Some countries celebrate the day they won their independance. Some celebrate the day they won (and lost) their civil war. Some celebrate the date a nasty traitor was executed. Australia's independance was achieved quietly and calmly on January 1st 1901 and is rather overshadowed by New Years celebrations. We've never had a civil war, unless you count the mindless slaughter of thousands of Aboriginals, and we're not too proud of that these days. As for executions, our best is Ned Kelly and nobody could tell you the date he was hanged. So instead, we celebrate the date that our illustrious founder (at least, he claims he found us, but the Dutch were here first) first sailed to our shores. On January 26th many many years ago (I confess I've forgotten the year), Captain James Cook arrived here. He jumped ashore, killed some blacks, and claimed the land for England under the law of Terra Nullius. Terra Nullius is a funny old law which states that any uninhabited, unowned land can be claimed. He conveniently forgot that Aboriginals are humans and that they most certainly did inhabit this great land of ours. Oops! Not to worry. Before long, our esteemed island was converted into a prison camp anyway. Transportation for seven years was a common sentence for crimes of great magnitude - stealing some food to survive, for instance. Most of the transportees never went home. Land was plentiful and cheap here (they were giving it away at one point), and anyone prepared to work hard could make it big! And they did.
I've now become far too lazy to continue with this history lesson. Suffice to say, our so-called national day is a farce, but I still intend to get drunk and watch fireworks and have a barbeque.