Australia Day Holiday – History



After 8 months of sailing from England, on 26 January of 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip and a few dozen officers and oarsmen rowed ashore to land at what is now known as Sydney Cove.


On the 30th anniversary of the founding of the colony, and Governor Lachlan Macquarie chose to acknowledge the 26thof January with the first official celebration and he declared that the day would be a holiday for all government workers.

1838 (50 Years)

On the 50th anniversary as part of the celebrations Australia’s first public holiday was declared.

1888 (100 Years)

For the first 100 years, 26 January was very much a New South Wales affair, as each of the colonies had their own commemorations for their own founding date.

In 1888, all colonial capitals except South Australia celebrated “Anniversary Day”. Eventually in 1910, South Australia adopted 26 January as “Federation Day”.


In 1915 a committee to celebrate Australia Day was formed, and in an extraordinary decision the date chosen was 30 July !!!


In this year Victoria adopted 26 January as Australia Day and by 1935 all states of Australia were celebrating 26 January as Australia Day.

1938 (150 Years)

New South Wales was first to abandon the traditional long weekend and hold the actual holiday on Wednesday 26 January.


All governments agreed to unify the celebrations on 26 January as “Australia Day” but take the public holiday on the Monday closest to the actual anniversary.


All states and territories agreed to unify the public holiday on the actual day for the first time (unless it fell on a Saturday or Sunday) in which a day in lieu has since been given on the following Monday.


Australia Day weekend lunch, dinner or a quick drink at Doyles Bridge Hotel is an institution, so book now (03) 8587 1000.