This year: Thursday, January 26, 2017
Australia Day Is Australia's Anniversary Day
Australia Day is celebrated on January 26th in the commemoration of the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove in 1788. The First Fleet set up by British Lord Sydney, the British Home Secretary at the time, was used for shipping criminals from England to Botany Bay. Being located further down the coast from Sydney Cove it was challenging to securely anchor there, and the area itself was lacking fresh drinking water. It was discovered by Lord Sydney that Sydney Cove in the New South Wales state of Australia was ideal for their needs as a prison colony, so he established the prison colony at that point. The colony was soon named Sydney after Lord Sydney - hence the name Sydney Cove. Sydney Cove is located in the port area known as Port Jackson. The day of January 26, 1788 is known as Australia Day now, or Anniversary Day, and Australians celebrated it as the day when there country was first occupied by European settlers.
For many years the Australia Day holiday was held on the closest Monday to January 26, so that there could be a long holiday weekend for the country. However, that was changed in 1936 and now the holiday is held on the actual day of January 26. Australians take their Australia Day celebrations very seriously as in 1936 they did not only move the holiday to the actual day, but they also created the Celebrations Council which was put in charge of all Australia Day celebrations. The Council was later changed to be known as the National Australia Day Council which is in charge of not only coordinating the nationally recognized celebrations of Australia Day, but also of things such as the Australian of the Year awards. The Australian of the Year Awards are organized through local committees at the state and territory level throughout the country. The state and territory winners are announced at various ceremonies held in November and December with the national award winners being presented at a huge ceremony on the eve of Australia Day.
Australia Day is not necessarily welcomed and celebrated by everyone in Australia. To many of the aboriginal tribes, people that are descendant from those that originally settled Australia and are the ones that are truly native to the country, the notion of celebrating the day that the British turned their land into a prison colony is extremely offensive. In 1988 the aboriginal tribes created a counter-holiday to Australia Day that they call the Invasion Day. It is meant to commemorate the invasion of the British on Australian soil and it is remembered on the same day as Australia Day. They also created the Survival Day as a way of remembering the aboriginal people that survived the settling of the British in their native land.