January 26 is just around the corner, so you know what that means right? Australia Day is almost here! Whether your ideal Australia Day means hanging ten in the surf or sizzling shrimps on the barbie, check out this list of budget-friendly events across Australia for a ripper day.
Cheer on at Sydney’s Ferrython
Ferries have long been a part of Sydney Harbour, and each year the Ferrython pays homage to the First Fleet with a friendly race. So stash some lamingtons in the picnic basket, head to a vantage point and barrack for your favourite ferry. Not only is this Straya’ event free, but you get to enjoy it from the Botanical Gardens, alongside the sparkling harbour or by the iconic bridge.
Now if ferries aren’t your thing, no worries. You could wander over to The Rocks for free live music, the Triple J hottest 100 countdown, and trendy market stalls. Or if the kiddy winks are in tow, take them to Bella Vista Farm instead, another free event but with a colonial homestead twist.
Enjoy Dockland’s fireworks in Melbourne
Bring the kids to Docklands NewQuay Piazza & Promenade for a fun-filled Australia Day. The family will love the roving entertainment, food truck festival and the games and activities organised by the City of Melbourne. Plus an Artisan Market will hug the promenade, so you can browse before the fireworks begin.
For folks who live a little further out of town, the City of Casey is sponsoring a free kid-friendly event at Hampton Park, which includes brekkie, multicultural entertainment, face painting, an animal farm and jumping castles.
Gaze at fireworks on Brisbane’s banks
Brisbane’s South Bank parklands on the water will feature a fireworks display to celebrate the motherland. While you can’t BYO alcohol, Mozo encourages you to roll up with a picnic blanket and your own bush tucker.
For the fans left disappointed by the cancelled cane toad races, don’t despair. You can still go to the Cockroach Races at the Story Bridge hotel. You are encouraged to BYO roach, or buy one on the day for $10. This 35 year-old event requires a gold coin donation.
Marvel at “skyworks” in Perth
Get your cameras ready because Langley Park is having a spectacular Australia Day laser and fireworks show called Skyworks. A pyrotechnics choreographer and designer promised the show will be the most memorable yet Fair dinkum!
If you’re peckish in the morning you could also snag a free Big Aussie Day BBQ Brekkie at Coogee located in the City of Cockburn, which will also be home to plenty of other activities and live music for the fam all day after breakfast.
Party in Adelaide city
There’s something for everyone at Australia Day in the City in Adelaide! There will be a giant echidna, a parade and pop star Samantha Jade will belt out tunes for you to dance along to. The mayor will give a speech, indigenous Australians will perform a Welcome to Country, all before fireworks by night.
For something a little more low-key, the Oxford Terrace Street Party is another free gig with special guest Mem Fox, the famous children’s book author. This event will have a pop up library, face painting and free sausage sizzle. Now that’s bonza!
Go for gold at Darwin’s fun run
Fun runs never go astray in the land down under, like this Australia Day event at the Darwin Waterfront. For a gold coin donation you can choose between a 2.5km or 5km run, bright and early in the morning. Don green and gold for this family-friendly race and enjoy a free sausage sizzle when you finish. Plus there will be a prize for best dressed.
While us Aussies are known for being good sports and gifted at running, another notable trait is our appreciation for the humble meat pie – we like to eat them at the footy or wolf one down on our lunch breaks. In the spirit of this culture, Darwin Turf Club is bringing a pie eating competition to the Australia Day horse races. Five lucky participants will get to eat through 192 donated pies in various flavours. Tickets for the Darwin Turf Club races are $10 and $15, with kids under 12 free.
Play sport on a Hobart beach
Pull on your budgie smugglers for A Day on the Beach in Hobart hosted by radio station 101.7FM. At least a dozen sporting and community groups are organising games and events at Kingston Beach. There’ll be two giant barbeques, live music, and even a sandcastle competition!
If you don’t like sand in your shoes, you could also take the little nippers to the Twilight on the Duck Festival at Circular Head. The local community has organised plenty of duck themed activities such as duck races and ‘duck pedal cycling’.
Witness history at Canberra’s Parliament
Plenty of inspiring blokes and sheilas are out there doing us proud by making the world a better place. What better way to pat them on the back than by going to the Australian of the Year Awards in Canberra?
You can join fellow Canberrans and perch along the grassy lawns of Parliament House to watch history unfold as the winner is announced. There’ll be thousands of people there, so don’t be a larrikin and arrive early for a spot!
Dinky-di musicians will entertain you for hours on stage beneath the stars during the show. You might even feel a pang of patriotism from the sheer scale of this televised and quintessentially Australian celebration of aussie goodwill.
Do you have any tips on free events in your area on Australia Day? Fill us in with a comment below!