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Canberra Day: Celebrating Australia’s Capital

Canberra is the heart of Australia and proudly beckons residents and others to join the Canberra Day celebration. The capital city celebrates this joyous occasion every year on the second Monday in March, showcasing its rich history, cultural diversity, and the essence that unites the country. This blog will discuss Canberra Day – its background, traditions, celebrations, and more.

Canberra Day: An Introduction

Canberra Day is celebrated on the second Monday in March, honouring its official founding on March 12, 1913. The day is declared a public holiday, with government offices, schools, other institutions, and many businesses remaining closed. Since it is always celebrated on a Monday, many families choose to take the weekend for a short getaway.

Residents all the way from the Jervis Bay Territory to the Australian Capital Territory celebrate this day with great enthusiasm. Sporting events, theatre, film, dance, exhibitions, displays, and music festivals are among many other forms of entertainment enjoyed and participated in by locals and visitors.

Additionally, the Canberra Citizen of the Year is named around this time, and individuals involved in social, community, and/or voluntary work are honoured.

History of Canberra Day

Canberra’s journey from a barren landscape to the carefully planned capital city is worth exploring. According to statistics from the Australian Government’s Culture and Recreation Portal, Indigenous Australians, or the Ngunnawal people, have lived in Canberra for almost 21,000 years. Despite a gradual decrease in population, many Aboriginal people remained in the region long after European settlers arrived in the 1820s, frequently working on sheep reserves.

As European colonisation spread, the region gained significance. In 1911, an international competition drawing over 130 entries chose the area as Australia’s future capital, bringing attention to it. American architect Walter Burley Gryphon and his wife Marion Mahony Gryphon won the new capital city competition. Their plan for Canberra included formal gardens, ornamented buildings, wide boulevards, green spaces around urban areas, and water features.

Considering how developed and prepared Sydney and Melbourne seemed to be to host the government, much discussion existed regarding these cities before Canberra was chosen as Australia’s capital. Section 125 of the Constitution stipulates that the capital must be located in New South Wales, which was the constitutional instruction that finally settled the issue. Canberra’s history significantly turned in 1908 when Parliament enthusiastically passed the Seat of Government Act.

On March 12, 1913, Lady Gertrude Mary Denman, the then-wife of Governor-General Lord Denman, formally named Canberra. She stated, “I name the capital of Australia, Canberra.” Ever since, the glorious city of Canberra has been celebrated on the third Monday in March. Eventually, the day was moved to the second Monday in March to better correspond with its original date of March 12, 2007.

What Makes Canberra Day Special?

The vibrant Canberra Day Parade, which features community groups and cultural performances parading through the city centre, brings Canberra Day to life. The festival is widely renowned for its characteristic customs, which include a colourful hot air balloon festival and a spectacular fireworks show that lights up the night sky.

Canberra Day is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the city’s impressive display of cultural diversity. The celebration becomes a monument to the diverse mosaic of cultures that makes up Canberra through various activities, shows, and exhibitions. The capital has a wide range of outdoor activities for those who like the great outdoors, such as taking leisurely picnics in charming parks or going on nature treks in the nearby hills to explore the grandeur of Lake Burley Gryphon.

Canberra’s vibrant arts and culture scene also take centre stage during this time. Street art, galleries, live performances, and museums combine to turn the city into an immersive creative canvas. Canberra Day offers a gourmet trip spanning local markets to fine dining experiences, so connoisseurs are also set for an unforgettable experience.

Canberra Day is a family-friendly event that provides activities for people of all ages, encouraging lifelong memories among both kids and adults. The day encapsulates the city’s spirit with eye-catching images, highlighting its landmarks, happenings, and the happiness its citizens radiate. Beyond the celebrations, volunteerism and community service demonstrate Canberra’s strong sense of camaraderie. Upcoming projects and developments that can potentially alter the city’s landscape significantly also offer a glimpse into the city’s future vision.

Canberra Day is celebrated with joy, ethnic diversity, and camaraderie. Residents and visitors alike are welcome to experience the capital’s distinct beauty and embrace the spirit of Australia.