Australian Public Holidays and British Bank Holidays Compared

ANZIt’s time for another reprint of an article I’ve written for Australia and New Zealand magazine. If my magazine articles had subtitles, like some TV sitcoms, this one would be called ‘The one where Bob admits he got it wrong for 8 years‘.

Read on and you will see what I mean. This one appeared in their January issue, it was called…

The Great British Bank Holiday

bank holsBank holidays are an almost uniquely British thing. I never knew that until I moved to Australia, and even then it took me a few years before I cottoned on.

As we contemplate another new year though, I think it’s fitting to talk about the upcoming bank holidays for 2016. Whilst we are at it, we can compare and contrast with what happens down under in Australia.

According to the British Government you can look forward to eight bank holidays during the year. You don’t need me to tell you what they are, but I’m going to all the same in a quick wrap-up.

You have three over Christmas and New Year, a couple over Easter, then a May, spring, and a summer bank holiday. That covers the whole of England, simple isn’t it?

Now let me do a similar wrap-up for Australia. How many bank holidays do we have to look forward to?


For a while I thought Australia did have them, but apparently not. My use of the word ‘while’ in that last sentence may also be a little contentious. I arrived in Australia in 2007 and I had been referring to Australia’s ‘bank holidays’ on my website quite a lot.

In 2015 an Aussie called Frank pulled me up on it. He explained that, and I am quoting him:

Sorry to be a pain Bob, but there is only one BANK HOLIDAY in Australia. That bank holiday is the day the banks close and have a holiday but everybody else continues to work. All other holidays such as Australia Day, Christmas Day, Good Friday etc are named as such. The mere fact that most businesses are closed, including the banks, does not make it a bank holiday. Strictly speaking it is a PUBLIC HOLIDAY.”

According to Wikipedia, the Fountain of all knowledge, apparently some of it correct, holidays in the state of Victoria are referred to as ‘bank holidays’ as well. I’m not so sure about that, but I am sure that my use of ‘while’ earlier should really have been ‘quite some time’; as in 8 years.

So, we have public holidays, but how many do we get?

Here in Queensland, we get everything you get except we do not have those three seasonal bank holidays. Instead, we have Australia Day, Anzac Day, Labour Day, Royal Queensland Show Day and we also get a day off the Queen’s Birthday.

Yes, your queen, the Queen of England.

Queen Elizabeth IIIt doesn’t stop there either; there are many local and regional days off. For example, there’s Melbourne Cup Day, an official holiday in some areas. That doesn’t stop the rest of Australia declaring “Nah, I’m not going to work today, it’s the Melbourne Cup!” It’s not called ‘the race that stops a nation’ for nothing.

There are so many regional holidays that I can’t possibly mention them all. I’ll just tell you about my favourite; it’s the Shire of Pormpuraaw’s Fishing Day on 10 July.

No, I don’t know.

What I do know is though that if you move to Australia you will at least be gaining 37.5% more ‘bank holidays’ than you currently get in the UK. Perfect for the great Aussie barbecue which is usually accompanied by hot and sunny weather. Oh, and sausages.



Visa Assessment Service
{ 2 comments… add one }
  • frank barclay April 24, 2016, 6:42 am |

    hi bob. love the website. me and my family (wife and two boys)
    are looking to move to oz .our house is in prosess of geting i was wondring how long it takes for me to get a perminint visa as i will need to let a home wile i do this . and would it be best to get somone to do it for us? thanks for the advice frankie.

    • BobinOz April 25, 2016, 4:46 pm |

      Well Frank, these are impossible questions for me to answer, it’s a very complex process. See Would I Qualify?

      Good luck, Bob

Leave a Comment

If your comment doesn’t get answered, find out why…..
FAQs and Comment Policy.