Picnic Day is a public holiday that is observed in Australia’s Northern Territory on the first Monday in August each year. The general population are given the day off, with schools and most businesses being closed for the day. Picnic Day 2019 falls on Monday 5th August.
The origin of Picnic Day is unclear, with many different theories being acknowledged. Some sources credit the freeing of approximately 3000 Chinese coolie workers after the completion of the North Australian railway. The workers were slaves who were used as a means of cheap labour to connect Darwin and Larrimah. Once the railway track was completed in 1899, the workers were given the right to settle in Australia as free citizens. Story has it, that to celebrate, the Chinese workers visited Adelaide River and had a picnic.
Similarly, other sources claim Picnic Day occurs as a result of the hard-working railway workers in the Northern Territory being granted the day off from work to enjoy a picnic on the Adelaide River.
The final source states that Picnic Day stems from a race meeting in 1947. The meeting was such a success, that the day became an annual event, which is now known as Harts Range annual races. The Northern Territory administration were presented an application asking for a public holiday that would coincide with future events put on by Harts Range races. The Northern Territory agreed to the application, and called it Picnic Day.
Some Australians living in the Northern Territory will commemorate the day by enjoying the long weekend at home with friends and family. They might even have a picnic in the park, garden or beside a river. There are also plenty of events put on for the public to attend, including sporting events such as netball and baseball games.
The Harts Range annual races occur throughout the long weekend. It is held annually at the Harts Range Racecourse, located about 215km away from Alice Springs and provides entertainment for the whole family. Attendees can enjoy stock-horse races, rodeo, children’s competitions, lizard races and tug of war competitions. A variety of food is available for purchase, including steaks, hot food, sandwiches, drinks and ice cream. There is a range of accommodation available, from camping, caravans to resorts compiled of rustic cabins. If you want to attend the races but are slightly put off by the action-packed itinerary, spectators are more than welcome. Remember to bring a camping chair with you if you are concerned about standing for long periods of time.
Others prefer to celebrate the day in a more traditional manner, by travelling to Adelaide River and having a picnic. A picnic is a fantastic recreation for the whole family, including children and adults. Spend the day with your loved ones and remember to pack delicious, picnic food such as sandwiches, barbequed chicken, sausage rolls and potato salad. Activities on the day include tug of war, sack races and egg and spoon races, so there is plenty of entertainment for spectators and competitors.
Whether you choose to do your own thing at home, or attend one of the events put on in the Northern Territory, Picnic Day is a fantastic opportunity to acknowledge Australia’s rich history and enjoy the public holiday with your loved ones.