Do you know the history of Australia Day? We've uncovered three must-know facts.
Do you know the history of Australia Day? We've uncovered three must-know facts. Lighthousebay

3 things to know about Australia Day before you complain

THE idea of changing Australia Day has been an ongoing debate, but even some the country's politicians don't understand why we celebrate January 26.

In recent times, certain local councils have tried to change the date of their citizenship ceremonies out of respect for our indigenous people, but have been criticised by the government, with Byron Shire Council recently told they were to be stripped of their right to hold the ceremonies.

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison raised the call for another day to recognise indigenous Australians.

There's been a lot of distress about the idea of changing Australia Day but the date hasn't always been so set in stone.

The naming of Australia Day took almost 150 years and it was not always held on January 26.

Here's a brief history:

1. January 26 isn't when Captain Cook landed

In 1770 Captain Cook declared Australia terra nullius - nobody's land.

So, Australia Day marks the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove on January 26, 1788, which was commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip.

On this day they raised the Union Jack in Sydney Cove. It was the official declaration of British sovereignty on the land that would become Australia.

Captain Cook had been dead for nine years at that point.

2. The tradition of the national holiday is a recent one

Initially, it was only New South Wales that celebrated the day. In 1838, 50 years after the First Fleet arrived, Foundation Day was declared Australia's first public holiday in New South Wales.

In 1888, representatives from Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and New Zealand joined NSW leaders in Sydney to celebrate the Centenary. What had begun as a NSW anniversary was becoming an Australian one.

But the January 26 public holiday was only declared in 1994.

3. It wasn't always called Australia Day

Australia Day was called "Foundation Day" or "Landing Day" in the early part of the nineteenth century, and was typically marked by sporting events including horse racing and boat races.

It was not until the 1940s did all the Australian states and territories use that name to mark that date.