Australia Day 2017

In 2017, Australia Day will be celebrated on Thursday 26th January.



Australia – The beginnings

The First Fleet is the name given to the 11 ships that left Great Britain in 1787 to found the penal colony that became the first European settlement in Australia. The Fleet carried more than 1,000 convicts, marines and seamen and arrived between 18th and 20th January 1788 in Botany Bay, but it was immediately clear that Botany Bay was unsuitable for a settlement.

After leaving Botany Bay the fleet anchored in Sydney Cove (later Harbour) in the afternoon of the 25th. On 26th January Captain Phillip along with a few dozen marines, officers and oarsmen, rowed ashore and took possession of the land in the name of King George III.

Australia Day is the official National Day of Australia and is celebrated on 26th January. It commemorates the first landing in Australia by Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788 and the raising of the British flag. Most Australians consider 26th January with national pride, flying the Australian flag wherever possible. The celebrations reflect the diverse society and landscape of the nation and Australians attend festivals, fireworks, local community and sporting events or gather for family barbecues at homes, parks or on the beach.

Australia Day is marked by the presentation of  Governments awards such as Australian of the Year and the Australia Day Honours these awards are recognition to Australian citizens and other persons for achievement or meritorious service. Many people become citizens of Australia on Australia Day at citizenship ceremonies welcoming new immigrants into the Australian community.

Australia Day is always on 26th January and is an official public holiday in every state and territory of Australia, unless it falls on a weekend in which case the following Monday becomes a public holiday instead.

Australia Day has become the biggest annual civic event in Australia.

Australia Day Festivities:

There are events all across Australia on this day. Official ones are overseen by the National Australia Day Council which has an official council or committee in each state and territory. Outdoor concerts, community barbecues, sports competitions, festivals and fireworks are some of the many events held in communities across the country. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Australian of the Year Awards

The Australian of the Year Awards have become a notable part of the annual Australia Day celebrations. The official announcement has grown to become a public event witnessed by a crowd of thousands, and the ceremony is televised and very popular .

The recipients of this prestigious national award are announced in Canberra on Australia Day Eve the awards  ceremony takes place on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra. The awards go to four individuals who have made outstanding achievements. The categories are:

  • Australian of the Year
  • Senior Australian of the Year (those aged 65 years or over)
  • Young Australian of the Year (ages 16 to 30)
  • Australia’s Local Hero

Award recipients enjoy tea with the Prime Minister and lunch with the Governor General.


  • Sydney Harbour Bridge flag-raising

    The WugulOra Indigenous Ceremony marks the official beginning of Australia Day. The Aboriginal and Australian flags are raised on Sydney Harbour Bridge at 7.30 a.m. This enthralling event commences with the lighting of a symbolic fire and an Aboriginal dance performance at the Sydney Opera House. The fire is carried in bark canoes to the Tribal Warrior, an Aboriginal vessel, under Harbour Bridge. Fire from each of the tribes rises as the Aboriginal and Australian flags are raised, paying tribute to the nation’s diverse history.

  • Sydney Ferrython

    Sydney Harbour turns spectacular with Ferrython. This is one of Australia’s most popular (and free) events. The Australia Day race starts at 11am, when decorated commuter ferries leave from Circular Quay to to Shark Island and return to a glorious finish at the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Although the ferries don’t have passengers, the race can be seen from vantage points along the route. Premium areas are found around Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, and the Royal Botanic Gardens; so pack a picnic and gather on the foreshore to shout for your favourite ferry. Viewers also can also can get a birds eye view of the race from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of a special Ferryathon Bridge Climb

  • Salute to Australia

    The Salute to Australia is the ceremonial moment of the Sydney Harbour programme, with the Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force conducting a tri-service Salute. A spectacular 21-Gun Salute to Australia takes place at 12pm at Bradfield Park, under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Sydney-siders join together to sing the national anthem, led by synchronized choirs. Completing the grand ceremony is a breathtaking aerial display by the Royal Australian Air Force.

  • Australia Day Harbour Parade

    Starting at 12:45pm, Sydney Harbour is of vibrantly coloured vessels parading around the Harbour and finishing at Athol Bay. At 2pm, $2,000 in cash prizes are awarded for the Best Dressed Vessels.

  • Tall Ships Race

    Watch a spellbinding fleet of historic vessels cut their way across Sydney Harbour beginning at 1pm. Starting at Bradley’s Head, historic and charter vessels race their way down the harbour and back to Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

  • Australia Day Regatta

    The Australia Day Regatta is the oldest continuously-conducted annual sailing regatta in the world, has been conducted each year since 1837. It begins at 1:15pm, boats taking part range from large ocean-racing yachts to 18 foot skiffs and radio controlled model yachts. A second fleet of racing yachts racing to Botany Bay and back, competing for the City of Sydney Trophy. In recent years some 700 vessels have taken part in the Australia Day Regatta.

australia day regatta


Melbourne is the heart of Australia Day celebrations in Victoria. On Australia Day every year the city comes to life with a diverse and exciting range of events and activities to ignite national pride and unity, and to encourage a sense of community. The events attract hundreds of thousands of locals and visitors into Melbourne.

  • The Official Flag Raising Ceremony: 10.30am-11am, Melbourne Town Hall in Swanston Street. This ceremony marks the official beginning of the Australia Day programme. The Governor of Victoria gives an Australia Day Address, accompanied by the Royal Guard of Honour. Then the Premier of Victoria leads the public in the Australia Day Affirmation.
  • The Australia Day Parade: Starting straight after the flag raising ceremony, Admiring crowds line the streets, cheering on participants and waving flags and banners. The parade brings more than 100 community and cultural groups together to celebrate Australia Day. 
  • 21 Gun Salute: 12pm, Shrine of Remembrance, St. Kilda Road, by the 2nd/10th Light Battery.
  • Government House Open Day: 9.30am-4.30pm, Government House Drive. Visitors will be able to view the State Apartments, Private Apartments and the Governor’s Study; many of which are not usually open to the public.
  • The RACV Australia Day Picnic and Federation Vehicle Display: A classic car show starts at 10 am at Kings Domain Gardens. Over 450 vintage, veteran, and classic vehicles are on display in the gardens. At 3:30 they leave the gardens and parade through the streets. There are numerous free activities and entertainment including performances by children’s entertainers and a variety of food stalls.
  • Australia Day at Docklands: 4pm-11pm, NewQuay Piazza Docklands. The main stage boasts a stellar line up of great local talent, food trucks, a design festival, a fabulous fireworks display starts at 9.45pm and the Nova Dance party from 10pm.

Australia Day Melbourne


At The Parklands at South Bank in Brisbane, fireworks cap off a day of music, interactive art, and swimming.


The City of South Perth hosts a family friendly Australia Day celebration on the beautiful South Perth foreshore each year.

The day begins with a special Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony, which includes welcoming the City’s newest Australian citizens and the raising of the Australian flag.

The Celebration Zone kicks off in the afternoon, a smoke and alcohol free zone packed with free activities, rides and entertainment for all ages including pony and camel rides, a petting zoo, and a laser water show.

In the evening, all eyes turn to the beautiful Swan River, as at 8pm the City of Perth Skyworks display starts and the sky explodes into colour with Western Australia’s largest annual fireworks display.