Our national day of celebration here in Australia is a major public holiday. It’s a fun-infused day with many events and festivities going on in every major city and every tiny town. There are many events going on during the days leading up to the 26th and on the actual day you will find many fun things to do around the country, day and night festivities, as well as incredible fireworks displays. It’s that day of the year when everyone brings out their Aussie flags and face paint, and Aussie tunes are roaring out of every speaker.
January 26th refers to the date that the first British fleet of ships arrived in Australia. Although a celebration of colonialism originally, Australia now celebrates its diverse cultures that make it the great place it is today. As well as attending Australia Day parades or barbecues, some people choose to attend “Invasion Day” parties, protests and celebrations in solidarity with Aboriginal people.
Remember to think ahead when it comes to Australia Day. This is a massive day in Australia, and one where many Australians take the opportunity to jump in their campervans. So, think ahead and book ahead of time if possible. As for the free campsites, these are always a great option, but there is never a guarantee that there will be space on public holidays such as this one, so make sure you have a backup plan.
Wherever you might have your campervan parked up, you will be sure to find something fun to do on Australia Day regardless of where you are. For a little helping hand, below are a few lists of events going on in the major cities across Australia. For other parts of the country you can check out the official Australia Day website below.
The traditional Gun Salute takes place each year at the Shrine of Remembrance by the 2nd and 10th Light Battery. This is a traditional military ceremony, well worth seeing while visiting Australia.
Corner of St Kilda Road and Domain Road
(03) 9661 8100
Bikini & Watergun Party
Want a memorable event to celebrate Australia Day with? This is it! Come with your favourite bikini or swimsuit (under your clothes) and dance the night away to electro, dance, hip hop and reggaeton at this very Ibiza-inspired event. Be prepared for a wet combat!
52 Albert Street, South Melbourne
(03) 9690 7877
10pm – 5am (January 25th)
Australia Day at Docklands
Lots of food, drinks, painted faces, Aussie flags, and entertainment for big and small kids alike. The day is full of sun and fun, and the evening is made complete with a breathtaking display of fireworks.
NewQuay Piazza & Promenade, Docklands
(03) 9682 0222
4pm – 11pm
Sydney Vintage Bus Ride
The city’s green and yellow double decker heritage buses come out of hiding once a year for Australia Day. This is really a special event, one that is worth getting on board with… no pun intended! All it costs is a gold coin, and off you will go to experience a vintage ride from Sydney Opera House to Central Station, via Hyde Park.
Selected streets around the CBD (downtown)
10:30am – 5pm
Darling Harbour Australia Day
This is the quintessential Australia Day celebration. The entire day is spectacularly planned with Australian music performances and DJs, music for every kind of taste, as well as food for every kind of taste. The traditional Australia Day ceremony is a touching event as are the phenomenal fireworks.
Darling Harbour, Sydney
12pm – 9pm
Be entertained by the best music acts that Australia has to offer and some fun circus performances for something a little different. Eat to your heart’s content with an array of food and drinks to choose from.
Hyde Park North, Sydney CBD
12pm – 12am
BRISBANE & QUEENSLAND
Australia Day Dinner Cruise
Take a 3-hour ride on the Brisbane River’s heritage boat, The Kookaburra. With an Aussie-inspired three course meal, live music and a front row view of the fireworks, this is the perfect setting for Australia Day. Tickets are $79.
If you are driving around North Queensland there are some great Australia Day options to be had. In 2016 The Great Australian Bite will take place in three fun locations around Queensland –Brisbane, Airlie Beach and Port Douglas. The events are free, full of fun and food, and seaside breezes. The food will be an experience within itself –with local chefs honing their culinary skills for all to enjoy.
Rex Smeal Park, Port Douglas – Tuesday 26th January, 11am – 3:30pm
River Quay, South Bank Parklands, Brisbane – Saturday 23rd, Sunday 24th and Tuesday 26th from 11am – 9pm and Monday 25th from 4pm – 9pm.
Australia Day Plays
Every year the Redland Museum puts on a special Australia Day performance, celebrating the Australian spirit. The plays are generally quirky and fun, showing another side of Australian life and culture. This is definitely worth a gander! Tickets are only $35, and matinee performances are $25.
Be a part of something kinda historic on Australia Day this year by breaking the record for the longest line of giant inflatable Havaianas. Bit silly? Maybe, but it’s also a bag full of fun! Online registration is $30, with $10 going to Surf Life Savers Australia. The event is topped with DJs, typical Aussie beach games and a fun tug-of-war. A truly Aussie atmosphere to say the least!
8am – 5pm | Beach Activities start at 9:30 | World Record starts at 10:20
Other locations around Australia: North Bondi (NSW), Torquay (VIC), Glenelg (SA) and Mooloolaba (QLD)
Australia Skyworks, BBQ & Laser Show
This is Australia’s largest community celebration, held on the beautiful Swan River. Daytime activities include water park activities, carnival rides and food food, glorious food! There will be music to dance to, as well as some impressive aeronautic and aquatic stunts to marvel at. Before the fireworks begin, see the impressive 360-degree laser show, a definite must!
6pm – 10:30pm
Australia Day Celebrations in Bassendean
If you are not into big crowds, you can head to the north-eastern suburb of Bassendean for a more low key, family affair. You can pack a picnic lunch or enjoy the food vendors’ delights on site. Enjoy the sunshine, summer breeze and music before the evening’s grand finale fireworks display.
Ashfield Reserve on Guildford Road
5pm – 9pm
Written for ShareACamper – If you are traveling in Australia or New Zealand and you’d like a cheap campervan and to meet some cool peeps… this is the place to go!