Western Australia Day Date in the current year: June 3, 2024

Western Australia Day Western Australia Day is a public holiday in the Australian state of the same name, celebrated on the first Monday in June. Because of it, Western Australia doesn’t celebrate the Queen’s Official Birthday on the second Monday in June, as do the rest of the states, except for Queensland.

Western Australia is the largest state of Australia (it occupies the entire western third of the country and, consequently, of the mainland of the Australian continent) and the world’s second-largest country subdivision (after the Republic of Sakha in the Russian Federation). The first Europeans to visit the western coast of Australia were the Dutch in 1616, but it was the English who established the first settlements here. Western Australia Day, formerly known as Foundation Day, was originally created to commemorate the foundation of the first free settlement in Western Australia.

Technically, the first British settlement in Australia was New South Wales, but it was a penal colony and not a settlement for people who came to Australia of their own free will. The first free settlement in Australia was the Swan River Colony, established by Captain James Stirling in 1829. In 1827, Stirling explored the Swan River area in Western Australia and came to a conclusion that it had a considerable agricultural potential. Upon returning to England in 1828, he lobbied for the establishment of a “free” colony in Western Australia, as opposed to the already existing penal colonies on the east coast of Australia, in Tasmania and on Norfolk Island.

The first ship to arrive at the site of the future colony and anchor off its shore was HMS Challenger on April 25, 1829. On May 2, Captain Charles Fremantle officially claimed the western part of Australia for Britain. James Stirling, who had been appointed Lieutenant-Governor, arrived aboard the merchant ship Parmelia on the night of May 31 and sighted the coast on June 1. Parmelia anchored on June 6, and the third ship, HMS Sulphur, arrived two days later. On June 11, Stirling officially proclaimed the Swan River Colony.

In August, ships carrying more civilian settlers began to arrive. On August 12 (King George IV’s birthday), the initial settlement was named Perth, and it was officially declared the colony’s capital. Today Perth is the capital of the state of Western Australia and the fourth-most populous city in Australia (with a population of 2.14 million, Greater Perth is home to almost 80% of Western Australia’s population).

In 1832, Lieutenant-Governor Stirling decided that the colony’s inhabitants needed an annual celebration that would unite them. He decided to commemorate the foundation of the colony on June 1, the day when Parmelia was supposed to arrive. The date of the ship’s scheduled arrival, in its turn, was a commemoration of the Glorious First of June, a naval battle between Great Britain and the First French Republic that occurred in 1794.

The holiday was eventually moved to the first Monday in June. Its name was changed to Western Australia Day in 2012, in order to recognize Indigenous Australians as the original inhabitants of the region. Because of Western Australia Day, the state celebrates the Queen’s Official Birthday in September or October rather than on the second Monday in June, like most other Australian states.

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Western Australia Day, holidays in Australia, holidays in Western Australia, foundation day, public holidays