the NADC.

The Mission of National Australia Day Council

The National Australia Day Council’s fundamental objective is to heavily encourage the celebration of Australia’s national day among Australians to instill national pride and boost involvement and engagement through all sectors of society.

Its mission is to encourage good citizenship, ethics, and success by recognizing excellence and devotion to the nation via engagement, training, reflection, discourse, and debate, as well as to promote the significance of Australia Day.

History of Australia Day Council

The Australian Natives Association was a leading proponent of Australia Day as a public holiday, forming an Australia Day Celebrations Committee in Melbourne in 1946 to formalize its activities. Other states developed similar organizations, and the Federal Australia Day Council (FADC) was established to administer their activities.

The association was superseded by a government-sponsored National Australia Day Committee in 1979, along with the FADC’s cooperation. Herb Elliott, a former Olympian, was the committee’s first chairman.

It was officially renamed Australia Day Council in 1985, and it was presided over by renowned tennis star- John Newcombe. In 1990, the organization became a public corporation. Danielle Roche is the current chairperson, while Karlie Brand is the current CEO.

Why is 26 January Celebrated as Australia Day?

In the past, the question ‘what is Australia Day’ had a slightly different meaning. There was no public acknowledgment of the colony’s sustainability and the New South Wales Almanacks of 1808 and 1806 placed no symbolic importance to 26 January. But by 1808 the colony’s newcomers, particularly liberated convicts, started using the date to rejoice their fondness of the soil they lived in with drinking and joviality.

The pattern for the 1808 celebrations was that they began at sundown on January 25 and lasted till the evening. Except for Adelaide, all provincial capitals honored ‘Anniversary Day’ in 1888.

South Australia designated 26 January as Foundation Day in 1910, replacing the former holiday recognized as Accession Day, which was observed on 22 January to maintain King Edward VII’s succession to the realm, which occurred in May 1910.

Official public ceremonies were newly introduced in 1838, on the 50th anniversary of the settlement. In 1888, there were centennial celebrations across the continent, and on the 150th anniversary in 1938, the day was declared as an official holiday.

In consequence of Australia’s engagement in World War I, the inaugural what is Australia Day was founded. The notion of a national day was conceived in 1915 by the parent of four soldiers with the sole goal of raising donations for injured warriors, and the word was developed to inspire a sense of patriotism.

In 1915, a committee was established to acknowledge Australia Day, and the day selected was July 30th, on which major fund-raising initiatives to help the military campaign were taken.

The notion of what is Australia Day and setting a national date on January 26 took a long time to catch on, partially due to conflict with Anzac Day. In 1931, Victoria declared 26 January to be Australia Day, and by 1935, all Australian states had embraced the date.

In 1988, January became a national public holiday, and in 1994, an agreement was made that the holiday would be marked on the actual date, to discontinue the practice in some places of celebrating the day on the closest Monday.

Australia Day Celebrations on January 26

Australia Day Fireworks
Photo by a.canvas.of.light on Flickr

The Australian of the Year Awards has been presented in connection with Australia Day since the 1960s as a way to celebrate outstanding individuals around the country. Recipients are chosen for displaying proficiency in their field while also making a substantial contribution to their society and country.

On 26 January, Sydney hosts a momentous event. The Sydney Harbour Bridge hosts an annual ferry race that runs from Barangaroo Wharf to Shark Island. As one of the nation’s most popular events, this is a major event with magnificent views.

Many Australians enjoy a BBQ on Australia Day, while beef steaks, lamb chops, and sausages are popular choices. Because Australia Day falls during the summer, many people mark the occasion with outdoor activities. Music festivals, sports tournaments, fireworks exhibitions, and community award shows are just a few of the huge public events to attend.

Many people who know what is Australia Day join these events or simply have a get-together with their own family and friends to enjoy the day with a BBQ or picnic. The City of Perth Skyworks is the single most important event on this day.

Approximately 50 million people attend the yearly fireworks display over Perth’s Swan River. These fireworks have been launched from rooftops, cruise boats, and even skyscrapers in this massive fireworks display.

Waving the Australian Flag on the Foundation Day

Australia and Aboriginal Flags
Photo by NH53 on Flickr

January is a difficult month for First Nations people all around the country, they do not acknowledge what is Australia Day. The imperial flag-waving, the increased racism, the collective amnesia, and the glorification of the brutal regime are all examples of colonialism. Many Australians still consider January 26 to be a holiday after more than 200 years of colonization.

The Premier of Victoria hosts the Official Flag Raising Event, which is attended by the Governor of Victoria and other officials, remembering Australia’s history.

The Australian flag is based on the British Blue Emblem and depicts the Southern Cross constellations, which consist of five white stars. Other authorized flags reflect Australia, its citizens, and the government’s core activities.

The flag’s initial design was chosen from proposals in a competition held after Federation in 1901, but it was flown for the first time in Melbourne on 3rd September 1901, which was declared Australian National Flag Day. In 1903, King Edward VII commissioned a different configuration.

A declaration issued on December 8, 1908, introduced the present seven-pointed Commonwealth Star form. The flag’s specifications were initially gazetted in 1934, and the Flags Act 1953 designated it as the Australian National Flag in 1954.

The Controversy Surrounding the Invasion Day and Survival Day

Within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups, there are a variety of perspectives on the 26 January. Some see the day as a moment to honor Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ existence as the world’s oldest continuous culture within the context of Australia’s contemporary history.

For some, what is Australia Day isn’t a cause for celebration at all, but rather the start of an illegal invasion that continues to have a catastrophic impact on the aboriginal communities.

Dating back to 1938, some Aboriginal Australians and sympathizers have protested the celebration of Australia Day as a national holiday, grieving what they regard as the British invasion of the country and the beginning of colonization.

Many people mark Survival Day, Invasion Day, or Day of Mourning on 26 January as a counter-observance, with demands for the anniversary to be moved or the holiday to be eliminated. Traditionally, changing the date has been a minority viewpoint; nevertheless, polls show that support for altering the date is growing.

Conversely, some argue that Australia Day on January 26 should be scrapped as a national holiday, claiming that there is nothing to enjoy until more progress is made towards achieving social justice for indigenous peoples and recognizing that the values celebrated on the day, such as equality, liberty, and freedom, are not shared by all Australians.

Australia has grown contentious in recent years as a result of a change in the date movement, in which activists demand that Australia Day should be moved from January 26 to May 9 or be scrapped completely. Because they believe what is Australia Day should be answered as nothing.

More than Just a National Public Holiday in a Wonderful Country

Whenever January 26 falls on a Saturday or Sunday in any province or jurisdiction, the national holiday is transferred to the following Monday. Half a century after Phillip’s arrival, Australia’s initial national holiday, Foundation Day 1838, was declared. The first holiday has become an annual occurrence, and it has been celebrated on or around January 26 ever since.

A Memorable Annual Event

What is Australia Day in terms of enjoyment? January 26 is a day to focus on, honor, and embrace the Australian spirit and its best qualities, such as mastery, compassion, and perseverance. As they focus on the future, Australians are filled with hope and optimism.

The NSW Ministry, in collaboration with the NSW Australia Day Council, is dedicated to including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander groups, elders, and individuals in Australia Day festivities.

They present the people of NSW with an inclusive Australia Day program. When communities go through traumatic events, there are long-term ramifications all over the globe. Their kids and grandkids are impacted, and the trauma is passed down through the generations depending on whether and how indiscretions are recognized and ongoing issues are resolved.

Australians of today are not directly responsible for what happened in the past. But, it is a part of the shared history as Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, and, together, everyone is responsible for what happens in the future.

Contemporary Australia Day Celebrations

With greater immigration to Australia in the 1940s, the day became a time for citizenship ceremonies. Also, the government and military leaders have long played a crucial role in the celebration of Australia Day, which includes several public festivities.

What is Australia Day without numerous events in their land and the mainland, like horseracing and regattas? These have remained as the only significant and popular component of the celebrations, and the day’s events frequently conclude with a firework.

Since the late twentieth century, Aboriginals and their followers have criticized Australia Day festivities as being overly nationalistic, and have advocated for more awareness of the continent’s indigenous peoples as well as the impact of European colonization on them.

How to Celebrate Australia Day on 26 January?

Australia Day Celebration
Photo by Hasitha Tudugalle on Flickr

26 January, most famously phrased as what is Australia day, is becoming increasingly unpopular among Australians. However, their leaders have yet to reach an agreement, thus a public holiday is observed on that date every year. The best part is that enjoying the day responsibly does not require you to sit on the couch alone for hours on end.

Given below are different ways to celebrate Australia Day on 26 January:

  1. Many Australians associate Australia Day with the sun, surf, and beach. A day at the beach is a terrific way to catch some surf, unwind with friends, and take a refreshing swim in the water.
  2. A small BBQ is the perfect way to celebrate Australia Day. Bacon and steaks cooked on the grill are usually a favorite. Cook indoor, an Australian cuisine with kangaroo steak stewed in mangoes, chili, curry powder, and garam masala if you want to go all out, alas, what is Australia Day without a feast.
  3. Meeting and spending time with friends and family on Australia Day is a must, whether it’s a modest, informal get-together or a large event.
  4. Put on some music and meet around a sit-down dinner, with chip-and-dip appetizers, or perhaps a park cookout. Consider decorating your place with Australia Day banners and flags for people who want the whole Australia Day atmosphere.
  5. Gather a group of your closest pals for a game of football in the park. Football being such a popular sport in Australia, a casual Australia Day game is always a real blast.
  6. In the evening, many towns and cities enjoy fireworks displays. To obtain a nice view, bring a mat, a picnic basket, and a few snacks and go out.
  7. If you wish to listen to music that is synchronized to the fireworks, take a radio with you. With your friends, you can also sing a song about how proud you are of your nation. Sing patriotic songs like “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Down Under,” “I Still Call Australia Home,” or “True Blue.”

Now that you know what is Australia Day, the history surrounding Australia amongst first nations which were founded in history, its different names like Invasion day, and Survival day, Australia’s involvement, aboriginal culture, Arthur Phillips’s Australian government, the overcoming of dark or unfortunate history, and how to celebrate Australia Day, the article believes in generating a hope that you are ready to celebrate Australia day on 26 January with a bang.

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