Australia Day

Hi Skwirkers! Coming up on the 26th of January is Australia Day. Skwirk explores Australia Day to help develop students’ understanding of its history and customs.

Jump on to the Skwirk Facebook page to tell us about your favourite Australia Day classroom activities.

History

Australia day commemorates the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove on the 26th January, 1788. The First Fleet arrived on 11 ships, with about 1000 people on board. The fleet was sent to Australia to start a colony. This colony was made up primarily of prisoners. These prisoners committed mostly petty crimes such as stealing a loaf of bread or fraud.

The first ‘official’ Australia Day was held in 1801 by Governor Lachlan Macquarie to mark 30 years of European settlement.

How do people celebrate?

Australia Day is a nationwide public holiday. It is celebrated across the country with official and unofficial events and firework displays. Some people host barbeques, others play a round of cricket and others go to the beach. A lot of people also like to dress up on Australia Day with clothes that have the Australian flag on them.

Australia Day or Invasion Day?

When Captain Cook landed in Australia he declared the land ‘Terra Nullius’, which means land belonging to no one. Cook decided that because of the way the Aboriginal people lived it was not their land. The Aboriginal people did not show their ownership with fences or markers, like people in Europe. Cook decided that the British could colonise. This decision led to Australia’s Indigenous people losing all their rights to the land. The fight for land rights is still going on today. This is why some Aboriginal people chose not to celebrate Australia day as it was the day the Europeans took their land. A lot of them see the say as ‘Invasion Day’ or ‘Survival Day’.

Useful teaching and learning resources

Free downloadable resources

Simply click on the links below to access the free resources we have created on our TeachersPayTeachers account.

Skwirk resources

Log into Skwirk to get access to online resources (don’t have an account? Subscribe now or start a free trial). Once you have logged in, click on the links below to access each chapter.

Great Australia Day books

Check your local library or book shop to find the following books, hand-picked by Skwirk teachers.

  • An Aussie Year: Twelve Months in the life of Australian Kids – Tania McCartney
  • A is for Australia – Frane Lessac
  • Why I Love Australia – Bronwyn Bancroft
  • Are We There Yet? – Alison Lester
  • My Place – Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlin
  • Meet Captain Cook – Rae Murdie
  • Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo – Alison Lester
  • Wombat Stew – Marcia Vaughan
  • Possum Magic – Mem Fox and Julie Vivas
  • Waltzing Matilda – A.B (Banjo) Paterson
  • The Rainbow Serpent – Dick Roughsey
  • My Country – Dorothea Mackellar
  • Where the Forest Meets the Sea – Jeanie Baker

Engaging Videos

Students love watching videos! The following videos on Australia Day are engaging and educational.

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