Australia's national day celebrates everything that's great about being Australian.
Australians celebrate their national day – Australia Day – on 26 January with a public holiday. The day marks the anniversary of the First Fleet's arrival in Sydney in 1788. A huge line-up of events takes place around the country, including concerts, beach parties and parades that bring together communities from all cultures. Here's how to enjoy it.
- Where: National
- When: 26 January
- Price: The main events are free
How to get there
During Australia's major events there may be road closures in place in capital cities, so public transport is the most reliable way to get around. Plan your trip before you go via the public transport websites and leave plenty of travelling time.
Things to do on Australia Day
Take in spectacular firework displays
Australians love a fireworks display and some of the biggest and best take place on Australia Day. In Brisbane head to the South Bank Parklands to hear local musicians, eat your way through pop-up food stalls and watch the evening fireworks illuminate the city skyline. While you're there, take a dip at Streets Beach, Australia's only inner city man-made beach. In Perth head to Langley Park in the city centre, overlooking the Swan River, to enjoy family-friendly entertainment such as carnival rides and a petting zoo where you can get up close with Australia's animals. It's also the best spot to watch the fireworks and laser show over the water. In Melbourne head to the inner city precinct of Docklands to see the evening fireworks and relax at a bar along the waterfront. And if you're in Sydney, Darling Harbour will host a jam-packed schedule of entertainment throughout the day, as well as fireworks from 9pm.
Enjoy a classic beach barbecue
Australia Day falls right in the middle of the Australian summer (December to February), and is often celebrated outdoors in parks or on the beach. Pack a picnic and become an honorary Australian for the day: eat a lamington (sponge cake coated in chocolate sauce and coconut), don an Akubra hat or wear the national sporting colours of green and gold. In Sydney there are plenty of parks with barbecue facilities, including Bronte, the Grassy Knoll at North Bondi and Centennial Park. It has also become a Sydney tradition to buy a neon inflatable float and spend the day on the water.
Catch an outdoor concert or street parade
On Australia Day you can enjoy concerts and outdoor performances in many of Australia’s capital cities. In Adelaide Elder Park attracts crowds of more than 40,000 for its street parade, fireworks and concert, which in previous years has been headlined by Human Nature, Jimmy Barnes and Sneaky Sound System. In Melbourne thousands of people turn out to watch the annual Australia Day parade along Swanston Street. Meanwhile, in Melbourne's northern suburb of Kensington, a 15 minute drive from the city centre, you can enjoy billy cart racing, live entertainment from local artists and market stalls. Australia Day also falls during the Sydney Festival, head to their website to see what performances are scheduled for 26 January.
See the famous ferry race
The Ferrython is an Australia Day tradition in Sydney. At 11am specially decorated commuter ferries take off from Circular Quay to race each other over to Shark Island in the inner harbour and back to the finishing post under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. While there are no seats available on the ferries themselves, visitors can grab a front-row view of the race by heading to Circular Quay or the Sydney Opera House, or strolling across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.