Picnic Day (Australian holiday)
Picnic Day in Pine Creek, 1937
|Observed by||Northern Territory, Australia|
|Date||First Monday in August|
|2015 date||August 3|
|2016 date||August 1|
|2017 date||August 7|
|2018 date||August 6|
Picnic Day events in the Northern Territory date back to the late 1800s. They were held in a variety of locations such as Adelaide River, Brunette Downs Station and Glencoe Paddock at differing times of year.
A regular annual Union Picnic Day or Trade Picnic Day was observed at Adelaide River by railway employees working on the North Australia Railway. The date of the first event is not known. The event included Public Works employees on some occasions.[a] Between 1926 and 1935 a railway Picnic Day event was not held. An attempt was made to revive the holiday in 1933, but it was not officially observed again until three years later. On Monday 5 October 1936, a train transported people from Darwin to Adelaide River, leaving at 7am returning at 11pm. The hotel at Adelaide River recorded record sales and the train was "forced to stop often as a number of male Darwin passengers fell off at various points along the line".
The Harts Range Races in Central Australia are held each Picnic Day long weekend. The races began in 1946, when three brothers Bennett, Qinton and Kil Webb from Mount Riddock Station raced stockman Jack Schaber and the regional policeman Senior Constable Bob Darken over a distance of about a mile to the Ulgarna Yards to determine who had the fastest horse. The event inspired the first formal racing meet at Harts Range in November 1947. It became an annual event.[b]
- A popular but unsubstantiated belief is that Picnic Day commemorates the freeing of Chinese Coolie indentured labourers who built the North Australia Railway. According to the story, the Chinese workers were granted the right to stay in Australia and provided with sufficient money for a steamer fare to Hong Kong, but instead decided to go to Adelaide River for a picnic. No sources can be found to verify this story.
- In Central Australia, a popular theory is that the Picnic Day holiday began with the first race meeting at Harts Range Races in 1947, but the Picnic Days observed elsewhere in the Northern Territory predate this.
- "Tablelands Race Meeting.". Northern Territory Times And Gazette. XVI, (932). Northern Territory, Australia. 11 September 1891. p. 3. Retrieved 17 July 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Classified Advertising". Northern Territory Times And Gazette. XIX, (1050). Northern Territory, Australia. 15 December 1893. p. 2. Retrieved 17 July 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- "Adelaide River School turns 50". Department of Education and Training. Northern Territory Government. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
- "COMMONWEALTH RAILWAYS.". Northern Territory Times And Gazette. Northern Territory, Australia. 24 July 1920. p. 5. Retrieved 14 July 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- "RAILWAY PICNIC". Northern Standard (69). Northern Territory, Australia. 1 September 1936. p. 1. Retrieved 14 July 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- "RAILWAY PICNIC REVIVAL". Northern Standard (59). Northern Territory, Australia. 12 September 1933. p. 7. Retrieved 14 July 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- "RAILWAY PICNIC". Northern Standard (71). Northern Territory, Australia. 8 September 1936. p. 8. Retrieved 14 July 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- "DARWIN'S DAY OUT". Kalgoorlie Miner. 42, (10,761). Western Australia. 6 October 1936. p. 4. Retrieved 14 July 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
- Darken, Bob. "Club History". Harts Range Ameteur Racing Club. Retrieved 14 July 2016.