In the media – Articles by the Wattle Day Association Inc.

WDA opinion pieces distributed to the media (2006 – 2023)


Australia Day – not the only national day for celebration

Australia Day is one of Australia’s few official national days of celebration. National Wattle Day, proclaimed in 1992, is another.
National days come and go as their relevance changes. Who celebrates Empire Day (Queen Victoria’s birthday on 24 May)? This became a commemorative day after the Queen’s death in 1901 for more than 50 years (1903 – 1958). Names change too. January 26 was called ‘First Landing Day’ and ‘Foundation Day’ by the colonists of NSW to mark the beginning of British occupation of Australia. Later it was called ‘Australia Day’, ‘Day of Mourning’, ‘Invasion Day’, and ‘Survival Day’.

Other countries have several national public holidays each year for people to celebrate their history, identity, values, beliefs and nature’s annual cycles. In Australia we have few and room for more.

Pragmatically National Wattle Day (1 September) is well placed to become a national public holiday as there are currently no such days from July onwards and very few state or territory public holidays in the latter part of the year. On the first day of spring, this national day of unity has great symbolism in its timing and the intrinsic messages of Australia’s more than 1,000 wattles (Acacia species) about how to thrive in this great land: diversity, resilience, and adaptation.

To quote Jack Fahy, Wattle Day Association founder, it is also a time for thanksgiving for the great good fortune we share in this country where we aspire to equality of opportunity and the absence of violence to settle disputes.

Dr Suzette Searle
President Wattle Day Association Inc.
Thursday 26 January 2023

Let’s celebrate together

by Suzette Searle for Australia Day 26 January 2022

 The celebration of Australia Day on 26 January continues to be a day of debate and disagreement for many. Especially for younger Australians, this anniversary of the 1788 landing of British convict ships in New South Wales isn’t working to inspire national unity.

There is no doubt that the 26 January has become a significant date in Australian history, but does it unify us in a celebration called Australia Day? For the record, it has been called First Landing Day, Foundation Day and Anniversary Day in centuries past. Perhaps it is time to remind ourselves that the names and the significance of national days can change over time. Ever heard of Empire Day (Queen Victoria’s birthday on 24 May) that was celebrated after her death (in 1901) from 1903 – 1958 in Australia? On the other hand ANZAC Day (25 April 1915 – the Gallipoli Landing in World War I) has grown in significance for many Australians as the generations have passed.

Worthy anniversaries to consider for a national celebration include Federation Day on 1 January 1901, the opening of the first Federal Parliament on 9 May 1901 and the commencement of the Australia Act 1986 on 3 March. There is a day, however, that links us to the ancient land on which we all walk, through its unique flora. National Wattle Day on 1 September is rich in meaning through the optimistic symbolism of the golden wattle on the first day of a southern spring – a time of renewal and rebirth.

This happy springtime celebration was first celebrated more than a century ago on 1 September in 1910 in NSW, Victoria and South Australia. Wattle Day then became a popular addition to primary school activities for decades and the date changed to coincide with the local abundance of blooming wattles. The celebration was formalised by the Governor-General of Australia in 1992 as National Wattle Day – to be held on 1 September – for everyone across Australia.

Read more…


The rare Velvet Wattle (Acacia fulva) flowering on 26 January 2022 at the Australia National Botanic Gardens Canberra Photo: ©S.D. Searle


In pandemic times Wattle urges us to do it for Australia

by Suzette Searle for National Wattle Day 1 September 2021

On National Wattle Day (1 September) wear a sprig of flowering wattle as a symbol of resilience and optimism in these pandemic times. Golden Wattle, our national floral emblem is also a symbol of unity and reminds us that together we will see this through and prevail over the virus.

Wattles have seen many seasons in Australia, going back more than 30 million years. They have survived in all sorts of conditions and all manner of difficulties. They remind us that after the difficult times, whether a tough winter, a long drought or an ongoing, wearying pandemic, there is a pay-off – there is gold. Wattle gives us golden blossoms that reminds us of nature’s cycles and encourages us to invoke the resilience that our wattles have shown over millennia.

This year in particular, after the good winter rains, the spring flowering of wattles will be exceptional and everyone is noticing. From the outback to the bush and in our backyards the wattles, heavy with blossom, are going to be a spectacular sight. In these COVID times, city councils have rallied to lift our spirits by lighting up their landmarks in yellow and green for National Wattle Day. From Perth to Adelaide, Melbourne, Launceston, Hobart, Canberra, Brisbane and Townsville, Australia’s national colours of gold and green will be glowing around us both day and night on 1 September.

This grass-roots celebration of National Wattle Day on 1 September has gained momentum over the last few years with growing recognition of the importance of wattle in the lives of ordinary Australians. This is evident as libraries organise community events, kindergartens celebrate with wattle crafts, businesses showcase their wattle-themed wares; botanical gardens, arboreta and indigenous tours focus on wattle, and plant nurseries organise fun days.

Read more…


Dr Suzette Searle President of the Wattle Day Association Inc.


 Australia Day – great celebration but needs a new date

by Suzette Searle for Australia Day 26 January 2021

1 September is an alternative date worth considering for Australia Day celebrations. This is also National Wattle Day, a springtime celebration that offers a rich history and meaning for all Australians. National days say something about the identity and values of the people who celebrate them. This year the government–owned National Australia Day Council (NADC) gives the following description:

‘On Australia Day, we reflect on our history, its highs and its lows.

We respect the stories of others.

And we celebrate our nation, its achievements and most of all, its people.’

Australia Day is the latest of four names used for the anniversary of 26 January 1788. During the 1800s it was called First Landing Day, Foundation Day and Anniversary Day, arguably all accurate descriptions. Celebration of a nation – that is something different. Australia became a nation in 1901 on 1 January – another date for consideration if we are in good shape after New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Read more…

Sept. 1st – A Wattle Day like no other – the unity we need

by Suzette Searle for National Wattle Day 1 September 2020

This year’s National Wattle Day (Tuesday September 1st) is at a time when Australia’s unity is being tested and vital to our future.

Wattle is a unifying symbol that we can all relate to, irrespective of our politics, ethnicity, or religion or what state or territory we live in. Its diversity reflects us as a nation of Indigenous peoples and colonists, settlers, immigrants and refugees from across the world. Read more …


Australia Day – our day needs a new date

by Suzette Searle for 2020 Australia Day

The celebration of Australia Day on 26 January is not set in stone. Surely it is not beyond us to select a different date that represents how we all want to see ourselves? Read more …


Terry Fewtrell President of the Wattle Day Association Inc.(March 2007- present) Photo: S.D.Searle 26 January 2018

Let’s make Australia Day Gold! 26 January 2019

In 2019 Terry Fewtrell, then President of the Wattle Day Association wrote, just as we have celebrated the New Year and enjoy the summer holidays, people start writing newspaper articles and Letters to the Editor about Australia Day.

Yes, let’s celebrate Australia Day – but on which day? Read more here…

In 2018 Terry Fewtrell, suggested that National Wattle Day has a unique role to play to diffuse some of the anger and disharmony that occurs now with celebrations on 26 January. Click here to read more…



Terry Fewtrell President of the Wattle Day Association Inc.(March 2007- 2019)


Speeches and articles by Terry Fewtrell

Let’s make Australia Day Gold! 26 January 2019

Just as we have celebrated the New Year and enjoy the summer holidays, people start writing newspaper articles and Letters to the Editor about Australia Day.

Yes, let’s celebrate Australia Day – but on which day? Read more here…

 WDA President Terry Fewtrell (left) and below
addressing an Australian Citizenship Ceremony
about the significance of National Wattle Day for all Australians

Articles (2006-2019) by Terry Fewtrell (2nd President of the Wattle Day Association from 2007-2019)

‘Let’s make Australia Day Gold’ 26 January 2019

‘Wattle: A Deep Time reflection’ 1 Sept 2018

‘Our Wattle helps again and supports drought relief’1 Sept 2018

‘How we can fix the Australia Day mess’ 26 January 2018

Let Wattle Day end Australia Day arguments by Terry Fewtrell 1 September 2017


‘Australian Days’ by Terry Fewtrell 26 January 2016


‘National Wattle Day – a celebration for all Australians’ by Terry Fewtrell 1 Sept. 2015


 ‘A way out of the Australia Day blues’ by Terry Fewtrell 25 January 2014


 ‘Solving the Australia Day Puzzle’ by Terry Fewtrell 26 January 2013


 ‘Humble Wattle Gives Us Identity’ by Terry Fewtrell 3 Feb. 2012


‘Wattle Day – An essential part of the Australian narrative’ by Terry Fewtrell 2011


‘The Call of the Wattle’ by Terry Fewtrell (Second President) 2006


Jack Fahy (First President) and Terry Fewtrell (Second President) Photo: S.D. Searle 31 Aug. 2013





Message from the first President

‘National Wattle Day – first day of Spring’


Jack Fahy – First President of the Wattle Day Association


As the wattle blossoms gold to welcome in the Australian spring, let us celebrate being Australian.

We are extremely fortunate and blessed to be who we are and to live on our island continent.

Being Australian is, as with everything else, in a constant state of change. There is not a thing that you see, hear or think which is not changing. So let us not think that being Australian means conforming to a rigid set of values, traditions or stereotypes from the past.. To be Australian 250 years ago would have meant being a nomadic Aboriginal; 150 years ago, it may have been a British settler.

Today we are a multicultural Australia with some wonderful traditions and systems. What will we be in 50 years time?

“Australia’s national colours of green and gold are those of the Golden Wattle tree in flower.”[1] It is also our national floral emblem.

The land seems to have given us the symbol to celebrate being Australian and it is for ALL Australians.

Let us therefore celebrate being fortunate enough to have the gold and the beauty that is within us and within our land on National Wattle Day – the first day of Spring.

“Wear a sprig of wattle or something green and something gold.”

I hope that National Wattle Day becomes a celebration for ALL Australians and will lead us in this ever-changing world to aspire and evolve into being better Australians.

Jack Fahy
(1998 – 2007)

[1] Reference: “Australian Symbols”, Commonwealth of Australia 2000, ISBN 0 642 471312


Message from the first President  by Jack Fahy (First President of the Wattle Day Association)