What Australians Do on Australia Day

Australia Day

Have you visited Australia for the Australia Day celebrations?  Countries around the world celebrate their Foundation Days in different ways e.g. 4th July which is Independence Day in the USA and France’s Bastille Day on the 14th of July.

Australians celebrate as well but what Australians do on Australia Day is quite different from other countries. Ferrythons, thong throwing competitions, putting a snag on the barbie are some of the fun things but there is a serious side as well.

To the many Aborigines of Australia, it is not a celebration but one of loss.  It was the arrival of the white man to their shores, which changed their lives. They lost their lands, their people, their right to maintain their culture.  Slowly we are recognising their sadness, their loss.  Some call Australia Day ‘survival day’ or even ‘invasion day’.

Australia Day


When is Australia Day

Australia Day is celebrated on the 26th January each year.

What is Australia Day

Australia Day is the commemoration of the founding of the colony of NSW in 1788 when the First Fleet of 11 convict ships arrived from Great Britain. It is one of the most popular Australian Public Holidays not only for Australians but visitors to Australia.

When Was The First Australia Day

The very first Australia Day was actually called Foundation Day and it was celebrated in 1838 on the 26th January.

When Was Foundation Day Changed to Australia Day

Foundation Day was changed to Australia Day in 1935.  All Australian States recognised Australia Day except for NSW who called it Anniversary Day.

In 1946 NSW changed the name from Anniversary Day to Australia Day.

(updated 2019)

For more on the history of Australia we can recommend the book by Robert Hughes called the Fatal Shore.

The Australia Day Holiday can be celebrated on the day itself but if it falls on a weekend the following Monday is also classified as an Australia Day Public Holiday. Much to the delight of working Australians.

It is a day where Australians come together to be proud of their nation and their nation’s achievements.  New citizens attend citizenship ceremonies where they pledge their allegiance to the nation.  Many events are organised throughout the land, BBQ’s are lit, beaches are packed and fireworks explode across city skylines.

Australia Day

Australian food such as lamingtons, pavlovas and the old snag on the barbie is consumed and washed down by ice cold beer and wine.  Aussie flags are hung from balconies, flutter from car windows and are painted on children’s faces.

In particular, Australia Day is all about family and friends, food, sun, beach and fun.

Australia Day Sydney 

Australia Day

Australia Day Fireworks Sydney Harbour

Between the hours of 7.45 am and 8.30 am head down to Sydney’s Barangaroo Reserve to watch a traditional Aboriginal smoking ceremony and Aboriginal Indigenous dance performance.  Local elders will welcome in Australia Day.

At the Sydney Opera House, you can enjoy the Australia Day Concert.

A Sydney Harbour Cruise for 3 hours to enjoy the activities such as the Ferry Race, Tall Ships Race and the Tug and Yacht Ballet is a must.

A 4 hour Sydney Harbour Cruise with lunch included.

An Australia Day Sydney Harbour Cruise on the Tall Ships for dinner with a viewing of the fireworks.

Australia Day Lunch and Upclose to the Ferrython Cruise for 3 hours. This is one of the most popular cruises and sells out very quickly.

Australia Day Dinner and Fireworks Cruise on Sydney Harbour departing at 7 pm. Duration 3 hours.

Where to stay in Sydney to view the Fireworks on the Harbour:

The Rocks area of Sydney is perfect to see the evening fireworks at 9 pm.

Australia Day

Official Australia Day Sydney Website

How to celebrate Australia Day in Sydney – Northern Beaches

Our home on the Northern Beaches of Sydney celebrates Australia Day in a big way starting off with the Big Breakfast and enjoying camel rides and thong throwing competitions.

1.  Family and Friends get together on Australia Day in the Sydney Suburb of Dee Why for the Big Breakfast

Family Fun

Family Fun


Between 7 am and 2 pm in Dee Why, a northern beaches suburb of Sydney celebrate Australia Day in the local park. Locals are so keen to get the best spot they set up their tents the night before.

2.  Australia Day Food

The Big Breakfast

The Big Breakfast

How about throwing a snag (sausage)on the barbie for your friends and family to enjoy?

The other popular breakfast item is the traditional bacon and egg sandwich.

Bacon and egg sandwich



Putting a snag on the barbie!

Putting a snag on the barbie!

3.  Sun on the Northern Beaches of Sydney

Dee Why Beach

Dee Why Beach

The Northern Beaches of Sydney has over 23 beaches to choose from.  Visitors and locals head to the beaches early to enjoy some rest and relaxation. The 23 beaches start from Manly and finish in Palm Beach. Palm Beach is the film set for the Australian popular series Home and Away.

4.  Fun

Have you tried your hand at an Aussie Thong Throwing Competition? Thongs are known in other parts of the world as ‘flip flops’ but in Australia they are thongs.

What happens in a Thong Throwing Competition?

Legend states that the thong throwing competition started as early as when the convicts first arrived into our fair land.  The convicts reportedly threw their thongs (in those days I would presume their shoes if they were lucky enough to have a pair) at the guards.  If they hit the guards, they won.  Apart from being crowned the Best Thong Thrower they were put into solitary confinement for a year.

These days bins replace guards.

There are rules to abide by according to the National Australia Day Council:

  • the highest number of throws that hit the garbage bins win
  • bins have to be placed at different distances from the start of the throwing point
  • allocate points to each bin, of course the further the bin is away from the throwing point the higher the mark
  • there is even a point if you hit or skim the outside of a bin
  • each player gets 5 throws one after another on their turn
  • if the thong hits the bin or goes inside the bin a point is scored
  • after the five throws the points are recorded
  • when each player has thrown the highest score wins



Thong Throwing Competitions

Thong Throwing Competitions

Or camel riding along the beach?

Camel Rides on the Beach

Camel Rides on the Beach

Australia Day Melbourne

Australia Day

Melbourne Skyline

Melbourne’s events include:

Choose between an afternoon or evening 3-hour cruise on the Lady Cutler Showboat.

Australia Day Flag Raising Melbourne

There is the official flag raising ceremony at Melbourne’s Town Hall between 10.30 and 11.30am.

Australia Day Parade

Location: Swanston Street

Time: 11 am to 11.45 am

80 community groups and over 1000 participants parade Swanston Street in Melbourne dancing and singing.

Australia Day Festival at Kings Domain Gardens

From 11 am to 4 pm.

Vibrant street food in the Food Truck Park, main stage performances and a Roulettes flyover at 12.30 pm.

Australia Day Docklands Melbourne Fireworks

The fireworks are planned for 9 pm at Melbourne’s Docklands.

Where to stay in Melbourne to view the fireworks: Docklands 

Australia Day

Official Australia Day Melbourne Website.

Australia Day Brisbane

Australia Day

Southbank Brisbane

Brisbane’s events include:

Australia Day on the Green at Southbank from 1.00 pm

Live music on River Quay

Australia Day Fireworks at Southbank 7.30pm

The best viewing points are:

  • Clem Jones Promenade
  • Cultural Forecourt
  • River Quay

Where to Stay in Brisbane for Australia Day

Australia Day


Australia Day Adelaide

Australia Day

Australia Day Adelaide Fireworks over the city

Adelaide’s events include:

Smoking Ceremony

The Smoking Ceremony will be held at Elder Park (Tarntanya) at 7 am.

Australia Day Concert at Elder Park begins at 7 pm:

  • On the grass in front of the Adelaide Casino, Intercontinental Hotel and Adelaide Convention Centre

Australia Day Fireworks at 9.45 pm from the River Torrens for the best vantage point.

Where to Stay in Adelaide for Australia Day

Australia Day

Official Website for Australia Day Adelaide

Australia Day Canberra

Australia Day


Canberra’s events include:

Music and Fireworks

Venue: Regatta Point and Patrick White Lawns

From 4 pm finishing with the fireworks at 9 pm.

Flag Raising Ceremony

Rond Terrace Parkes from 9 am

Chief Minister’s Australia Day Regatta

Canberra Yacht Club from 2.45 pm to 3. 30 pm.

Where to Stay in Canberra For Australia Day

Australia Day

Official Website Australia Day Canberra

Australia Day Darwin

Australia Day

Darwin’s Fun Run Australia Day

Darwin’s Australia Day events include:

Oz FunRun from 6 am to 8 am at the Darwin Waterfront. A 3 or 5km walk or run event.

Australia Day Ute Run (Charity event) Hidden Valley 9.30 am to 11.30am

Where To Stay in Darwin for Australia Day

Australia Day

Official Website of Australia Day Darwin

Australia Day Perth

Australia Day

Perth Skyline

Perth’s events include:

Skyworks at Langley Park from 3.30pm to 8.30pm for free events and then the evening fireworks.

Kings Park 21 gun salute at midday and entertainment from 3 pm.

Where To Stay in Perth for Australia Day

Australia Day

Official Website Australia Day Perth

Australia Day Hobart

Australia Day


Hobart’s events include:

Australia Day on the Bellerive Boardwalk

Breakfast and music from 8.30 am.

Citizenship ceremony commences from 10.30am


Where to Stay in Hobart for Australia Day

Australia Day


Australians sure do know how to party!  If you haven’t joined us for an Australia Day celebration why don’t you head down under for next year’s celebrations?  We would love to have you. Wear your thongs, bring your barbie and snags and of course don’t forget the sunscreen!


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