Australia Day is the national day of Australia celebrating the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788. It is a day to celebrate all the things that people love about the country of Australia.
When is Australia Day celebrated?
Who celebrates this day?
Although it is a fairly new holiday in Australia, much of the country celebrates the day.
What do people do to celebrate?
Since Australia Day takes place in the summer "down under", many people celebrate the day with outdoor events. There are plenty of large public events to attend such as music festivals, sports competitions, fireworks shows, and community awards ceremonies. Many people attend these events or just have a gathering of their own family and friends where they may have a barbecue or picnic to celebrate the day.
A lot of people fly the Australian National Flag on this day. They may also fly the Aboriginal Flag or the Torres Strait Islander Flag.
The single largest event held this day is the City of Perth Skyworks. Around half a million people attend this annual fireworks show that is held over the Swan River in Perth. It is a huge fireworks show where fireworks have been launched from bridges, moving boats, and even skyscrapers.
History of Australia Day
On January 26, 1788 the First Fleet under Captain Arthur Phillip arrived at Sydney Cove in Australia and claimed the land for Great Britain. The First Fleet was made up mostly of prisoners who established a penal colony in Australia.
The 26th was celebrated early on as the anniversary of the landing date of the First Fleet. For the first 100 years the day was celebrated mostly by people in New South Wales. Other colonies had their own foundation days that they celebrated.
In 1888, one hundred years after the First Fleet landed, all of the colony capitals but Adelaide celebrated the day as Anniversary Day. By 1935 all the states celebrated the 26th as Anniversary Day.
In 1946 the day was renamed to Australia Day.
Fun Facts About Australia Day
- It is estimated that over half of Australia's 21 million citizens participate in celebrating this day.
- During the 1988 Bicentennial Celebration (200 years) over 2.5 million people attended the celebration in Sydney.
- Boat races such as the ferry race and the tall ships race are held in Sydney Harbor on this day.
- Citizenship ceremonies are a big part of the day. In 2011 around 13,000 people became citizens on this day.
- There has been criticism of the day by the Indigenous Peoples of Australia. There are also a number of alternative dates that some people would like to use for the national day.
- Out of the 1000 people who arrived on the First Fleet, around 700 were prisoners.
- Since 1960 the Australian of the Year has been awarded on this day. Past winners include actor Geoffrey Rush, cricket player Steve Waugh, and painter Arthur Boyd.
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