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Holiday Guides for Oceania - Australia

In Oz for Australia Day

In Oz for Australia Day

On January 26th 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip's First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove and established the Colony of New South Wales. Then, in 1818, on the 30th anniversary of the 'first landing' or 'foundation day', Governor Macquarie recklessly decided that the occasion was so momentous that government workers should be given a holiday - and soon everyone was following suit. In 1946 the Commonwealth and State governments moved to unify the country-wide celebrations and created 'Australia Day', to be held on the Monday closest to January 26th. From 1994 all states and territories have taken the Australia Day public holiday on January 26th.

Why, though, would tourists wish to attend what can surely only be a bloated outpouring of nationalism? After all, Australians are well-known for their propensity to shove their supposed greatness down other people's throats - as witnessed during India's cricket tour to Oz this (Australian) summer. However, Brits be reassured - we can travel to Australia in good heart. We will be able to fight back gloriously if quizzed on England's deficiencies in the cricket sphere, or the failure of Andy Murray to progress past the first round of the Australian Open. We'll even be able to defend the fact that our football team failed to qualify for the European Championship - all because we dumped the Aussies out of the Rugby World Cup in France last year.

What, then, have Brits who plan to fly to Australia for Australia Day got to look forward to? Fireworks lovers should probably head to Perth, as the Perth Lotterywest Skyworks display is billed as the largest Australia Day celebration in the country - in 2006, around 500,000 people lined the banks of the river to watch the display. The music scene is also vibrant on the day of the national holiday, with the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown taking place - which determines the country's favourite song of the year - and in Canberra the Australia Day Live Concert is held.

The concert in Canberra also features the announcement of the Australian of the Year. Last year Professor Tim Flannery, famous for his views on shutting down conventional coal fired power stations for electricity generation, was declared the winner, while previous recipients have included cricketer Steve Waugh, Olympic athlete Cathy Freeman and tennis player Evonne Goolagong. Aussies and tourists alike are also treated to an address by the prime minister, which is presumably like the Queen's speech only delivered by someone less important.

Of course, Brits don't have to go to Australia specifically for Australia Day - it remains a great holiday location with unique wildlife, pristine beaches, stunning cities and glorious weather. And now we can all enjoy it more given that we no longer have to hang our heads in shame…