As the Australia Day long weekend approaches, you might be wondering what to do with yourself on Friday. And the good news is that wherever you are, there’s plenty of fun on offer, from parades, to cockroach races, live music to fireworks.
To help you plan your Australia Day bash, we’ve collected a list of free (or almost free) events in each capital city.
If you’re in the city centre, head down to Darling Harbour to check out the Australia Day festivities. There’s plenty of fun to join in on, from live music and DJs to ‘True Blue Bush Games’ including a thong-throwing challenge, watermelon-eating competition and wife-carrying race.
For those out West, Parramatta is holding its own all-day celebration, with a hot-air balloon display, the CARivale vintage car display, and a tonne of other fun family-friendly activities like kids workshops and amusement rides.
Melbournites make sure you head over to the Australia Day celebration at the Docklands Harbour Esplanade, for a day of live entertainment and tasty food (visiting the food trucks will cost you though). Top off the day with a grand finale fireworks display.
For those further afield in the Greater Dandenong, there’s another festival on in Dandenong Park, where you can enjoy free family fun, live entertainment, roving performers, market stalls and a fireworks display to finish off the day.
In Perth, Skyworks at Langley Park is the place to be this Australia Day. From a customer built maze jam packed with all things Aussie, freestyle BMX show and a water playground, right through to a craft zone for the toddlers, there’s fun for all ages.
Otherwise, Australia Day also marks the opening weekend of Perth’s Fringe World 2018. While there are free events like the Big Splash, an art trail dotted around the city, and the Birak Concert on for Australia Day, most of the fun kicks off the next day, so lock this one in for the whole long weekend.
The big event in Brisbane isn’t fireworks, a waterpark or food trucks - it’s cockroaches. This year is the 37th annual Cockroach races at The Story Bridge Hotel in Brisbane, where punters can place a bet on their favourite cocky. This is a gold coin event, so not exactly free, but definitely worth the tiny price tag!
If creepy-crawlies aren’t your thing, head over to Southbank for a day of live music and fireworks on the banks of the Brisbane river. Pack a picnic, find a good spot, and you’re set for a chilled out Australia Day.
For Adelaide locals, Elder Park for Australia Day in the City is the top spot. Check out one of the largest Australia Day parades in the country, including vintage cars, horses, marching bands, a fly past by an F-18 Hornet and a giant echidna to boot, followed by a huge free concert.
If you’re feeling patriotic on Australia Day, you can head on over to the National Flag Raising and Citizenship Ceremony.
But for those Canberrans who prefer a party, Australia Day in the Capital is kicking off with a concert headlined by Justice Crew, plus tonnes of fun for the kids, like cricket, a giant slide, jumping castles and face painting.
In Hobart, Australia Day is all about hitting the water! Kingston Beach is hosting A Day on the Beach, with live music, sport activities, a sandcastle competition, classic Aussie BBQs, ocean swims and the not-to-be-missed annual Inflatable Thong Race.
Boat-lovers can head over to the Sandy Bay Regatta. Keep in mind that at this community event, some of the activities and fun will cost you a few dollars, but watching the events and displays is free.
If you’re spending Australia Day in the top end, the must-see, true blue event this weekend is the Australia Day Ute Run. Now in it’s 17th year, this colourful parade of Aussie utes ends at the Noonamah Tavern, where there’s music, food, drinks and games galore.
You can also kick off your Australia Day with a fun run along the Darwin Waterfront, courtesy of Australia Day NT (bring a gold coin donation). And after you finish, the celebrations carry on with free live music, a sausage sizzle, beach volleyball, and a best dressed competition.