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
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).
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 who doesn't like a day at the beach with live music? Head to Coogee Beach between 10am and 1pm for live music and a nice picnic on the beach. (This is an alcohol free event, however I'm sure you can go to a bar after 1pm)
Melbourne - If you're in Melbourne then there's a free festival being held at Dandenong Park between 3pm and 9.30pm.As the organisers themselves say "you’ll have fun whether you are into music, art, magic, sports, crafts, bubbles, circus, or food…". This event is also alcohol free, but for a family friendly day this is well worth considering.
Cairns - If you have a car and want to have an adventure why not start the day with a breakfast celebration at Yorkeys Knob (yes, real name!), where there will be great food on offer and some market stalls near the shore. In Cairns itself the good old Esplanade will have actvities from midday onwards with a free movie screening to end the day at 9pm.
Byron Bay - Another breakfast in honour of Australia Day and in Byron Bay this will be held in Apex Park from 8am to 11am, followed by a "Celebration of the Survival of Indigenous Culture (Sisters for Reconciliation)" also at Apex park from 11am until 3pm. Or you could just get your Aussie flags out and head to the beach for the day!
If you're staying at Nomads Cairns then you're in the perfect location for the Australian Day Bar Crawl, because its first stop is the Serpent bar at the hostel where you'll find a beach party - games of 'two up' - a pool party - and loads of games and prizes!
At Nomads Melbourne enjoy an Aussie BBQ and Aussie Rock tunes all day! $5 will get you 2 sausages in bread and a VB Pot! Enjoy the day on our back deck in the sun!
At KB's Bar located at Nomads Noosa the celebrations begin at midday and will carry on throughout the day until late. Enjoy the Hottest 100, a bikini competition with a $250 prize, a pie-eating competition and a pool party!
At Nomads Byron Bay we are having an Australia Day BBQ and Party in our courtyard. We will be cooking "Australian Burgers" ($5) on the BBQ with a live DJ. We will also have an artist graffiti-ing / spray painting a wall in the courtyard for everyone to watch - the artwork will be "Australian" themed. Anyone who buys an Australian Burger will go in the draw to win a skydive. Good times!!!
At Nomads All Nations, our U-Bar will have Free Pool and Classic Aussie tunes all day. We will also have a $2 sausage sizzle for most of the day so you can continue to party into the night. And if you are a tennis fan - The Australian Open highlights and final will be broadcast all day. Get your green and gold on and celebrate with us. Ozzy ozzy ozzy, Oi oi oi!
The Nomads Arts Factory will be having a pool party with an Aussie BBQ and listening to the Triple J hottest 100 countdown. A real Aussie institute!
At Nomads Westend it all kicks off Friday on Level one, free drink, some Oz inspired tunes, feel free to get festive, then in to our favourite Sidebar for some more freebies, and to continue the party! Saturday we have fun in the sun followed by A Special Australia Pukkaup Cruise that will definitely put you in the mood for some ozzie antics (tickets are only $40)! And then here it comes, the big one hits, Australia Day, first we're bringing all you lovely people for a BBQ in the sun and a few bevies ;) where we'll be dressed to the nines to pay homage to this wonderful place we call home... for now followed by a few more drinks and fun times at Sidebar!
At Nomads Airlie Beach they'll be trying something new and making a Super-size Beer pong Game which has never been done in Airlie, a giant Slip and Slide into the pool, also getting the crew back together to Re start Sunday sesh, FIRE SHOW, a free Aussie bbq, lamington tower, Triple J Top 100. Music line up: Danwar, DJ Pablo