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 2016
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 and Darling Harbour are both places to be for some free live music! During the day head to Darling Harbour for live music from around the world, in the evening there'll be a "breathtaking display of fireworks". The Rocks has markets, live music and loads going on all day. Or head to the Festival Village in Hyde Park for music and circus acts.
Melbourne - Do not miss the Australian Day Parade which will take place from Swanston St to St Kilda Road from 11:00am to midday. Docklands is the place to head to for a line-up of some local talent, and great food. Live music will played into the night in time for the fireworks.
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 2016 at Nomads
Airlie Beach: If you're heading to Airlie Beach you're in for a treat with a 5 day build up to Australia Day, including chances to win some fantastic prizes including a Cruise Whitsundays day trip, a Pioneer Jet Tour and several chances to win some cash (details on the poster)! On Australia Day itself, Nomads Airlie Beach has live music at The Shed Bar after the Triple J Hottest 100 Countdown, a free BBQ and a pie eating competition where you could win $200 cash!
Byron Bay: In Byron Bay at the Arts Factory Lodge: POOL PARTY / TRIPLE J Hottest 100 from 12 noon / Gourmet sausage sizzle $3 / Free fun, prizes & give aways/ BYO / 12 noon to 6pm. Nomads Byron Bay will be hosting an Australia day dress up Party in our beautiful sun drenched courtyard.. Come relax in our 2 x twelve seater Jacuzzi's or hang out in one of our many hammocks in the courtyard whilst listening to the top 100 countdown hosted by triple J. keep your stomachs from grumbling with our $10 all you can eat feast and get your best Australiana outfit on because we will be throwing out some awesome prizes for the best dressed. See you there!
Melbourne: Here at Nomads Melbourne we are getting into the swing of all things Auzzie this coming 26th Jan. Our 'Industry' bar will have loads of discounted Australian lagers to go with our gold coin donation sausage sizzle. We will be hosting 'Australiana' games like a thong throwing competition and biting a biscuit to the shape of Australia Also drinks deals awarded for successfully throwing a shrimp on our BBQ, and free AUS day singlets for the first 100 patrons in the bar.
Sydney: Join the Westend crew this Australia Day as we head on down to Bondi Beach for a day full of festivities and celebrations. Ask the reception desk for more details.