On January 26, the country celebrates Australia Day, which commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet, when Captain Arthur Phillip brought a boatload of prisoners to Sydney to begin colonization. The landing is re-enacted in Sydney harbour, and cannons are fired. On this day, most Australians have picnics and play cricket or get together for special meals. In the evening, there are fireworks.

 April 25, ANZAC Day, commemorates the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps in Gallipoli, Turkey, in 1915, during the First World War. The holiday honours all those who served and died in both World Wars. The Australian Prime Minister usually goes to Turkey to participate in commemorative events. There are sunrise services at war memorials, as well as ceremonies in schools and military parades.

Christmas, sometimes called "Chrissie," occurs during the long summer vacation. Most Christmas celebrations are held outdoors because of the summery weather. On Christmas cards Santa Claus is sometimes depicted dressed in a bathing suit. Australians may decorate their houses with ferns and Christmas bells, which are reddish-orange blossoms. Families gather to exchange gifts at breakfast, attend a church service and enjoy Christmas dinner at noon. Special Christmas dishes include roast meat, cold cuts, salads and seafood. The remainder of the day is usually spent at the beach or the park and may include a picnic supper.

 Aborigines do not observe designated holidays, but periodically hold corroborees. They collect wood for a large fire and find an open place near water and trees. They draw and paint designs in the dirt. The men dress up in feathers and animal and snake skins and paint their bodies. When everyone is ready, the women, children and elderly sit in a big circle. They clap their hands, making a drum-like sound. Some beat boomerangs together as the men chant and dance.

  Did you know?

Each August, an unusual race is held in the Outback near Alice Springs. It is called the Henley-on-Todd boat race. Because water is rarely found in the Todd River, racers must carry their boats along the dry riverbed.

January 1

New Year’s Day

January 26

Australia Day

March or April

Good Friday, Easter, Easter Monday

April 25


2nd Monday in June

Queen's Birthday

December 25


December 26

Boxing Day

  Did you know?

Every year, people in the city of Darwin hold a competition in which participants build a boat able to stay afloat, using only aluminum beer cans. Prizes are given for seaworthiness and creativity.