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Top 20 Ways to Celebrate Australia Day in Melbourne

Home > Melbourne > Australia Day | Family | Fireworks | Free | Fun Things To Do | Kids | Lists
by Lionel (subscribe)
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Published December 21st 2012
Top 20 Ways to Celebrate Australia Day in Melbourne
While Australia Day celebrations in Sydney draw from the rich colonial history as Australia's oldest city, thereby producing major events centred around Sydney harbour, the Rocks and Darling Harbour, the scene is very different in Melbourne.

Photo by vfowler of Flickr

Melbourne heralds Australia Day with a gusto of multiculturalism that truly captures the nation's evolution over its 200 years. What was once a celebration of nationhood and national identify marked by Anglo-Saxon values is transformed into an Australia Day for everyone, regardless of race, language or religion.

The diverse multicultural background coupled with the love of the arts and open spaces in a vibrant city have produced a platter of free and charity events for all to enjoy. Here are the top 20 ways to celebrate Australia Day with Marvellous Melbourne.

Share the Australia Day Excitement Around
Photo by daveandlolo of Flickr

Although Melburnians may be a knowledgeable bunch, there's always new and interesting facts about Australia to help everyone better understand and appreciate Australia Day.

Share the excitement of Australia Day with your family and friends in the country and abroad by sending some interesting facts about Australia to them.

Families with kids can enjoy learning more about Australia Day through fun activities that will also help keep the little ones busy throughout the school holidays.

Loads of free resources including colouring-in sheets with flags, state birds and fauna, state flora emblems, puzzles and quizzes can be downloaded at to help make Australia Day more meaningful for you and your kids.

Join the Australian Unity Great Australia Day Swim

Photo courtesy of the Australian Unity Great Australia Day Swim

At 7.45am, over 2,000 locals are expected swim off from the Middle Brighton pier. Another 1,000 spectators will be supporting family members and friends and enjoying the entertainment and barbeque to makes the the Australian Unity Great Australia Day Swim a great way to start Australia Day in Melbourne. Hosted by the Brighton Rotary, the 4th annual event that runs till 2pm features a 5,000m swim, 1,400m swim, 650m swim, Junior Dash and celebrity relay. It is supported by former AFL player and Bayside resident, Trent Croad as well as swimming legend Michael Klim and his Olympic swim team. All entrants receive a complimentary gear bag, event T shirt, sports cap, swim cap, Powerade drink, fruit and ice cream. Visit for more information and details on how to register.

Enjoy a RACV Big Brekkie

Alexandra Gardens will become the venue for a multicultural breakfast to kick off Australia Day Melbourne-style from 8am to 10am. Thanks to the good folks at RACV, entry is free and you can sample a variety of cultural food including Turkish, African and Vietnamese just for a gold coin donation. RACV has also organsied live entertainment with performance from Simon Lewis who will be showcasing his uniquely Australian soundscape and Tommy the Noodle Man to keep the children amused. You can also win an iPad2 by contributing your favourite Australia Day recipe on the RACV recipe wall in the gardens or via the Australia Day website at

Open Day at Government House

The Government House opens its doors to the public for free from 10am to 3pm. This majestic property sits amongst 11 hectares of gardens and grounds in the centre of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Governor Alex Chernov and Mrs Chernov welcome visitors to enjoy the sights of this large and unique country estate in the city including the main house, kitchen, stables, courtyards and the grounds. Music, refreshments and children entertainment are also included in the visit. For more details visit

Join in the RACV Australia Day Picnic and Federation Vehicle Display

Thanks again to the generosity of RACV, a much-loved annual free event is taking place in the picturesque Kings Domain Gardens. The RACV Australia Day Picnic is packed with countless activities, displays and give-aways from 10am to 4pm to entertain all adults and children. South East Water will also provide a hydration station to refill visitors' water bottles. Some of the highlights include:

Display of more than 500 vintage, veteran and classic vehicles.

Live performance by legendary jazz trumpeter James Morrison and his band between 12pm and 2pm.

More than 80 dogs competing in the RACV Flyball Competition.

Soccer for under 5 year olds with soccer time kids.

Make your own take-home bird feeder for under 16 year olds.

Special birthday cake celebration for 26ers or Victorians born on 26 January at the main stage with happy birthday sing along at 2pm.

Have fun with Arts Centre's kids program.

Handle baby animals and learn about alpacas.

Try vision simulation goggles with Guide Dogs Victoria.

Photo by Flying Cloud of Flickr

Summer at the National Gallery of Victoria

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) will be offer free admission to its NGV Collection on Australia Day from 10am to 5pm. Exhibitions include the Contemporary Indonesian Art of Jompet Kuswidananto & Eko Nugroho, Ballet & Fashion, Contemporary Photography, The Four Horsemen - Apocalypse, Death and Disaster and Kids Space - An Excellent Adventure. There are also free exhibitions at NGV's Ian Potter Centre including Contemporary Australian Art, just sing what you feel, Containment - 2012 Cicely & Colin Rigg, Contemporary Design Award and TEES. With so many free exhibitions at NGV, you can enjoy a Summer Australia Day with great art. Visit for further information.

Australia Day Flag Raising Ceremony
Photo by vfowler of Flickr

The Australia Day Flag Raising Ceremony takes place at 10.30am in front of the Melbourne Town Hall with the Governor of Victoria, the Honourable Alex Chernov officiating. Joining him and thousands of spectator will be the Royal Australian Navy Band Detachment and a Full Royal Guard consisting of 104 personnel from the three Defence services.

The Australia Day March

Photo by Me!bourne Mermaid of Flickr

The completion of the Flag Raising Ceremony heralds the start of the annual Australia Day March where crowds of thousands are expected to gather from 11am to 12pm. This colourful parade along Swanston Street towards Kings Domain Gardens is a showcase of Victoria's ethnic diversity through a variety of performances and joined by different nationalities who became Australian citizens on Australia Day.

Photo by vfowler of Flickr

Sheep and Wool Experience

Not forgetting that much of Australia and Victoria's prosperity was built on the back of sheep, Australia Day events include the wooly friends from 11am to 4pm at the Alexandra Gardens, adjacent to the Richmond Rowing Club. This free family event includes close-ups with the sheep and wool, sheep shearing demonstrations and knitting activities with "Knit-One-Give-One" that help produce wool garments for charity.

Celebrate at Docklands

Docklands' Harbour Esplanade and Piazza on New Quay will be transformed between 11am to 4pm on Australia Day, into a hive of activity with games and roving entertainment that will make for a great Australian family day out. Highlights include:

Fishing with the experts - Experts will be in attendance to share fishing tips with visitors. Free fishing rods are available for children aged 5 to 16 years subject to availability. Fishing rods, bait and tackle are also available for hire of up to 1 hour.

Woolworths will be offering sizzling sausages with donations to the Royal Children's Hospital from 11am to 3pm

Darrell Lea will be giving away green and gold liquorice with pineapple and green apple flavours to celebrate the Australia Day and its revival.

12pm to 1pm will feature a Great Aussie Thong Throwing competition with fantastic prizes to be won.

Free kite making from 12pm to 3pm.

Look to the Sky

Photo by ultrakml of Flickr

Weather permitting, the Royal Australian Air force's elite aerobatic team, the Roulettes, will be delivering their aerial flyover and display over King's Domain Gardens.

Celebrate at Federation Square

Federation Square will be transformed into a free activity centre on Australia Day. During the day, a book market, community activities, free health and well-being classes will fill the Square. There will also be a Big Screen Presentation by ACMI and the National Film & Sound Archive running throughout the day on "The Secret History of Melbourne" where visitors can view rare and remarkable cinematic curios about Melbourne from its earliest to the present day.

By 4.30pm, the entire area will become a free live concert devoted to independent Australian music and indie bands. Visit: for more information.

Film Screenings by Australian Centre for the Moving Image

Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Federation Square will be screening 2 special films on Australia Day. They include Wayne Blair's crowd-pleasing, foot-tapping "The Sapphires" at 11am and Peter Weir's "Picnic at Hanging Rock" at 4pm. Visit for more information on ticket prices and bookings.

Family Day at Melbourne Aquarium

Melbourne Aquarium is offering a AUD60 family special for 2 adults and 2 children to visit a new exhibit housing the largest collection of sea-dragons and seahorses in the world on Australia Day between 9.30am to 6pm. Visit for more information.

Yours, Mine, Ours at Immigration Museum

Photo by eGuide Travel of Flickr

The Immigration Museum is hosting an exhibition from 10am to 5pm to help visitors get a fresh perspective at personal identity and what it means to belong or not belong in Australia. It looks into how our cultural heritage, languages, beliefs and family connections influence our self-perceptions and our perceptions of other people. Entry is AUD10 for adults and free for children and concessions. Visit for more information.

Free Tour of Melbourne Town Hall

The hallways, chamber and portico of Melbourne Town Hall is open to visitors on Australia Day. Hourly tours conducted at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm will provide you with an interesting view of this historic property completed in 1870 and insight in to the city's cultural and civic life. Reservations for the limited spaces can be organised by calling 9658 9658 or emailing

March Past and Flag Lowering Ceremony

The Shrine of Remembrance will play host to the March Past and Flag Lowering Ceremony at 4.20pm. Wreaths will be laid and an Ode will be read in the Second World War forecourt, in the vicinity of the Eternal Flame, adjacent to the Shrine.

B# Big Band Australia Day Concert

A free concert featuring a 17 piece B# Big Band will be held at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl between 2pm to 4.30pm thanks to the support of the good folks at Australia Day (Victoria) and Arts Centre Melbourne. There will also be a jazz, swing and dance band playing music from the 30s, 40s and 50s to get everyone into the swing of Australia Day.

Trans Turkish Express Australia Day Concert

Thanks to the efforts of Multicultural Arts Victoria , Australia Day (Victoria) and Arts Centre Melbourne, the Sidney Myer Music Bowl will be transformed into a giant Turkish party from 7pm to 9.30pm with everyone shimmying and shaking down to the sounds of modern day Turkey with reggae-fuelled Oriental funk and Arabian rock. The party will also included performances by whirling dervishes, gypsy belly dancers and a traditional Ottoman marching band.

Australia Day Fireworks

Photo by Ryan Buterbaugh of Flickr

To close Australia Day celebrations in Melbourne on a loud and bright note, the night sky will be ablazed with fireworks. Recommended viewing areas include Federation Square, Birrarung Marr, the banks of Yarra River and Sidney Myer Music Bowl.
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Why? Here are the top 20 ways to celebrate Australia Day Melbourne-style
When: From 8am on 26 January 2013
Where: All around Melbourne
Cost: Events are mostly free
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