Australia Day is an annual call out to everyone to remember what it truly means to be Australian and what Australia really means to us. It is a time to acknowledge all that we love about this great country and the people. While Melbourne celebrates the unique blend of colonial heritage and multiculturalism that is modern day Australia, Sydney commemorates the establishment of the first European settlement at Port Jackson on 26 January with lots of activities on and around the Sydney Harbour. As you think about flying the Australian flag, here are 10 top and FREE ways to get into the spirit and celebrate the official national day of Australia in Sydney.
Start Australia Day with FREE fun and entertainment in Australia's oldest public parkland located in the city. Kids can look forward their favourite characters from TV channel Nickelodeon throughout the day including Dora, SpongeBob SquarePants and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There will also be sports areas, face painting, balloon sculptures, story reading and superhero dress ups with a green screen for kids to have their photo taken flying over some iconic landmarks. The Lord Mayor's Citizenship Ceremony will commence at 11am and close with the singing of the national anthem during the Salute to Australia at midday as the RAAF jets fly overhead.
Time: 9am - 4pm Location: Hyde Park, Elizabeth Street, Sydney NSW
Head over to Macquarie and College Street for a grand display of over 700 vehicles on Australia Day. There are cars, buses, trucks and fire engines including vintage models more than a century old. You and your family can enjoy one of the largest FREE displays of automotives in the Southern Hemisphere.
Time: 9am - 5pm Location: Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Presented by Destination NSW, Australia's most recognised children's music group will be perform on Sydney Opera House stage. You and your family can enjoy the singing and dancing of the Wiggles alongside Dorothy the Dinosaur, Henry the Octopus, Wags the Dog and Captain Feathersword. Each family may only obtain a maximum of 4 tickets. Register to go into the draw to get your FREE tickets here.
Time: 10am - 11am Location: Sydney Opera House
Photo courtesy of Royal Australian Historical Society
You and your family can enjoy FREE entry into the heritage building and home of the Royal Australian Historical Society. Historians will be around to share insights into events, people and places that contributed to Australian history every half hour between 11:30am and 3pm.
Time: 10am - 4pm
Location: 133 Macquarie Street Sydney
Another annual spectacle on the water of Sydney Harbour during Australia Day is the Ferrython. You and your family can enjoy a picnic on the foreshore while watching Sydney's trademark ferries race from Circular Quay to Shark Island and back before finishing at the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Time: 11am - 11.45am
Location: Circular Quay and Sydney foreshore
Head over to Sydney Harbour where a grand ceremony and tribute to Australia by the armed forces will take place at 12pm. You and your family can join synchronised choirs as they sing the national anthem. This is followed by the Australian Army's 21 Gun Salute at Bradfield Park under the north side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a Salute from the Royal Australian Navy's flagship positioned between the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge and an aerial flyover of the Royal Australian Air Force Jets.
Location: Sydney Harbour between Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge
The popular Darling Harbour is celebrating Australia Day with a FREE program from day to night. Presented by Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, you and your family can enjoy a circus playground with skilled instructors from Circusworks in Palm Grove, live music from Indigenous to Latin in Darling Quarter, roving street performers and buskers from abroad and Australia, dancing at Pier 26 opposite Sydney SEA LIFE Aquarium, twilight concert on the water at Cockle Bay and the famous NSW Australia Day fireworks over Cockle Bay and Tumbalong Park. Check out the website for full details.
Sydney's historic area will celebrate Australia Day with an afternoon of FREE live music from home-grown artistes, Triple J's Hottest 100 and beat boxers at The Pit Stop. Locally designed fashion, jewellery and art are available from the market stalls and the tarmac of George Street will be replaced with AstroTurf and lawn games. Food and drinks are available from the Rocks Brewing Company open-air bar. Visit the website for more details.
Time: 12pm – 6pm
Location: George Street, First Fleet Park, and Atherden Street, The Rocks
One of the most iconic and anticipated events on Australia Day in Sydney is the Harbour Parade. Each year vessels of all shapes and sizes and decked out with colour and flags join the flotilla and parade around the Sydney harbour. This year's highlight includes a 15 metre long floating sea turtle by Australian artist BJPrice. Those planning to enter their vessel into the Parade and win a a share of $2,000 cash prizes for the Best Dressed Vessel must register before 22 January here.
An impressive fleet of historic vessels will marshal off Bradley's Head at 12:30pm and travel on the northern side of Fort Denison to finish under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The sight of numerous majestic white sails of the Tall ships is sure to amaze all spectators.
Time: 1pm - 1.45pm
Location: Bradley's Head to Sydney Harbour Bridge