26th of January is the national holiday of Australia. This day is also known as Australia Day, Anniversary Day and also as Foundation Day. This day marks the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788 on the very day the British Flag was unfolded there and proclaimed British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia. On 13th May 1787 British Captain Arthur Phillip set sail from Portsmouth, England to establish a convict colony in Australia. He sailed with 11 ships, 759 convicts 191 of whom were female, 13 children of convicts, 211 marines, 46 wives and children of marines, and his staff of nine. Phillip landed at Botany Bay on the eastern coast of Australia on 18th January 1788, travelled some kilometres north to find a more suitable place for settlement and came ashore at Sydney Cove on January 26 in what is now the historic Rocks area at the southern end of today's Sydney Harbour Bridge.
In 1808, the day was celebrated as the First Landing or Foundation Day as the colony had survived for twenty years, despite the initial hardships, deprivation and starvation suffered by the First Fleet settlers.
Governor Lachlan Macquarie first celebrated the day as Australia Day in the year 1818 and formed New South Wales.
At present around Sydney Cove stand the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the hub of bus, rail and harbour transport that is Circular Quay and the historic Rocks area where Governor Phillip's first settlement had its roots. A stone's throw away is Darling Harbour, a major tourist site, with its Sydney Powerhouse and National Maritime Museums, paved promenade areas, gardens and shopping and entertainment precincts. One only has to look at Sydney today to see how far the country has come.
At present Australia Day is the official public holiday. Civic celebrations such as the Order of Australia awards are a feature of the day around the country. Parades are also a common part of the celebrations of this day. The Australia Day Achievement Medallion is awarded to citizens based on excellence in both government and non-government organisations. Air Force aerial displays are held in some capital cities and firework displays occur every year in almost all the Australian cities and towns. In Sydney, races are held, such as a ferry race, tall ships race and a surfing race across the harbour. Citizenship ceremonies are also commonly held on Australia Day. The Prime Minister of the country makes an address to the nation.
On the eve of Australia Day each year, the Prime Minister announces the winner of the Australian of the Year Award which is presented to an Australian citizen who has shown a significant contribution to the Australian community and nation and plays as an inspirational role model for the Australian community. Besides subcategories of the award include Young and Senior Australian of the Year and an award for Australia's Local Hero.
Various music festivals are held on Australia Day such as the Big Day Out, the Triple J Hottest 100 and the Australia Day Live Concert. In the last ten years a One Day International cricket match in the Australian Tri-Series has been held on Australia Day at the Adelaide Oval. Prior to that, a Test match usually started at the Adelaide Oval on Australia Day.