Celebrating Australia Day

Australia Day is celebrated on January 26 and is a day to reflect what it means to be Australian. An important date in Australia’s history, the reason for celebration has changed over time. The celebration was first started for emancipated convicts and evolved into what is now a celebration of Australia that reflects the nation’s diverse people. Early almanacs began referring to January 26 as “First Landing Day” or “Foundation Day”. It was acknowledged as an official public holiday in 1804 by Governor Macquarie.

There are three elements to the Australian flag, of which are all displayed on a blue background and share equal importance. The first element is the Union Jack. The Union Jack acknowledges the history of British Settlement. Below the Union Jack is the flag’s second element; the Commonwealth star. It has seven points of which six points represent the unity of six states, and the seventh point indicates the territories of the Commonwealth of Australia. The third element, the Southern Cross, is shown on the fly of the flag in white. This element represents the constellation of 5 stars which can only be seen from Australia’s southern hemisphere.

Australia Flag

Here are some fun facts about Australia:

There are 3 times as many sheep than people living in Australia.

In 2005, the government issued a ban on saying the word ‘mate’ at Parliament House. The ban lasted 24 hours before it was overturned.

Over 200 different languages and dialects are spoken in Australia.

Despite being a massive continent, 90% of Australia’s population live on the coast due to the majority of the interior being a vast desert.

Australia has a larger population of camels than Egypt.

Australia, as a name, comes from the Latin terra australis incognita meaning “unknown southern land”.

Voting in elections, if you are over 18, is mandatory. Otherwise, an initial fine of $72 is issued. Despite this, only around 81% of eligible voters cast their vote.

Australia was the second country in the world to give women the right to vote in 1902 (New Zealand being the first).

The first Police Force in Australia was made up of the most well-behaved convicts.

Australia is the only continent without an active volcano.

Australia Flag

The Australian flag came into being on January 1, 1901 after the federation of the Australian States into the Commonwealth of Australia. The Commonwealth Blue Ensign was decided upon as a result of a competition from the public. And even though it was selected in 1901 and gazetted in 1903, it did not receive Royal assent and adoption until 1954 in the Flags Act of 1953.

australia flag

The current Australia Flag consists of three components:

  • The Union Jack is in the upper left part of the flag which represents Australia’s historical link to Great Britain.
  • The Southern Cross is in the second quarter and fourth quarter of the flag. The stars represent the Southern Cross constellation which is a significant navigational feature of the southern hemisphere.
  • The Commonwealth Star or Star of Federation is the star central in the third quarter of the flag. The seven points of the star designate the six states and the combined territories of the Commonwealth.

Each of the six states of Australia has their own official state flag; the common feature being a blue ensign defaced with the badge of the state. The flags of the territories are more unique and individual in nature and they don’t have the blue ensign background like the states.

There are other flags in Australia besides the “official” flag:

  • The Queen’s Personal Flag for Australia
  • The Govern General’s Flag
  • The Eureka Flag
  • The Republican Movement
  • The Flag of Aboriginal Australia

According to the Australian government, “The Australian National Flag is Australia’s foremost national symbol. It was first flown in 1901 and has become an expression of Australian identity and pride.

The Australian National Flag flies over the federal and state parliaments. The flag is paraded by our defence forces and displayed around the country at sporting events and by service organisations, schools, community groups and private citizens.”