Canberra Day in the Australian Capital Territory Date in the current year: March 11, 2024

Canberra Day in the Australian Capital Territory The second Monday of March is a public holiday in several Australian states and territories. It is known as Labour Day in Victoria, Eight Hours Day in Tasmania, Adelaide Cup Day in South Australia, and as Canberra Day in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

Canberra is the capital of Australia, the largest city of the ACT, and the largest inland city in Australia. Unlike most Australian cities, Canberra is an entirely planned city because it was specifically built to serve as the capital city in order to resolve the dispute over whether Melbourne or Sydney should be the national capital.

Europeans began to explore and settle the Canberra area in the early 19th century. In 1823, stockmen employed by Joshua John Moore built a homestead here, which is widely regarded as the first white settlement in the area. Moore named the property “Canberry” and formally applied to purchase the site in December 1826. Several months later, he came into possession of 1,000 acres at Canberry.

Canberra’s oldest surviving building, St John the Baptist Church, was consecrated in 1845. The first school for the children of local settlers opened several months later. The settlement grew and developed around them.

In the late 19th century, six British self-governing colonies in Australia (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia) agreed to form a federation. One of the important issues in the debates that preceded was the choice of the capital city. Australia’s two largest cities, Melbourne and Sidney, competed for the status.

After a long discussion, a compromise was found: it was decided to build the new capital in New South Wales at a distance of at least 100 miles from Sydney. Meanwhile, Melbourne was declared the temporary seat of government while the new capital was built.

A survey was conducted to choose the location of the new capital, and the federal parliament opted for Dalgety, officially confirming the choice in the Seat of Government Act 1904. However, the Government of New South Wales found the site unacceptable, citing its proximity to Melbourne and distance from Sydney. In 1908, the new Seat of Government Act approved the Yass-Canberra region as the site for the new capital.

The Federal Capital Territory (known as the Australian Capital Territory since 1938) was established in 1911. The next year, the government invited the public to submit suggestions for the name of the national capital. Having considered almost 750 suggestions, the government chose the name Canberra. It was officially announced by Lady Denman, the wife of the Governor-General of Australia, at a ceremony that was held on March 12, 1913.

Canberra Day was established to commemorate the official naming of Canberra. Originally celebrated on the third Monday in March, it was moved to the second Monday in March in 2007 in order to fall closer to the actual date. Canberra Day is marked with various events, such as the Hand Up for Canberra Giving Day, the Enlighten Festival, and the Canberra Balloon Spectacular.

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Canberra Day in the Australian Capital Territory, holidays in Australia, public holidays, holidays in the Australian Capital Territory