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A guide to Australian public holidays (and how to celebrate)

4 minute read
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Australia has several public holidays throughout the year. This means people have the day off work or study, and there are often special events held around the country.

Here’s your guide to key holidays in Australia, and how to commemorate the occasion.

New Year’s Day

1st January

While New Year’s Eve is the night most Australians celebrate with parties, public events and fireworks at midnight to mark the new year, the official public holiday falls on New Year’s Day, the 1st of January.

The public holiday break is movable, meaning that if the 1st of January falls on a weekend, the public holiday is shifted to the Monday. For many Australians, New Year’s Day is spent recovering from the night before or travelling back from summer holiday destinations.

Australia Day

26th January

Australia Day commemorates the anniversary of the first fleet from Britain arriving in Sydney Cove. The public holiday always occurs on 26 January, and is a day filled with events – from fireworks to backyard barbeques, festivals and boat races.

While a walk into the capital city will provide plenty of ideas for things to do, you can also check out your state’s “What’s On” pages for a comprehensive list of events.

Easter

The date of this holiday changes from year to year

With time off work from Good Friday to Easter Monday, Eastertime makes for an easy four-day weekend. Given Easter often falls over the school holidays, it’s a popular time for holidays away, so if you plan to travel, book accommodation well in advance.

Many choose to attend a church service over Easter, the most common being held on Good Friday morning and Easter Sunday morning. Catholic, Anglican, Uniting Church, Presbyterian and Baptist are the largest Christian denominations in Australia, and most towns have at least one church you can visit.

Note: not all States have the weekend days off, so you may need to book these days off well in advance if you are working.

Source: Quasar Advisory Services

ANZAC Day

25th April

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and the public holiday is in remembrance of the soldiers who have fought and died for their countries. Anzac Day is held on the anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign of the First World War. As well as celebrating the honour of soldiers, this day also acknowledges the qualities that Australia has established for itself including courage, mateship, skill and perseverance.

There are numerous events held all over Australia, the most popular being the Dawn Service. These are held in historical spots across Australia and are usually heavily attended by Aussies and visitors to our country. The Dawn Service includes a commemorative address, laying of wreaths and observance of one minute’s silence. There are also marches held across the country.

Christmas and Boxing Day

25th and 26th December

Christmas is celebrated in a number of ways in Australia – from singing carols by candlelight in local parks to outdoor barbecues with plenty of fresh seafood. Churches also offer well-attended services in most towns and cities on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Boxing day, the day after Christmas, is also a public holiday. This is also the day many shoppers get their bargain hunting on, with most retailers having massive Boxing Day sales. It’s also a big day for sports fans, with the Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race starting at noon in Sydney and the Boxing Day Test beginning its five-day run.

Queen’s Birthday

The date of this holiday changes from year to year

Despite being born on 21 April, we celebrate the Queen’s Birthday in Australia on varying dates throughout the year depending on which state you live in. The Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List is proclaimed in June each year and includes people who have received the Order of Australia and other special honours.

This long weekend is a popular time for a mini-holiday, so book travel and accommodation well in advance. It also marks the official launch of the snow season in regions of New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

For a complete list of Australian Public Holidays for your local area, visit Australia.gov.au

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Are you going to be working while in Australia? Find out more about our working visitor cover options here.

For more information about all things Australia, visit the dedicated Life in Australia section of The Check Up.

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