A Cairns backpackers guide to Australia Day

Why do we go backpacking in Australia? Well, besides to cuddle koalas, get Instagram gold, and make memories of a lifetime, part of travelling is experiencing other cultures. There are lots of things that make Australian life different, and I don’t just mean driving on the left side of the road or putting vegemite on toast. What’s one thing about living in Australia you don’t get anywhere else? Australia Day!

how to eat vegemite
There must be more to uniquely Australian life than this!

What is Australia Day?

Australia Day, for those who have never experienced it, is celebrated annually on January 26th. This national holiday helps us a remember a very important point in Australian history. To put it in backpacker terms, on January 26th 1788 a group of 700 Brits arrived in Australia on a fleet of 11 ships for a mandatory working holiday. Captain Arthur Phillip was meant to help them find their farm work. They were unfamiliar with the climate, inexperienced at farming, and had poor soil, making it nearly a total disaster. But eventually, things came around, and in 1808 they started celebrating the twenty-sixth of January as their founding day, with goon pong and sausage sizzles throughout the colony!

tally ho
Lads off to ‘straya after one last cheeky Nandos

How to prep for Australia Day

Head to the shops and see if you can score some Australia themed swag for the big day. Lots of discount shops offer Australia tees, flags, temporary tattoos, and other ways to show some Australian pride on the big day. If you’re not keen to buy a silly singlet you’ll only wear for one day, at least try to put on the Aussie colours. But not the red white and blue from the flag! No, the official national colours of Australia are green and gold, or “gum-tree green” and “wattle-gold”

golden wattle
Australia Day Trivia: The golden wattle is our national flower

How to celebrate Australia Day

In modern times we celebrate Australia Day with community events. We take this day to reflect on the country’s history. We also host citizenship ceremonies, adding new Australians to our society. Down in Sydney, where the fleet of eleven ships originally arrived and the British flag was raised there are all sorts of pageantry on Australia Day, with cannons, tall ships, even a race between the ferry boats for some reason. Up here in Cairns, we’ll still be making the most of our Australia Day.

Australia Day in Cairns 2019

Saturday, January 26th 7 – 11 AM

Cairns Esplanade next to the Lagoon

The City of Cairns will be having a free breakfast on Australia Day. This isn’t your average backpacker breakfast of toast and jam. No, on this special occasion the city is treating you to bacon and eggs! The event is at the Cairns Esplanade and starts at 7 AM and goes until 11 AM. Besides your delicious breakfast, you’ll have a chance to meet some of the residents of the Cairns Zoom & Wildlife Dome (hopefully they leave the giant saltwater crocodiles at home). They will also be playing some classic backyard sports with local Cairns athletic talent. After all, you didn’t really live in Australia if you didn’t take a chance swinging a cricket bat, did you?

While you’re down at the Esplanade, why not make a day out of it? Barbecues are the most classic way to celebrate Australia Day. Electric barbecues like the ones at the Cairns Esplanade are an Australian human right (That’s right America, we’ve got free healthcare AND barbecues!) You could make burgers, but since you want to have a true, fair-dinkum Australia Day barbecue, go with sausage sangas: a classic Australian sausage (thick or thin, none of those fancy herb infused ones), on white bread, with some tomato sauce. If you want to dress it up you’re allowed some onions, just make sure you put them on the bread, underneath the sausage. Safety first, people.

cairns bbq
A perfect place to celebrate Australia Day in Cairns

Wherever you are in Australia this January 26th, Happy Australia Day from Tropic Days!