Holidays in Australia

Public holidays in Australia are declared on a state and territory basis, though several holidays are observed in all states and territories, and are therefore de facto national holidays.

New Year – New Year’s Day is celebrated on 1 January each year in all states and territories.

Australia Day – Australia Day is Australia’s national day celebrated on 26 January annually in all states and territories. 26 January was chosen because it is the day of the establishment of the first English settlement at Port Jackson by Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788.

Labour Day – Labour Day commemorates the achievements of the Australian labour movement. The celebration of Labour Day has its origins in the eight hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. The Labour Day public holiday varies considerably between the various states and territories. It is the first Monday in October in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and South Australia. In both Victoria and Tasmania, it is the second Monday in March. In Western Australia, Labour Day is the first Monday
in March. In both Queensland and the Northern Territory, it is the first Monday in May.

Easter – The days of Easter vary each year depending on the day determined by the Western Christian religious calendar. For the basis of how the days are determined see Easter. Queensland only refers to “The day after Good Friday (Easter Saturday)”.

Anzac Day – Anzac Day is a day on which the country remembers those citizens who fell fighting or who served the country in wars. Anzac Day is commemorated on 25 April every year. The tradition began to remember the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) soldiers who landed at Gallipoli in Turkey during World War I.

Queen’s Birthday – In all states and territories except Western Australia, Queen’s Birthday is observed on the second Monday in June. On that day the “Queen’s Birthday honours list” is released naming new members of the Order of Australia and other Australian honours. This occurs on the date observed in the Eastern States, not the date observed in Western Australia. The Queen’s Birthday weekend and Empire Day, 24 May, were long the traditional times for public fireworks displays in Australia. Although they still occur, the tradition has recently been overshadowed by larger New Year’s Eve fireworks, as the sale of fireworks to the public was progressively banned by the states in the 1980s. The sale of fireworks in the Australian Capital Territory was also banned on 24 August 2009.

Christmas – Christmas is observed on 25 December each year to commemorate the birth of Jesus. In Australia it was brought over as a matter of course with white English settlement in 1788. Though a Christian religious festival it does not breach the constitution’s separation of Church and State provision, because it is declared under State law, which is not subject to the provision.

Boxing Day – Boxing Day is on the day after Christmas, ie. 26 December each year, except in South Australia. In South Australia, the first otherwise working day after Christmas is a public holiday called Proclamation Day. Boxing Day is noted for the start of the post-Christmas sale season. The day has also become a significant sporting day. Melbourne hosts the Boxing Day Test Match and the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race which also starts on this day.