Australia Day, the 26th of January, is the anniversary of the foundation of the British colony at Sydney, New South Wales, in 1788. In early years it was commemorated as the First Landing, then as Anniversary Day, then as Foundation Day. It was also known as ANA Day, due to the widespread campaigning by the Australian Natives’ Association for the day to be celebrated as a national holiday.
As an aside, it should be noted that during the First World War (1914-1918), when the 26th of January was commonly known as Foundation Day, an “Australia Day” was held in July, as a patriotic fundraising day (there were also various other wartime fundraising days, such as “Belgium Day”). This day, or event, was not connected with the founding of Australia, although it used the same name as the national day which is celebrated in modern times.
Australia Day, as the commemoration of the nation’s founding, used to be celebrated with a public holiday on the Monday closest to the 26th of January, creating a long weekend for the public. Nowadays, the Australia Day public holiday is celebrated on the day it falls upon; although, if the day falls on a weekend, then an extra day’s holiday is given on the Monday following the weekend.
Australia Day is an opportunity for all Australians to celebrate their national heritage.
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A list is provided here, in chronological order, of various articles regarding Australia Day:
1813: Notice [23 January 1813]
A brief public notice, advertising a Commemoration Dinner (for the anniversary of the founding of the colony of New South Wales).
1817: [Anniversary Day 1817] [1 February 1817]
A report on a dinner party held “for the purpose of celebrating the Anniversary of the Institution of this Colony under Governor Philip, which took place on the 26th of Jan. 1788”.
1817: Song: To the Tune of Rule Britannia
A song, written by a Mr. Jenkins, sung at a function to celebrate the founding of the colony of New South Wales.
1818: Government and General Orders [plans for an Australia Day celebration, 24 January 1818]
An announcement of the plans to celebrate the 30th anniversary.
1818: Sydney [Australia Day celebration, thirtieth anniversary, 31 January 1818]
An report on the celebrations held in Sydney for the 30th anniversary.
1818: [The Anniversary of the Formation of the Colony of New South Wales] [Australia Day celebration, 14 February 1818]
A Tasmanian report on the celebrations held in Sydney. It concluded “We have no doubt but the return of such An Auspicious day will in future be celebrated throughout the Territory And its Dependencies.”
1820: Song, for the Commemoration Dinner, January 26, 1820 [song by Michael Massey Robinson, 5 February 1820]
The text of a song, by Michael Massey Robinson, written for the anniversary of the founding of the colony of New South Wales.
1825: Anniversary meeting [including a song by Michael Massey Robinson, 3 February 1825]
A report on a dinner party held to celebrate the founding of NSW. Includes a song, by Michael Massey Robinson, and a reference to the toast “The land, boys, we live in”.
1826: [Anniversary Day 1826] [2 February 1826]
A brief mention of a dinner party held to celebrate “the anniversary day of the first landing and founding of the Colony”.
1827: [Australia’s Birth-day] [song, 3 February 1827]
A song written for the celebration of the founding of New South Wales.
1829: [News items] [10 January 1829]
A brief mention: “The Anniversary of the Foundation of the Colony will be commemorated by the usual Dinner, at Cummings’ hotel on the 26th instant”.
1836: The Lansdowne Bridge [21 January 1836]
A report on the completion of the Lansdowne Bridge, due to be opened on 26 January 1836, being the 48th anniversary of the founding of the colony of New South Wales.
1836: [Anniversary Day 1836] [21 January 1836]
A brief item suggesting that there should be a public dinner to commemorate the founding of the colony of New South Wales.
1836: [News items] [28 January 1836]
A brief article lamenting the lack of a public dinner, although it mentions a naval gun salute for the occasion.
1838: The Jubilee [29 January 1838]
An article on the celebration in Sydney for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the colony of New South Wales.
1864: [The return of the 26th January] [26 January 1864]
An article on the celebration of Foundation Day.
1873: The Future of Australia [poem by Mary Hannay Black, 8 February 1873]
A poem by Mary Hannay Black (later known as Mary Hannay Foott), written on 26 January 1873, for the anniversary of the founding of the colony of New South Wales.
1875: [The anniversary of the birthday of the colony] [26 January 1875]
An article about Anniversary Day.
1875: Anniversary Regatta [26 January 1875]
An article about the upcoming Anniversary Day regatta.
1896: Summary of news [17 November 1896]
A brief mention, regarding a sub-committee of the Perth and Fremantle Chambers of Commerce recommending that January 26 be omitted from the list of public holidays.
1903: Australia [Australia Day celebration, 2 February 1903]
An article about an Anniversary Day celebration.
1908: Anniversary Day [27 January 1908]
An article about the significance of Anniversary Day.
1910: Foundation Day [Australia Day, 26 January 1910]
Historical background of Foundation Day. Information on the park at Kurnell (regarding “Captain Cook’s Landing-place”).
1938: Australia’s progress: Tributes from London: Nation’s future. [27 January 1938]
Republication of an article from The Times (London, UK), reporting on the progress made by the Australian nation, on the 150th anniversary of its foundation.
1942: Australia Day [26 January 1942]
An editorial on Australia Day, written during the Second World War (1939-1945).
1949: Nationalism rising in Australia [27 January 1949]
An article about Australia Day; Arthur Calwell criticizes those who call it “Anniversary Day” instead of “Australia Day”.