Australia Day

The VICE Guide to Dealing With Australia Day

You don’t want to be docked woke points for enjoying yourself, but you also don't want to miss an excuse to spend a weekday outside in the sun.
January 25, 2017, 10:26pm

Ever since a group of top-tier copywriters were tasked with coming up with the name for a day devoted entirely to Australia, then emerged after three weeks locked in a board room with nothing but takeaway Chinese food and cocaine to announce they'd invented "Australia Day," Australians have used the public holiday to wind down after an exhausting three weeks back in the workforce.

But it's not always easy to know what to do on our National Day of Patriotism or Possibly Thankfulness or Something. Keep your Australia Day golden with our tips on how to spend the day in the most Austrian way possible.


Image via Flickr user Phil Whitehouse

Of all of our Problematic National Holidays, Australia Day is easily the most Problematicist. You don't want to be docked woke points for enjoying the day, but you also don't want to miss an excuse to spend a weekday outside in the sun. It's a tough line to walk.


To anyone who has been in a coma or reading nothing but The Australian for the last five years, the problem is this: we celebrate Australia Day on January 26, thereby marking the anniversary of the First Fleet arriving at Port Jackson and indelibly linking our national identity with colonialism. To Indigenous Australians, this is a pretty big slap in the face, which is why it's taken on the moniker of "Invasion Day." It's a bit like if your cousin Barry shows up at your front door with all of his belongings, then pushes past you and sets up shop in your house because he's decided he lives there now. Kicking him out might not be an option, but you'd probably get a bit upset when he suggests you and your spouse celebrate your anniversary on the day he turned up.

If this flawless analogy has helped inspire any empathy to non-Indigenous readers, then we have a way for you to have your cake and invade it too.

Throw an anti-Australia Day party. A party designed to raise awareness for why we should change the date. Cook some awareness sausages. Drink some awareness beer. This is called counter-programming probably.


Image via Flickr user Jim Whimpey

If you're like me, you could use a nice holiday somewhere tropical, and also you haven't listened to the radio in at least 10 years. Whichever party you end up at will inevitably be tuned to Triple J's Hottest 100 countdown. When you're unable to sneakily Shazam every single track you're hearing for the first time, you'll want to avoid embarrassment by exclaiming, "Hey, this is pretty good, what's this track called?" only to find out it's the biggest song of 2016 and was used in all the commercials and a couple of film trailers and everyone got so sick of it six months ago that it became a meme and then the memes became meta-memes and you missed it because you're still listening to Aussie hip-hop that passionately advocates for the removal of John Howard from office.


Best just keep your mouth shut and occasionally nod your head like they're playing your favourite. Just be careful not to do this during a station ident or you'll like like a right wanker.


The Australian Cricket Team of 1893. Image via

This year the Australia Day test match takes on special significance, as it's the last time the words "Australia vs Pakistan" will refer to the cricket instead of one of the many battles that will constitute World War Three: The Final Chapter.

Physically attending the game itself would mean actually having to be in Adelaide, and we're not monsters. So for those of you in other parts of the country, simply set up a nice big television outside, shift the comfy chairs into the yard, have a few cold brews, and get your friends over to watch Australia whomp Pakistan.

Now we think about it, if it's sunny you probably won't be able to see the screen for the glare. And you don't want your nice furniture out in the elements. And you shouldn't allow societal forces to pressure you into regimented drinking. And your friends are all awful. And Pakistan has a shot at winning this thing. Look, this is a terrible plan. Ignore the cricket altogether.


Image via Flickr user Alpha

Once again, Big Lamb—by which we mean the lamb industry, as opposed to a sheep rebranded for marketing purposes—once again attempted to inextricably link the consumption of lamb to the celebration of Australia Day, in the same way that everyone celebrates Christmas by eating turkey, or spends Alexander Pearce's birthday devouring the flesh of escaped convicts.


This year we saw some pushback to this idea, with several or a couple or possibly just one viral video suggesting the fairly self-evident concept that maybe we don't have to eat what the shouty man on the television tells us to eat.

But what options are left? Literally anything. You can eat anything. You see how big the supermarket is? Eat anything they sell, except for what's in the toiletries section. You know all those things in your pantry? Eat those, once you've checked the use-by date. But if you're beholden to the idea that you must eat lamb, your problems may run much deeper.


Image via flickr user Cacau & Xande

If you feel compelled to eat lamb, then you almost certainly feel compelled to eat beer. If any day of the year is devoted to drinking, then it's definitely Australia Day, and also New Year's Day, and Christmas, and the Queen's Birthday, and really most Fridays and Saturdays, and Thursdays, and really every day, but especially Australia Day.

Before you get pressured into removing a can of beer from the slab and then drinking all the beers in the slab except for the one you removed and calling that moderation, remember that until our culture of social alcoholism is rolled back, there's one sure fire excuse that even your rowdiest of friends can't argue with: you've got to drive.

Even if you arrived with your partner, tell them you brought separate cars. Your kids also brought cars. You all brought your own car because Australia Day is also about driving cars. And really, isn't modern Australia a lot about driving cars?


Image via Flickr user Christopher

We know you don't want to do this. Nobody wants to do this. The Prime Minister's family doesn't want to do this. But there is a very important reason why you should watch. Even though there's a high probability that Turnbull will deliver a bunch of meaningless platitudes about patriotism and loving your fellow person, there's a very good chance that the right wing of the LNP will tell him to dance around like a chicken for 15 minutes on live TV, in which case history tells us he will absolutely do that. And you really don't want to miss this.

Lee Zachariah is journalist, TV writer, and author of Double Dissolution: Heartbreak and Chaos on the Campaign Trail, out now from Echo Publishing. You can also follow him on Twitter.