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 for the history of this country.
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.
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 2017
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! Start the day off with a special performance of music and dance by Indigenous performers at Barangaroo whilst the Aboriginal and Australian flags are raised on Sydney Harbour Bridge. During the day head to Darling Harbour for live music from around the world, numerous food stalls, watch the wheelchair race or take part in giant games like Jenga and Connect 4... The Rocks has markets, live music and loads going on all day.
Melbourne - Do not miss the Australian Day Parade which will take place from Swanston St to St Kilda Road from 11am to midday. Docklands is the place to head to for a line-up of some local talent, and great food trucks. Live music will played into the night in time for the fireworks.
Byron Bay - A breakfast in the park in honour of Australia Day, this will be held next to the Byron Bay surf club from 7.30am until 11am (or at Brunswick Heads from 7.30am until 10am). From 11am until 2.30pm watch the "Celebration of the Survival of Indigenous Culture in Byron Bay" at Main Beach Park. Or you could just get your Aussie flags out and head to the beach for the day!
Brisbane - Head to Victoria Park if you're a kid or a big kid as there's lots going on for the young at heart.
Australia Day 2017 at Nomads
Full 2017 Nomads hostel event details coming soon!
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.
At Nomads Byron Bay we will have a $10 Aussie BBQ going from 12pm, Triple J All Day and games including the vegemite challenge, thong throwing comp and best dressed prizes.
Sydney: This year at Westend Backpackers we will be going down to Coogee for a BBQ, Hottest 100 and icy cold goon! Should be a ripper - weather permitting...
Brisbane: At Nomads Brisbane & Down Under Bar. Wednesday: "Bogans & Bit@#es Party" - Bikini Comp, Iron Man Challenge, Limbo Comp, Dj Oli. Thursday: "Singlets and Stubbies Party" - Australia Quiz, Fake Orgasm comp, Musical Chairs comp, Dj Oli. Friday: "Waiting for a Mate Friday" - Pie Eating comp, Heads & Tails Comp, Pick your mate up. Remote Control Car Competition, Dj Afroboy & Dj Bose. Saturday: "Foam Party" - Shag-a-Roo Comp - Big blow up Roo for patrons to Shag, Twerk Comp, Topless hosts, Dj Afroboy & Tee-Jay
Cairns: Nomads Cairns will be hosting their 4th annual Aus Day Pool Party Pub Crawl. Starts at Nomads at 2pm - BBQ, DJ, fun n games for everyone to enjoy (including weetbix eating comp and a volleyball comp)