The national day
, held on January 26
. As a public holiday
it is tradionally marked by people heading off to the beach for a swim, BBQ
and a game of cricket and not noding at home
On January 26 1788 Captain Arthur Phillip unfurled the British flag at Sydney Cove and proclaimed British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia. Thirty years later Governor Macquarie held the first official celebrations on that day as 'Foundation Day'. From that point January 26 remained the focal day in the Australian calendar, although it wasn't until 1946 that all states and territories chose to observe one national holiday on the same day under the same banner.
Some people would think that the day the states of Australia formed to become a federation would be more relevant, while others prefer to call the day 'Invasion Day', giving more prominence to the displacement and injustice suffered by the indigenous population.
Historian Manning Clarke noted that in 1808 the "anniversary of the foundation of the colony" was observed in the traditional manner with "drinking and merriment". Governor Macquarie officiated during his day with a thirty-gun salute and a dinner ball at Government House. On Sydney harbour a regatta has been held continuously on the 26 January since 1836, now called the Australia Day Regatta. In the nineteenth century Australia Day would be celebrated with ceremonies, parades, exhibitions, fireworks, banquets and church services. In more modern times, Australia Day now includes
concerts, citizenship ceremonies, the presentation of the Australian of the Year awards and the broadcasting of the Hottest 100 on Triple J.
India's national day is also on January 26, which presents a small problem for diplomatic protocol in determining whose celebrations a potentate should attend. Nikita Khrushchev was compelled to the India National Day celebrations since that country was seen as less antagonistic to the Soviet Union, but on one occasion he sneaked into the Australian embassy's own party to get something the Indians couldn't provide - a decent drink.