Labour Day

Eight Hours Work, Eight Hours Rest, and Eight Hours Recreation

Are you are celebrating Labour Day with a day off work in May, like we are here in QLD?

Thank a protesting worker!


8 Hour Day monument in Melbourne

The first protest action for an eight-hour day for workers in Australia happened in Melbourne on 21 April 1856.

Stonemasons and construction workers downed tools and marched from the University of Melbourne to Parliament House.

You can walk the route today - it's about 2 kms and will take you around half an hour.

Their direct action was a success, and they were among the first organised workers in the world to achieve an 8-hour day, with no loss of pay.

So on Labour Day we celebrate people power too!


An elegant gold-topped monument marks the occasion at the corner of Russell and Victoria Streets in Melbourne.


rusty fig Take a short walk, and just round the corner from the historic monument, in the RMIT campus you'll see the Exceptional Fig Tree 170.

This is a Port Jackson ficus, or rusty fig (Ficus rubiginosa), named for the velvety light brown leaf undersides and stems. It's worth a detour!

Find out more about this ancient fig tree, now part of the City of Melbourne's Exceptional Tree Register.


The Tree Register is not just for Melbourne - there's a National Register of Significant Trees too.

Find your nearest significant tree - and nominate your own historic living monument!


river red gums While at RMIT's Bundoora campus, you can see more historic and even more ancient trees - like native river red gums.

The gums in the campus here are scar trees over 400 years old.

Take a virtual walk through this ancient red gum woodland, which includes lemon gum, peppercorn, and wetlands for wildlife.


Hunter St Newcastle 1890

NSW wharf workers and their horses in 1906

George St Sydney 1909

Bourbong St Bundaberg 1912 Here's some historical Labour Day processions marking the protest movement's achievement -
Hunter St Newcastle 1890,
NSW wharf workers and their horses in 1906,
George St Sydney 1909 (very well supported!),
Bourbong St Bundaberg 1912.

Enjoy the extra gardening day!


8 Hour Day movement

Monument images : John Englart; red river gums : denisbin; rusty fig : John Tann.