What is Australia Day you ask? For most Aussies it is a day off work, a reason to whip out the old Barbie and have a few too many beers. Most Aussies venture to a nearby backyard, beach or park with an Esky and a radio to tune into the nation’s favourite radio music countdown - the Triple J Hottest 100.

It is also a day to celebrate the multicultural identity of Australia as a nation, commemorating the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of 11 convict (yes... convict) ships from Great Britain. It's a day that communities across the nation come together in parties, fireworks and celebrations and if you are lucky enough to be in Australia for the country's favourite public holiday - then you are in for a treat! Here's our guide to what's happening on the East Coast this Australia Day.

Australia Day 2018

Australia Day in Melbourne

1. Australia Day Parade

Where: Swanston St to St Kilda Road, Melbourne City
Time: 11:00am - 12:00pm

The parade will begin following the official Australia Flag Raising Ceremony at Melbourne Town Hall at 11:00am. Each year the parade welcomes thousands of people in a sea of colour, making their way over Princess Bridge and into Kings Domain. The parade celebrates the different cultural communities in Melbourne and pays respect to the ANZACS. If you are catching the parade – make sure to get a glimpse of the 21 gun salute at the Shrine of Remembrance on the corner of St Kilda & Domain Road at midday

2. Australia Day Fireworks at the Docklands

Where: Docklands, Melbourne City
Time: 4:00pm - 11:00pm

This is the best place to catch the Australia Day fireworks with loads going on – Take a ride on the ‘Melbourne Eye,’ performances from the The Getaway Plan, Tim Rogers and live DJs. There will be an Aussie Sausage Sizzle, face painting, rides, abseiling walls and the fireworks display at about 9:45pm.

More info: here

3. Australian Open Tennis at Federation Square

Where: Federation Square, Melbourne City
Time: 9:00am onwards

If you're on a budget we recommend buying a Ground Pass to the Quarter Finals at the Australian Open on Australia Day. Ground Passes will set you back just $25 - $55 and allow you into the minor arenas, Beer Garden and throughout the Australian Open site. Although the Ground Pass tickets don't gain you access to the major courts, you can watch them on the big screen and the vibe is excellent! However, if you are on a SUPER budget, head on down to Federation Square to catch the Australian Open action on the big screen! The bars around Federation Square will be packed so get in nice and early.

Hit the Beach

St Kilda Beach will be the place to be this Australia Day. Locals and travellers flock to St Kilda every year with eskies, bathers and a portable radio to catch the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown. After heading into the city early afternoon to get the ‘cultural’ things done – we suggest getting there early as it will be PACKED! If you can, take some meat and fire up one of the public BBQs by St Kilda or Elwood Beach.

Hit the Gardens

St Kilda Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh Gardens (in Fitzroy), Carlton Gardens or the Royal Botanic Gardens are our favs – take a picnic rug, portable speaker, an esky and chill out with the locals!

Australia Day in Sydney

1. FREE Australia Day Party at Darling Harbour

Where: Darling Harbour, Sydney CBD
Time: 12:00pm - 9:15pm

Located just a short 5 minute walk from Base Sydney, Darling Harbour will be hosting a huge day of free Australia Day celebrations including a Fireworks display, live music from Aussie band Sneaky Sound System at Cockle Bay, live music, a sound playground, roaming performers and loads of free and interactive exhibitions.

2. Australia Day Festival Village at Hyde Park

Where: Hyde Park, Sydney CBD
Time: 12:00pm - midnight

Sydney's inner city Hyde Park will be hosting a day of festivities including food stalls, live music, circus performances and pop up bars.

3. Markets & Live Bands at The Rocks

Where: The Rocks, Sydney CBD
Time: 11:30am - 6:30pm

Various stages will be set up around The Rocks playing host to some great live bands. The bars around The Rocks will be buzzing and the views of Sydney Opera House will be prime for the Australia Day Fireworks display. The Rocks Markets will be kicks off at 11:30am with loads of food and clothing stalls to explore.

4. Australia Day at Sydney Harbour

Where: Circular Quay, Sydney CBD
Time: 11:00am - 9:30pm

Where are most people going to flock to when in Sydney? The Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge! The Harbour will be hosting a load of events, bars and parties... as well as a number of Boat Races – the entire harbour will be hosting tall ships, the Ferrython, parades and the Australia Day Regatta!

More info: here

Hit the Beach

What better way to celebrate Australia Day than by kicking back with a cold one by an Aussie Beach? Pack an esky, grab a rug and join the thousands that flock to Sydney's Beaches to celebrate Australia Day. Bondi Beach, Manly Beach and Coogee Beach will be packed so make sure you get in early (and pack your sunscreen)! Bondi Beach will also play host to Ben & Jerry's Open Air Cinema and the bars will be packed with locals and visitors throughout the day and night.

Hit the Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Pyrmont and Macquarie's Point are great places to watch the fireworks and chill in the gardens for the day. Take an esky, rug and nibbles and enjoy the sunshine!

places to visit in sydney harbour bridge
Find a spot to celebrate Australia Day


Australia Day in Brisbane

1. Australia Day Fireworks at Southbank

Where: River Quay, Southbank, Brisbane
Time: 11:00am - 9:00pm

Head on down to Brisbane's Southbank as a part of the Great Australian Bites festival for a day of market stalls, live music, pop up bars and a fantastic fireworks display at around 7:30pm. Don't forget to pack your bathers for a dip in the Lagoon.

2. Great Australian Bites

Southbank festival with pop up food stalls and live music all day from 11am - 8pm This is on Thurs, Fri and Sat.

Hit the Gardens

The locals love to hit the gardens on Australia Day in Brisbane. Pack an esky, take a potable radio and BYO rug. Some of our favourite parks to celebrate Aus Day is Brisbane City Botanic Gardens, New Farm Park and Roma St Parklands. 

free things to do in brisbane
Head to South Bank


Australia Day in Airlie Beach

1. Australia Day Bash

Where: Shed Bar & Down Under Bar & Grill, Airlie Beach
Time: midday onwards

If you are in Airlie Beach this Australia Day there is no where else to be! Test your Aussie Pie Eating skills to go into the draw to win $200 cash. Tune into the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown, enjoy a free BBQ at midday and then party on throughout the night with live music. Who's excited? We are!

More info: here

2. Pre Australia Day Pool Party Sessions

Where: Shed Bar & Down Under Bar & Grill, Airlie Beach
Time: 2:00PM onwards

Who doesn't love a pool party? Live DJs will be hitting the decks poolside from 2:00pm with a free BBQ on offer. The party kicks on next door at Down Under Bar & Grill with live music and all round festivities.

More info: here

Main image By Kaoz69 [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

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