australian culture and customs

find out how australians do things, how we see the world and the world sees us

Australia Day

January 26th

australian flag


Australia Day commemorates the day in 1788 when Captain Arthur Phillip landed in Sydney Cove and claimed Australia’s eastern side for Britain through the symbolic act of planting the British flag (known as the ‘Union Jack’).  Australia Day has become bigger and bigger in Australia in recent years.  It is now a public holiday all around Australia.


Many people both born in Australia and those who have come from abroad love the Australia Day celebrations and have a great time.  Some Aboriginal people question the idea of celebrating the day that the country that they had lived in for over 40,000 years was occupied and, as well as that, was claimed to have been uninhabited by anyone.  Some Aboriginal and other Australians therefore prefer to call the day Invasion Day and others suggest we chose a different date to celebrate.


Australia day is a chance to get together with friends and family.  Lots of people have a barbeque at home or down at the beach or river or park.  Many places hold Australia Day concerts in the evening with fireworks displays to finish off the evening. Many citizenship ceremonies are also held on Australia Day.

Australian identity and our flag

There are many questions and much debate in Australia about the Australian flag

  • should it still contain the union jack which is the flag of Great Britain when many think it is time we became an independent republic?
  • why do people want a new flag; our old one is perfect and shows respect to our queen (Queen Elizabeth the II of Britain) and founders? We want to remain a constitutional monarchy.
  • is flying the flag on cars, wrapping it around your body, putting it on T-shirts and swimmers and anywhere else disrespectful to those who have fought to defend Australia under this flag ?
  • has the Australian flag become a symbol of right-wing nationalism?
  • has the Australian flag become a symbol of racism implying that if you aren’t ‘white’, you don’t belong here?
  • why doesn’t the flag reference the original Aboriginal and Islander inhabitants of Australia but have a reference to Great Britain?

One comment on “Australia Day

  1. Jane Belotti
    January 26, 2013

    I have always agreed with Indigenous Australians and considered that January 26th is not the best day to celebrate Australia Day. I would hope that when Australia becomes a Republic and design a new flag that we also take the opportunity to talk about another day which will be a day that all Australians feel proud of.

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