Australia is a beautiful country. Its continent is filled with many rarities from both animal and plant lives. When you hear Australia, you immediately imagine kangaroos, koalas, and platypuses. The country is also home to a myriad of other tourist attractions such as Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef.

Perhaps you’ve decided to go on a vacation in this country. Or maybe you even plan to work and settle down in Oz. Whatever the case may be, you’ll have to learn about the public holidays in this country.

Australia celebrates 7 public holidays in total, with some states celebrating more than that. Most of these are either religious or national. As part of the Commonwealth, some Australian territories also celebrate Queen’s Day.

If you wish to learn more about public holidays in Australia, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re going to tell you everything there is to know about these special Australian days.

7 fixed public holidays celebrated in all of Australia

These 7 fixed holidays follow the same pattern every year across the whole country. About half of these holidays are related to Christianity – Good Friday, Easter Monday, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. National holidays include Anzac Day and Australia Day. The final holiday is New Year’s Day which is celebrated internationally.

New Year’s Day

Due to its time zone, Australia is among the countries that celebrate New Year’s Day first. It always falls on the 1st of January and marks the start of a new year according to the Gregorian calendar. Most institutions and businesses don’t operate on this day.

Australians celebrate New Year’s Day by spending time with their families or going on vacations. Of course, fireworks are a given.

As 1st January is a public holiday, trades are restricted in states such as Queensland and New South Wales. Many businesses close on this day, though some may choose to operate anyway.

The good news is that you always get an extra day off in Australia. Even if it falls on a weekend, New Year’s Day is automatically moved to the following Monday.

Australia Day

This national public holiday falls on the 26th of January. All non-essential businesses and institutions are closed on this day. Australia Day celebrates the country’s citizens, growth, and development.

Initially celebrating the convicts’ emancipation, Australia Day has evolved over the years. Today, it marks the nation’s diversity and identity. Most Australians spend this day with their families. The day is often marked by horse racing, regattas, and fireworks.

If it falls on a weekend, it’s automatically shifted to the next Monday. Some Australians thus call it a Long Holiday.

Good Friday

This Easter public holiday always falls on the Friday before Easter Sunday. Good Friday commemorates the day when Jesus Christ was crucified. Most public institutions close on this day while private ones can choose to stay open.

Christians often go to church on this day to honor the death of Jesus Christ and the salvation he brought to mankind.

Easter Monday

Easter Monday follows Easter Sunday every year. This Christian holiday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Over the years, even non-religious Australians started to celebrate this holiday in some ways.

Businesses and schools don’t operate on this day. However, hospitals and airports still function. Airports tend to be busy on this day since it is the last day of Easter. Many people travel back home on this day. Certain stores stay open, especially the seasonal ones.

Australians across the country celebrate Easter Monday by visiting music festivals. The most popular is the Easterfest in Queensland, a three-day gospel music festival. It takes place in Toowoomba. Another music festival, the Byron Bay Bluesfest, is held in New South Wales.

Some Australians visit the National Folk Festival. Apart from music, this festival also features arts and dancing. It takes place in Canberra, in the Exhibition Park.

Others spend their Eastern Monday at sporting events. Some popular ones include the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race, the Stawell Gift, and the Australian Three Peaks Race.

Anzac Day

Anzac is the abbreviation for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Australians commemorate those who perished during the military operations in 1915.

Anzac Day falls on the 25th of April. Australians hold ceremonies at war memorials on this day, which often start at sunrise. Several marching processions of former military servicemen often mark this public holiday.

Most public institutions close on Anzac Day. However, the ceremonies rarely last past 1 PM. Private businesses can choose to resume their operations after this time.

Christmas Day

This Christian holiday is celebrated in plenty of countries, including Australia. Christmas Day marks the day when Jesus Christ was born. It falls on the 25th of December, the day after Christmas Eve.

Keep in mind that Australia is located in the Southern hemisphere. Instead of snowfall, it experiences the heat of summer in December. As most of the country is one giant desert, it also witnesses many bushfires on this day. However, this doesn’t halt the Christmas celebrations in the slightest.

Most businesses and institutions don’t operate on this important holiday. Some exceptions are airports and hospitals.

The holiday is often marked by festive decorations and Christmas carols. Devout Christians often go to church, especially to attend the Midnight Mass.

Boxing Day

Boxing Day falls on the 26th of December, the day after Christmas Day. Many Australians visit the beaches with their friends and families on this day. Most institutions are closed, except for stores and tourist centers.

Australian Boxing Day is often marked by unique events. These include Boxing Day Sales, Boxing Day Test Match, and Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

2 public holidays in Australia with varied dates

These public holidays fall on different days in different regions. Australia observes 2 such holidays: Labor Day and Queen’s Day.

Labor Day

All states and territories celebrate Labor Day. However, it falls on a different day depending on the region. This day honors workers and employees.

Though it is not a national public holiday, most workers get a day off. Australians spend this holiday relaxing and visiting their families.

Queen’s Day

This public holiday celebrates the Queen’s birthday. Most states celebrate it in June. The two exceptions are Queensland and Western Australia. These states observe Queen’s Day on a different day announced by their territory governments. Since Queen Elizabeth II passed away recently, it will change to King’s Day. The change will likely occur after his coronation.

FAQ about public holidays in Australia

How many public holidays are there in Australia?

Every year, there are 13 national holidays in Australia. However, several states and territories also observe other regionally-specific public holidays.

What are the dates of the public holidays in Australia?

Australia’s public holiday dates can vary a little bit from year to year. New Year’s Day, Australia Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day, the Queen’s Birthday, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day are among the national public holidays. In addition, extra holidays like Labor Day or the Queen’s Birthday may be observed by states and territories.

Are public holidays observed nationally or only in certain states or territories?

All areas of the nation observe national public holidays. However, some states and territories could also observe additional regional holidays.

Do public holidays affect public transportation schedules?

On public holidays, there may be changes to or reductions in service on some routes for public transit. It is always a good idea to confirm the timetable on public holidays with the appropriate transit authority.

Are shops and businesses closed on public holidays?

Depending on the industry and the state or territory where they are located, shops and businesses may be closed on public holidays. Other establishments, such cafes and restaurants, might continue to operate but with fewer hours. It’s best to always call each company directly to confirm their holiday hours of operation.

Are employees entitled to paid time off on public holidays?

As long as they are not casual workers, the majority of Australian employees are entitled to paid time off on public holidays. Employers are permitted to make their staff report to work on public holidays, but they must pay a penalty.

Are penalty rates for working on public holidays different from normal rates?

Working on holidays has higher penalty rates than usual, and these rates can change depending on the sector and the employee’s award or agreement. Up to two times the employee’s typical hourly wage may be assessed as a penalty.

Are public holiday rates applicable to all types of employees or only to certain types of workers?

The majority of Australian employees, including full-time, part-time, and casual workers, are subject to public holiday rates. Some workers, such as those with individual contracts, might not be eligible for public holiday rates, nevertheless.

Are public holidays different for different industries or professions?

Every industry and profession observes the same public holidays on the same dates. However, based on the employee’s award or agreement, the pay and conditions for working on public holidays may differ.

Are there any specific customs or traditions associated with public holidays in Australia?

Australia’s different public holidays are tied to a variety of traditions and customs. Anzac Day, for instance, honours those who served and lost their lives in wars and other conflicts. Australians frequently participate in dawn services, marches, and other memorial activities on this day. In contrast to New Year’s Eve, which is marked by fireworks displays and celebrations, Christmas is often marked by family get-togethers, gift-giving, and special meals.

Our final thoughts on the public holidays in Australia

If you plan to visit the Down Under, you should first learn about its public holidays. Australians spend these days celebrating special national, religious, and cultural occasions. As a result, most institutions close down on these public holidays. As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed. You wouldn’t want to spend your vacation stuck at the hotel!

Knowing about public holidays is even more important for employers. It can help you create a better work-life balance. You can also use this knowledge to estimate your annual budget.

Australia celebrates 7 national public holidays every year. However, each state can declare additional public holidays. These are then limited only to that particular state. Two examples include Labor Day and Queen’s Day.

If you liked this article about public holidays in Australia, you should check out this one on how many working days are in a year.

You should also check out these other articles of ours about public holidays in France, UK bank holidays, US Federal holidays, Canadian holidays, New Zealand holidays, and also public holidays in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.


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