Just what is the significance of Australia Day? These days, especially for many backpackers visiting Australia, it's a day off work and an opportunity to drink with their friends. But Australia Day signifies something very important from this countries history.
Australia Day falls on the 26th January every year. If the 26th happens to fall at the weekend then a public holiday will follow the Monday directly afterwards (like this year, the 27th January 2014 is the actual public holiday, but most celebrations will still occur on the Sunday.)
The 26th January marks the first landing by Captain Arthur Phillip at Port Jackson in New South Wales in 1788. This meant that Australia was claimed as part of the British Empire. The early settlers wanted to celebrate this colonisation and for many years it was celebrated in just NSW. This celebration has now spread to the rest of the country although it wasn't officially recognised as a public holiday countrywide until 1994.
Whilst in the first years after settlement Australia Day was a celebration of expanding the British Empire by the settlers, this was obviously not an occasion that the indigenous Australians wished to celebrate. These days Australia Day now celebrates the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic diversity of the country, although there are still some people who are uncomfortable with the term 'celebrate' because for many years the 26th January was not a celebration for the indigenous population but a day of mourning that their country had been claimed by the British.
For a full history of Australia Day of over the last few centuries check out the NSW Australia Day website
Celebrating Australia Day
As well as festivals and community events Australia holds many ceremonies on Australia Day, including citizenship ceremonies, Australian of the year and flag flying ceremonies (the Australian flag and also the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags).
What's on? Australia Day 2015
Celebrations, festivals, community events and more have been organised throughout the country. For events happening in your local area it's worth checking out http://www.australiaday.org.au/events/
Many of the larger events have an alcohol ban, so do check before you set off, you don't want to waste your booze!
If you're staying at one of our Nomads Hostels in Australia, many of them are organising their own Australia Day events at the bars located within them, however if you want to go to an official Australia Day event during the day here's our pick of some the best:
Sydney - there are numerous events going on in Sydney on the 26th January, and it's quite hard to pick just one, however it sounds like The Rocks is part of the CBD you should head to for some free live music! The start of Australia Day celebrations happens at The Harbour Bridge with the raising of the Aboriginal and Australian flags from 7:30am. In the evening, Darling Harbour becomes the site of even more Australia Day activities. A great tip for Australia Day is to head to the Yabun Festival in Camperdown's Victoria Park and join in on the aboriginal and torres strait island festivities and performances. Circular Quay and The Rocks come alive with loads of free concerts and Darling Harbour is bustling with roving performers and events.
Melbourne - Do not miss the Australian Day Parade which will take place around Swanston St and Flinders St from 11:00am. Federation Square will host a number of free concerts on the stage and the Docklands is also a great place to watch the fireworks, check out the markets and grab a sausage! Most of the bars in and around Melbourne will also host huge Australia Day parties and the parks and beaches will be swarmed with locals and visitors enjoying a BBQ and a beer in the sunshine.
Cairns - In Cairns itself the good old Esplanade will have activities from midday onwards (including a good old thong throwing competition) with a free classic Aussie movie screening to end the day.
Byron Bay - Another breakfast in honour of Australia Day and in Byron Bay this will be held next to the Byron Bay surf club from 7.30am, followed by the Australia Day paddle. From 11am until 2.30pm watch the "Celebration of the Survival of Indigenous Culture (Sisters for Reconciliation)". Or you could just get your Aussie flags out and head to the beach for the day!
Australia Day 2015 at Nomads
If you're staying at Nomads Cairns this 26th January will again see the famous Cairns Aussie Day Pub Crawl - it's the event of the year and includes drinks, traditional Aussie BBQ, loads of time in the pool and lots of games and laughs. Get your ticket at reception before they sell out and get your thongs and togs at the ready!
In Byron Bay at the Arts Factory Lodge: Aussie pool party and BBQ. Listen to the Triple J hottest 100 countdown from midday to 6 pm. BYO drinks (no glass in the pool) and BBQ available for just $12 full BBQ or sausage sizzle $2.50 & chicken skewers $3.00. Come prepared with pool toys, simmers, sunscreen and hat and celebrate Australia Day the Aussie way!
Or, also in Byron Bay - Australia Day is the day that Australians love to celebrate the most and we will be inviting the backpackers to celebrate with us at Nomads Byron Bay. There will be a relaxed Australia Day party in our courtyard, laying in the jacuzzi's and enjoying an Australia BBQ feast serving amazing aussie burgers while listening to the Triple J 100. There will be awesome prizes for best dressed (Australia themed) and an amazing time will be had by all. All in-house guests welcome, $5 per person to get involved the with feast.
Australia Day in Nomads Airlie Beach... We are actually going to have a big party of Sunday 25th for Australia Day Lead up. Live Bands from 4pm, Free Pizza at 6pm with any drink purchases. Australia Day - Triple J Pool party from 12pm. Chill out in large pool area and enjoy the best songs from 2014.
In Sydney at Nomads Westend we will be hosting the top 100 countdown on level 1 with some traditional Aussie food and an Australian themed party / bogan party and catch a party bus to homebar.
Australia Day at Nomads All Nations in Melbourne is going to be Massive! Our bar will be opening early with a free Aussie Breakfast BBQ at 10am. After lining our stomachs the party will begin with Triple J blasting, bar games, prizes and giveaways. After the days festivities, DJ's will be pumping till early hours of the morning!
At Nomads Noosa we have a pool party from 12pm with Triple J's Hottest 100, some Aussie Bogan races and a baked bean Wet T & Jock Competition. KB's Bar will be open from 12pm.
To celebrate Australia Day at Nomads Melbourne, we will be having a BBQ @ 1pm - free hotdog with any alcoholic drink purchased whilst listening to the Triple J countdown. Games will be played with chances to win prizes! We encourage everyone get involved - dress up in Australian flags, paint your face and party into the night.
Also in Melbourne at The Coffee Palace - Free Rooftop BBQ Goon punch and JJJ hottest 100 count down. Travel prize raffle.