Australia DayDLTK's Crafts for Kids
History of Australia Day

[Note:  Please note that I am Canadian and have gleaned this information second hand.  I've had lots of great contributions for viewers -- thanks guys!!]

Australians have a national holiday every January 26th to remember their origins and celebrate their achievements.


On January 26, 1788, a fleet of ships landed at what is now Sydney, Australia.  These ships were under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip and  had brought a load of prisoners from England.  The prisoners on the ships were not all criminals as we would think of them today.  Many of them were people who had been arrested because the government didn't like what they had to say.  And some were poor people who had been jailed because they owed money.  (More clarification...Thanks Nate!)

These prisoners were the first Europeans to settle in Australia.

Before 1783 (when the Americans won the Revolutionary War) many of Britain's unwanted criminals had been sent to the United States.

The desire to get rid of criminals was not the only motivation for colonizing Australia.  Botany Bay, Australia made a good port of call for British ships travelling in that part of the world.  Also, Australia's raw materials were an attractive reason for colonizing the country.


Since that time, millions more have chosen Australia as their home.  And wherever they are from, they all take part in celebrating Australia Day.

During the last weekend in January, Australians enjoy folk dances and music of the many national groups that make up their land.  These musicians and dancers appear in the oldest part of Sydney (called The Rocks) near the harbor where the first Europeans landed.

Captain Arthur Phillip's landing in the harbor is reenacted each year.

Here is some additional info sent in by a variety of viewers.  We found it really interesting to read a bit about what "real" Australians did on this day.

Thanks everyone!!

Hi, Jenny here from Tasmania, I just checked your Australia Day page and it is great of you to include it.  We spent our day at the local Australia Day Rodeo and it poured with rain literally bucketed down.  As we are on a farm and needed a rain break from the Summer heat and dryness it was very nice.

Just thought I would let you know that 2001 is the Centenary of Australia's Federation. 100 years ago our forefathers made our constitution and we became a country of the Commonwealth not a colony of Britain.  Australia Day is becoming more a day of celebration as time passes but it currently has a mixed response as Australia gradually recognizes that those of British decent weren't the first Australians.  The Aborigines see Australia Day as a sad day of invasion.  I think with the passing of time a new day may evolve which is more amicable to all.

G'day Mate,

Well, what a beaut site you have here it's a real bonza! Pop over and throw a few snags & chops on the barbie, knock a few coldies down, bring the softies for the ankle bitters, blonk your butt and have a natter, it will be a ripper of a day....

You li'le beauty...
See ya mate


Hello, Leanne,
Well you have a really great site and it's terrific. Come on over and through a few sausages and lamb chops on the BBQ, have a few cold beers, wine or alcohol, bring the pop for the children, sit down and have a great will be the best of days,

A terrific friend,

The Aussie Day BBQ is a great thing and a very old tradition here.  The main focus is a breakfast.  We all get up very early and either have our own family get together breckie or lots of communities have a central one that can be attended like at a local park, Footy oval etc.  At central ones where most of the community attend there are usually bands playing and every body receives a native Australian Shrub (baby tree) to keep and plant to help regenerate the Community.
Do you have much info on Aussie Slang ?  We seem to have our own language within a language here.  Some visitors from other countries really have no idea what we are talking about sometimes and because it is normal speech for us we tend to forget it must sound completely silly to someone else.  I think one of the more well known terms is G'day which means hello, No Worries-it'll be right, no problem, there is so many really that you don't really see them as slang because we grow up knowing what it means.
There is also Vegimite a spread for toast very popular and eaten by most of the population it is one of our national symbols practically!
I hope to see this section grow it would be fantastic.

In our area for Australia Day there is a huge regatta held on the local landmark known to all as 'the lake'.  Local charities set up barbecues and many families bring along a picnic etc for the day.  Local groups from the wonderful "firies" build rafts from anything including empty cans and have races on the lake.

Else where in Australia (up in the Northern Territory) the locals don't usually have rivers to run these type of competitions on they make boats up and people run along carrying the boat in teams, the first team around the marker and back to the start win the Race.

At the Pre-School we make rafts from popsicle sticks and glue and paper sails and float them on our water trough, we occasionally make "power" boats from milk cartons (the cardboard type) and balloons to power the boats and race them through the troughs.  The older pre-schoolers enjoy decorating their boats making masts etc that are held in with a little plasticine and adding lego people to 'drive' their boats.

We have also used large boxes that the children decorate to run races the way Northern Territorians do.  The children usually end up in a huge giggling pile.


Australia Day is often celebrated with firework displays and flag waving.  Often there will be pageants about the first fleet landing acted out and parades.  I guess it is a day where patriotism runs riot, songs are sung and the nation draws together. Much like the US 4th of July. Crafts and activities of the day could include the making of damper, making a swagman's hat (simply tie corks around the brim of a floppy hat), make small Australian flags and attach them to sticks, act out the landing of the first fleet and of course sing all the Australian great songs.


Did you know...
The capital of Australia is Canberra, not Sydney, as most people think. Canberra is located within the state of New South Wales (NSW) in its own territory called the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).  It's like Washington in Washington DC within Maryland.


Sport in Australia is huge...almost a religion.  Cricket, rugby and especially Aussie rules football are the most popular. Australian kids love to play these games and worship local sporting heroes, people like Don Bradman (cricket) and James Hird (footy).  Being from Victoria ( birthplace of AFL) I know more about AFL then rugby.  Rugby is played mainly in New South Wales and Queensland, Cricket is everywhere and AFL is popular in all states but is the only game in Victoria during footy season.  The 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney are also a big part of Australian sporting culture.

I don't know how much you know about AFL.  But I thought it might be useful to include in your page.  Good sites to look at would be: (it has links to all the AFL / and information) and, the Australian cricket website.


Another viewer wrote...

I live in Perth, which is the capital of Western Australia.  Each year we have a huge fireworks exhibition set to music on the evening of the 26th. Thousands of people line the banks of the Swan River (this is the river that runs through Perth) from the early afternoon and wait for the fireworks in the early evening. Most people meet with groups of friends and have BBQ and play cricket while waiting for the show.  It is a really big event in Perth and one radio station actually counts down the days until the "Skyshow" before Christmas.

BBQ's are very big here at this time of year as the temperature is usually between 32-39 degrees C. T-shirts, thongs & shorts are the standard dress as is the hat and zinc cream on the nose.

Like many American families. Aussie kids grow up on a mixture of foods from different cultures. But the firm favourites are Vegemite (yeast based spread) and Milo (chocolate drinking powder which you add to milk) - some kids even eat Milo sandwiches.

Nate wrote....

While I love your bits on Australia, informative and interesting!  Found a little mistake though.

Captain Cook first discovered Australia and landed in Botany Bay in 1770.

Captain Arthur Philip arrived in 1788, Jan 26 which is what we celebrate but he arrived in Botany Bay earlier in the year but found no fresh water.  This is not so good when you have just traveled for 9 months or so in a boat full of "convicts". (If you go to Botany Bay now you can understand, its not particularly nice!") So he upped anchor and went around the corner and discovered what is now Sydney Harbour.  He landed up near where the opera house now is...  And the rest is a glorious history. 

Another viewer added...

James Cook named a part of Australia 'NEW SOUTH WALES' on April 29th 1770 in honor of King George III.

Rebecca wrote...

Did you know? ...  Australia is the only place in the world that has two kinds of mammals that actually lay eggs!!! The platypus and the echidna.

Carolyn wrote...

Just to add....  Australia Day for me starts with a BBQ breakfast at the local town square, where a bush band sings traditional colonial songs - the Anthem, "We are one" and "Waltzing Matilda".  Everyone wears something "Australian" or waves a flag. Then it's off to the beach for the rest of the day.  I love this country!!!   

I work with children and we spend the week leading up to Australia Day singing those songs, colouring in flags and maps, and sharing what we think is Australian. The best part? I have approximately 20 cultures represented in my class. We have a multicultural affair.

Maretta wrote...

Hi...  Hope you dont mind but I thought I would stop by and mention a couple of things about Australia Day and crafts that the kindergartens and schools do here in Australia. We have heaps of nationalities here...  But there is still a general white 'English' even 'American' train of thought in most schools. Although true to form most Australians claim to vote Labour, deny being religious and apparently attempt to break all beer drinking and car collecting records (broken down cars lol).

I've only lived in two states.....  But what I mention is relevant Australia wide.

Australia Day is about sporting events and the Australian flag. Oh and the beach. Sport, flag, beach. Yes we are that shallow. (lol)  More recently a lot of Australian Aboriginal art has been included and celebrated. The Aboriginal people sometimes feel it is a bad day because it is the day the white man came...  But more and more of them are sharing their music and dance and art.  I guess as much as possible getting us to appreciate that being Australian is many things.

Australia Day is the last big long weekend before school begins for the year. So people go to sporting events (it is summer) the beach and visit family and friends. Sport and the beach are huge. Painting your face with the flag is big especially when going to major events like the tennis and cricket. You will find photos on the net...  But basically a dark blue face with the union jack on one cheek and stars in the other places.

We don't really make crafts (specifically for Australia Day) as far as I know because of school being out. But our schools do make digeridoo, clap sticks (you can paint two sticks and there you go) and boomerangs as all are taught more and more about the native population. The Aboriginal people here "clap" their boomerangs together traditionally ...  They don't do a drum as such in any of their culture. The kids have fun making and decorating boomerangs.  I guess my kids have had a go at making a tall ship (the convict ships) when they touch on our history.

Other crafts made at school are the usual holidays: Easter, mothers and fathers day, Christmas and even Halloween. But no one trick or treats. No...  Not anyone. But who could resist pumpkins and scary movies?

We do have "clean up Australia Day" and plant a tree day. The children clean up river banks, school gardens (even playgrounds) and plant trees on National Tree Day. So that is a bit limited for craft isnt it? lol

Now you are probably totally confused....  I will say that because we are largely a dry continent and we enjoy beaches ....  Well our kids make a lot of desert and ocean pictures, 3D (in a shoebox) diaramas of desert and ocean (remember we have the Great Barrier Reef here too) using cellophane and tonnes of sticky tape (lol).

Amanda added...

"One thing we do on Australia Day is play a game of cricket.  On the BBQ we eat steak, sausages and lamb."

Chilli wrote...

"As an Australian on Australia Day it is summer in January this is our hottest time of the year 38C + it is hot and we need to cover up for the afternoon while waiting for our fantastic "sky shows" to start. The sky shows are fireworks or crackers set off to the sound of music. Most people come together and yell "Happy Australia Day" to each other. People walk around with the Australian flag in hand.  The occasional cars toot and have flags attached.  It is the one time that most people are super friendly to total strangers.  In the thousands we sit at advantage points all around our cities to have a good view positions for the fireworks and we have to be there many hours before they start of the shows just to get these best spots.

A craft to make.
Make a large cardboard hat to cover our faces from the sun before sunset about 8 o'clock p.m.  Or later depending where one lives and when the "sky shows" start.  The crowds are in there thousands and we don't want the hats too big.  Our colours are blue and white as on our flag.  Or some people use our Australian sports colours of yellow and mid green.

I hope this is helpful.

Cheers mate! "