Recreation Day occurs on the first Monday of every November. It is a public holiday in Tasmania that only applies in the northern half of the state.
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Note: All parts of Tasmania which do not observe Royal Hobart Regatta.
It was originally instituted because Hobart and southern Tasmania had one more holiday than did the northern parts of the island, but there is no historic or cultural significance to why it is celebrated. The holiday is centred especially in Launceston, though it is observed in towns throughout the region. It was called “First Monday of November Holiday” from 1919, when it was instituted under the Bank Holidays Act, until 1989, when its named was changed to Recreation Day.
In 1991, the date was changed to November 11th for that year only to fall on the same day as the Australian Pacing Championship in Launceston that year. Horse pacing is a sport where the horses must move at specified gaits while pulling a small, two-wheel cart termed a “sulky” behind them.
Recreation Day, however, continues to be regularly held on the first Monday in November. It is kept different ways by different people. Some relax at home with family and friends, doing chores or watching TV. Students often catch up on their studies, especially in Launceston, where the university library is open for the day.
Sports events, like “Aussie rules” football, cricket, and soccer are often played or attended. Many also get outside and enjoy the warm weather, for it is almost summer below the Equator in November.
Tourists, too, can basically write their own itinerary, for everyone seems to have a different idea of which kind of recreation will be most enjoyable on Recreation Day. Here are a few possibilities, however:
- Tour the city of Launceston. First, see its number one tourist attraction: Cataract Gorge and the thousand-foot-long chairlift run that will take you across it. Visit City Park downtown, which has a group of Japanese macaques to view, or the Tasmania Zoo, which engages in breeding Tasmanian Devils (an endangered species). You may also want to see the 130-year-old Launceston General Post Office and the art displays in the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery.
- Attend an Australian rules football match at Aurora Stadium (also called York Park), which is the largest football stadium on the island, holding up to 20,000 fans. You could also see the Launceston Warriors, members of the Tasmanian Rugby League, take to the fields for a rousing contest.
- Stop by the Aquatic Centre in Launceston. This is a huge pool complex with a professional competition pool complete with viewing stands. There are also “regular” and practice pools, besides kids’ pools, a water slide, a “splash park,” a spa, a diving tank, and outdoor swimming pools that open right around Recreation Day.