Australia Day is on January 26 and commemorates the establishment of the first European settlement at Port Jackson, now part of Sydney, in 1788. It is an opportunity for Australians to come together to celebrate their country and culture. There are reflections on the achievements of the nation and explorations of way to make the country even better in the future.

• The first recorded Australia Day celebrations were held on January 26, 1808 to mark twenty years since Captain Arthur Phillip raised the flag at Sydney Cove.

• Lachlan Macquarie was the first Australian Governor to hold the first “official” Australia Day celebrations in 1818, to mark thirty years of European settlement. The celebrations included a thirty gun salute and a ball at Government House.

• The two animals featured on the Australian coat of arms are the Emu and the Kangaroo – the reason for this being that neither animal can walk backwards, but instead can always go forwards, symbolising Australia’s desire to do the same.

  • Foundation Day was Australia’s first public holiday in 1838. By 1888, January 26 had become known as Anniversary Day. It was celebrated across all states, except Adelaide.
  • It wasn’t until the end of the second world war in 1946 that Australia Day was held across all states of Australia.

Other very interesting facts:

  • Captain James Cook first landed on Australia’s east coast in 1770. In 1788, the British returned with eleven ships to establish a penal colony. Within days of this arrival and the raising of the British flag, two French ships arrived, just too late to claim Australia for France.
  • Australia is the 6th largest country in the world.
  • The only Nation-Continent with only a population of just over 20 million.
  • It was in 1912 that the WATTLE was adopted as the national floral emblem.
  • More than 80 percent of Australians live within 100 kilometres of the coast making Australia one of the world’s most urbanised coastal dwelling populations. The heat might have something to do with that.
  • Over 200 different languages and dialects are spoken in Australia.
  • Approximately 1.35 trillion bottles of wine are produced by Australia.
  • Melbourne topped 140 rivals to be crowned the world’s most liveable city 2 years in a row since 2011.