On 26th January Australians celebrate Australia Day, a national holiday.
Many Australians see it mainly as a day off and a good excuse to have a few beers and a barbeque – the Australian national dish!
Around the country there are parades, bands, and races of various kinds. Also it is common to see flag raisings and local citizenship ceremonies, welcoming new immigrants into Australia. It can be surprisingly moving to watch people taking the Australian Citizenship Pledge.
By far the biggest ceremonies and events take place in and around Sydney. This is because Australia Day commemorates the “first landing day” or “foundation day” in 1788 when the first fleet arrived at Sydney cove. Australia Day, in other words, commemorates the founding of New South Wales, so it is unsurprising that it is more warmly celebrated there than in the other states. The main events include the Sydney Regatta, events in Darling Harbour all day (best dressed vessels, gun salute, fireworks in the evening) and a free outdoor Jazz concert – Jazz on the Water – that often has fantastic bands and singers and is definitely worth a look.
Australia Day is also seen as a “day of mourning” or protest by Aboriginal groups, the “anniversary of the Whitemen’s seizure of our country”. In response to this there have been various attempts to make Australia day more inclusive, but this tension continues.
The Lazyshark.com “What’s on in Australia and New Zealand” section means travellers and backpackers can keep themselves in the know as to what events and festivals are happening whilst they are travelling around Australasia and when they are taking place.