Australia might be best known for its high quality lifestyle, but it also has a rich and interesting culture which incorporates influences of migrant settlers whilst reflecting the nation’s liberal democratic values. Ancient Australian traditions are blended with more recently adopted customs, producing a unique and diverse society.
National public holidays
Australia Day – 26th January
Australia Day is the country’s national day, celebrated in recognition of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet. The First Fleet was a group of 11 ships which sailed from English shores with the purpose of establishing a colony in Australia. There are huge, nationwide celebrations on the day which include concerts, carnivals, the Australia Day Honours and the Australian of the Year Awards.
ANZAC Day – 25th April
ANZAC Day has been celebrated on the 25th April since 1995. It is the day on which all those who have served Australia during wars or war-like conflicts are recognised and commemorated. The term ANZAC was first used during the Gallipoli landings of 1915 and stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The day is usually one of reflection, respect, recognition and giving thanks.
Excluding National Public Holidays, it is the responsibility of individual states and territories to declare any other public holiday (such as the Queen’s birthday)
There are many symbols associated with this sun-baked land. The national colours are green and gold and at the forefront of the country’s sporting and cultural endeavour.
Australia’s floral emblem is the golden wattle, a tree which produces masses of golden flowers from late winter to spring.
The country’s national gemstone is the beautifully multicoloured opal. Around 97% of the world’s opals come from down under, and Australia even has a basketball team named after the precious gem.
After the federation of Australia, the country was granted the Commonwealth Coat of Arms in 1908 by King Edward VII. It was the country’s first official coat of arms. After a redesign in 1911 it was re-granted by George V in 1912. The emblem features a shield made up of badges representing each individual Australian state. The shield is borne by an emu and a kangaroo with golden wattle fanning out behind them and the seven pointed ‘Star of Federation’ or ‘Commonwealth Star’ crowning all. The emblem is used by the Australian Parliament, Commonwealth courts and tribunals, and governmental departments/agencies.
Australians are renowned for being very down to earth, matter of fact and laid back. They are often considered to have a self depreciating sense of humour and are known for putting a big emphasis on relationships and community cooperation. As the population are informal in general, greetings are usually relaxed and casual, and addressing someone on a first name basis is preferred.
In everyday, non-work based situations Australian’s wear clothes which suit the climate and are consequently often very casually dressed.
Outdoor dining and BBQ’s are common and a fantastic way to make friends and connections in a new community. Etiquette usually dictates that if you receive an invitation to an event like this you contribute a dish or something to drink.
The Australian population has been multicultural since initial settlers of European decent (principally British and Irish) joined the Aborigines. Then, in order to give the population and workforce a boost, a large proportion of emigrants from across Europe settled in Australia following the Second World War. In recent decades emigrants from South East Asia have also become numerous. Although originally perceiving itself as a homogenous, protestant nation, Australia has whole heartedly embraced being a multi-cultural, multi-faith, inclusive society.