Sydney Australia Day events start early on 26 January. Traditional ceremonies, active events, here’s what’s on around the city.
For the history and background of Australia Day go to What is Australia Day? A short overview of why it exists and the issues around it. You’ll understand why the day is not just a straightforward celebration.
Australia Day Events Begin at Barangaroo
The day begins by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land and of the world’s oldest living culture. Aboriginal dancers and singers perform from 0745. The dancers are painted with symbolic Aboriginal body art and their tales link the past and the future.
Native plants will be burnt to produce smoke for the smoking ceremony which ritually honours ancestors and cleanses the land. The ceremonies and dances are moving and highly recommended.
From 0830 through to sunset there will be food and drink for sale, DJs and live music and games and activities to enjoy. It’s a good spot from which to watch the annual ferrython (1045-1115).
A feature of Australia Day is Yabun, celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. It’s held in Victoria Park in Camperdown, land of the Gadigal people.
The Day starts with an acknowledgement of country and a smoking ceremony which incorporates part of the flame from the earlier ceremony at Barangaroo.
This is followed by modern interpretations, in song and dance, of Aboriginal Dreamtime and important cultural stories.
Yabun includes Aboriginal arts, dance, music and speakers. There’s a non-stop line-up of bands, plenty of children’s activities, opportunities to explore issues and ideas and much more.
It gives locals and visitors an opportunity to join with indigenous Australians in commemorating and celebrating their past and present culture. You may not want to spend the whole day here but don’t miss it altogether. There’s a marketplace if you’re in the mood for buying.
Entry is free.
Time: From 1000 (10am) Runs all day
Place: Victoria Park, Camperdown.
Oz Day 10K Wheelchair Race
Australia Day events always include the Oz Day 10K, a fast-paced wheelchair road race around The Rocks.
It starts from Alfred Street in Circular Quay at 0900 (9am) and speeds through George Street, The Rocks and Hickson Road.
The race attracts an international field of elite wheelchair athletes.
But it’s our local hero, Kurt Fearnley, who won 9 consecutive titles before being pipped at the post for the 10th, that the crowd really cheers on.
Can he keep winning? The titles won’t be consecutive any more but hey, a title’s a title. Come and see. The event is all over by 1030 (10.30am).
Once the race is over the Rocks reverts to its swinging self for the rest of the day – music, markets, great coffee.
Visit the Warrane DJ stage for non-stop music. Lots of people stay around. Most of the action goes on into the evening.
Getting Around: Sydney Travel Tips
Many things are within easy walking distance.
But it might still be fun to use the vintage bus service between many January events.
A fleet of vintage buses from the Sydney Bus Museum will service specially marked stops along
- George Street
- Bridge Street
- Phillip Street
- Elizabeth Street
- Eddy Avenue
They’ll run from 1030 to 1700 (10.30am – 5pm).
For a gold coin donation you can travel back in time as you go to your next destination.
More Australia Day Events
A lot of Sydney is open and buzzing on Australia Day. Each year’s Australia Day events are a little different. So before you set out, check the official website for what’s on.
- Sydney Harbour hosts continuous action: ferry races, army flyovers and much more
- Darling Harbour puts on a full day of entertainment with a family focus
- Macquarie Street has a classic car show
- The Rocks offers music, performances and markets
- The Overseas Passenger Terminal has a chill out zone with entertainment all day – and hosts a citizenship ceremony in the afternoon
Get more Australia Day information here.