What to do in Sydney on Australia Day

January 21st, 2015

Monday 26 January is a public holiday celebrated all around Australia. Australia Day is the anniversary of the arrival of the British First Fleet of ships at Port Jackson, now Sydney Harbour. These days, we celebrate our wonderful country and its great diversity* of people and cultures, including the Aboriginal people.

There are many exciting events on Australia Day. Lots of Aussies have a barbecue with friends in the sun, go to the beach, or go to one of the many fun events around Sydney. We have made a list for you of our choice of the best events in Sydney.

Sydney Harbour


Many people go to Sydney Harbour to watch the shows and celebrations. These include:

Ferrython: Cheer on Sydney’s ferries as they race from Circular Quay to Shark Island and back, 11am
Salute to Australia: 21 gun salute, 12 – 12.05pm, Bradfield Park (north side of Harbour Bridge)
Tug and Yacht Ballet: 12.05 – 12.15pm
Australia Day Harbour Parade: The boats are decorated and are led in a parade by Alphie the Sea Turtle, a giant sculpture. You can vote for your favourite boat, 12.30-2pm
Red Berets, Qantas Flyover and Russian Roolettes: Plane and sky shows, 12.45 – 2.15pm
Tall Ships Race: from Bradley’s Head to Sydney Harbour Bridge, 1 – 1.45pm
179th Australia Day Regatta: World’s oldest continuous sailing event, 1.15pm
P&O Cruise Ships Fireworks: Circular Quay, 8.30pm

Darling Harbour

Australia Day at The Rocks and Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour has spectacular celebrations, especially the evening fireworks. Click here for the official program.
• Circus Playground: 12 – 4.30pm, Palm Grove
• Dancing in the Street: 12.30 – 4pm, Pier 26
• Culture Beats Music Program: live music from around the world, 1 – 6pm, Darling Quarter
• Twilight Concert: 6 – 7pm, Floating Stage at Cockle Bay
• NSW Australia Day Spectacular: fireworks, effects, multimedia and music show, 7 – 9.15pm, Cockle Bay and Tumbalong Park
Havana Brown: International DJ and performer, 8.15 – 8.45pm, Darling Quarter
Oz Day Long Weekender: Five nights of parties at Cargo Bar, free before 10pm

The Rocks

Saskwatch Australia Day Rocks Sydney

The Rocks is a beautiful historic area of Sydney right next to the Harbour and Circular Quay. This is the place to peruse* the markets, see excellent live music, and have a traditional Aussie pub meal. Click here for the program on their website.
Oz Day 10k: Exciting wheelchair race, with a free barbecue, 9am-11am
The Rocks Markets: 11am – 6pm
• Rocks Brewing Co Open Air* Bar and Live Music: 12 – 6pm

Indigenous* Events

Aboriginal Child Indigenous Australian

Australia Day is also a time to honour the first people of our country, the Aboriginal people.

WugulOra Indigenous Ceremony: A special moment celebrating Australia’s traditional landowners, Northern Boardwalk, Sydney Opera House, 7.30 – 8am
Yabun Festival: A celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, with art, dance, music and speakers. Entry by gold coin donation, Victoria Park, Camperdown (short bus ride from Sydney CBD), 10am – 6pm

Hottest 100

Triple J Hottest 100 Australia Day

Australian alternative radio station Triple J (105.7 FM) has been hosting their Hottest 100 countdown on Australia Day since 1989. Many Australians have a barbecue or go to a listening party for the countdown. Who will be the winner?

• You can view the locations of listening parties around Australia here.

Sydney City

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Sample Sydney: many museums around the city are open for free. See the link for details.
CARnivale: over 700 different types of cars, from old to new, parked along Macquarie Street (very close to school), 9am – 5pm, Macquarie Street
Vintage* Bus Service: ride one of Sydney’s cool, old buses. Gold coin donation, 10.30am – 5pm, Bridge Street, Circular Quay to Central Station
Lord Mayor’s Citizenship Ceremony: welcome Australia’s newest citizens, 11.15am – 12pm, Hyde Park North

Sporting Events

Sydney SCG Cricket Australia India

• Cricket: Australia vs India, Carlton Mid One Day International Tri Series, 2.20pm, Sydney Cricket GroundELS is organising a trip to this match. Please see Reception to register.
• Football/Soccer: Semi Final, AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015, 8pm, Sydney Olympic Park
• Tennis: Australian Open fan zone: if you aren’t in Melbourne to watch the tennis, you can watch it live here with other fans. 11am – 8pm, Customs House Square, Circular Quay

Food & Drink


Sydney Fish Market: Sydney’s freshest fish and restaurants, with a live band, from 7am, Pyrmont
Fortune of War Pub Celebrations: Sydney’s oldest pub, since 1828, 9am – 10pm, The Rocks
• Hoppiest 100 Burger Bash: Gourmet burgers, beer and beats, 10am – 11.30pm, Two pubs: the Keg And Brew and the Dove and Olive.

Happy Australia Day – we wish you a wonderful day!

Happy Australia Day Koala

*peruse: to look at something and find what interests you
*open air: outdoors
*indigenous: the first people to live in a country – in Australia, the Aboriginal people
*vintage: old, often good quality