Australian Official Public Holidays (2018)
New Year’s Day, Monday 1 January 2018:
A novelty for Northern Hemisphere visitors, New Year’s Day falls in the height of the dazzling Australian summer. The languid sun-drenched stretch between Christmas Eve- 1st January is when many people take their summer holidays to relax with family. Many Aussies leave the big cities and head to beachside towns. Locations such as Byron Bay, Noosa and The Sunshine Coast surge in population during this time. Bach barbeques, beach volleyball, forest picnics and seaside strolls are luxurious traditions for many families making the most of the vacation and is certainly an advantage if your New Year’s resolution tends to include cultivating a healthier lifestyle
Australia Day, Friday 26th January 2018:
Australia’s official National Day celebrates all that it means to be Australian and to live in such a beautiful country. The day is the anniversary of when the First Fleet of British ships arrived in Port Jackson, New South Wales and raised the Flag of Great Britain over Sydney Cove. Australians are justifiably proud of their country and the opportunities it offers. This three day weekend falls in the height of their infamous scorching summer and a trip the beach would be obligatory for many Australians. This is also an occasion to reflect on Australia’s evolving identity: Aborigine and Torres Strait Islanders still have not been fully compensated for colonial resettlement and the unknown legal status of many refugees seeking asylum in Australia sparks national debate around this time calling into question Australia’s values of freedom, fairness and equal opportunity. Australia’s position as a political and economic leader in the Asia-Oceanic region make its ever changing culture and status a topic of great political significance.
Good Friday, Easter Saturday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Friday 30 March- Monday 2 April 2018, (Easter Tuesday- Tuesday 3 April, Tasmania only):
Australia is a secular country with a Christian heritage. Good Friday commemorates the day Jesus died. All states except Western Australia and Tasmania also celebrate Easter Saturday. Easter Sunday celebrates Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven. Shops and businesses close on Good Friday and Easter Sunday to observe this period in the Holy Roman Calendar. Easter Monday is always a public holiday and this gives Australians a four day weekend to savour. Tasmania celebrates Easter Tuesday rather than Sunday, which makes this an extended holiday in their state. Easter is determined by the lunar calendar and therefore falls on different dates each year. It is always during autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, which is pleasant and mild. Hiking can be a good way to take in the resplendent shades of orange, gold and amber as the weather turns. The Blue Mountains walks are a dramatic example of this but needs to be booked far in advance. To avoid the cooler climate at this time of year, the Thorsborne Trail in Queensland or The Fraser Island Great walk skirting Lake Mackenzie will still be lush and warm.
ANZAC Day, Wednesday 25th April 2018:
This day falls on April 25th each year. It has been ‘Monday-ised’ which means it is always a public holiday even if it falls on the weekend. ANZAC is an acronym for Australian New Zealand Army Corps and is a remembrance day to pay respects to soldiers who have served Australian in the armed forces. The day recognises the devastating sacrifice made by allied troops in the battle of Gallipoli, 1914. Australians commemorate the day by attending poignant dawn services around the country, with the largest held at Sydney’s Martin Place Cenotaph and the official ceremony outside the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. It is customary to donate a gold coin for a red poppy to wear as an emblem. These donations go towards caring for returned veterans.
Queen’s Birthday, Monday 4th June 2018 (Celebrated 1st October in Queensland):
Although Australia is a sovereign state, The Queen is still the official Head of State and Australia a member of the Commonwealth. The Queen’s actual birthday is April 21st, but the holiday is delayed to make the most of the Northern Hemisphere summer. As such, this day falls on the first Monday in June. It is a legacy from Britain where the monarch awards her subjects a day off to celebrate summer festivities. The Prime Minister compiles a list of birthday honours and the Queen formally extends honours on this day to recognise those who have made an extraordinary contribution to society. People enjoy this day by getting away for a long weekend, heading to the pub to watch the rugby, or getting together with family to serve a roast lamb on a chilly winter’s evening.
Labour Day, Monday 1 October 2018 (Celebrated Monday 7 May in Queensland):
Labour Day falls on the first Monday in October, except for Queensland where it is celebrated in May. Labour Day acknowledges the work of labour unions to secure fair rights for workers and is synonymous with the eight hours movement, which argued for eight hours work, eight hours for recreation and eight hours for rest. Appropriately, Labour Day is a day without labour and Australians enjoy a three day weekend. This is a beautiful time in the Australian spring. Daylight saving has begun and long days sprawl into balmy evenings. Please note, Queensland does not observe daylight saving time which is one of the reasons their holidays follow a slightly different schedule). It is the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends for a glass of chilled Yarra Valley pinot gris. Sea temperatures are still cool but a trip to the beach is a possibility. Horse riding and coastal walks are another way to advantage of this little holiday offering the first hint of the much anticipated Australian summer.
Melbourne Cup Day, Tuesday 6th November 2018:
This festive day is synonymous with glamour, champagne as socialising as Victorians head to the horse races. The event is held at the Flemington Race Course and is Australia’s most prestigious thoroughbred horse race. The day is only a public holiday for those in the state of Victoria, but the race captures an audience of over 650 million people worldwide. Many offices across Australia stop work early so people can gather to enjoy the race.
Christmas Day, Boxing Day Tuesday 25th- Wednesday 26th December 2018:
Christmas Day on the 25th December signals the end of the working year. Aussies breathe a sigh of relief as they leave the office and head to summer baches for the stretch between Christmas and New Year. As with many nations, Christmas has been heavily commercialised, and Christmas Eve and Boxing Day advertise big sales. However, Christmas Day itself offers a precious opportunity to relax with family by the beach. In typical antipodean style, Australians have made this wintry Northern Hemisphere tradition their own. Fishing, cricket, poolside parties and barbeques commemorate this festive and sunny holiday. Most people take their annual leave between Christmas and New Year and town centres become quiet during this time.