On 26 January each year, Australians come together to celebrate their national day. This year, around Sydney and New South Wales, a busy calendar of Australia Day activities unfolds with local celebrations, official ceremonies and lots of fun for all. If you're thinking of taking the family on a short break over summer, check out what's on across the State.
Here are just some of the activities taking place in Sydney on Australia Day:
Much of the action takes place on and around Sydney Harbour. More than 1,000 participants are expected to take part in the Body Science Great Australian Swim Series Final. Swimming enthusiasts are encouraged to join in the 2.2km swim around Farm Cove, which starts at the Opera House. Less experienced swimmers can opt for the 750m swim, or the Junior Kids 300m event where entrants swim alongside some of open waters' best swimmers and sports stars. www.bodysciencegreataustralianswimseries.com.au
A highlight of the Australia Day program, the Harbour Concert series in association with Destination NSW, will feature music performances by several major artists including Jessica Mauboy, Samantha Jade and Justice Crew. The concert takes place on-board an impressive floating stage, with the best vantage point for visitors located at Blues Point Reserve.
Other harbour highlights include the ever-popular Ferrython races and a 21-gun salute followed by an aerial display by FA 18 Hornets from the Royal Australian Air Force. The Sydney's Tall Ships will lead a fleet of historic vessels from Bradley's Head to the Harbour Bridge, while the 178th Australia Day Regatta turns the harbour into an aquatic spectacle.
In the evening, Darling Harbour becomes the site of more Australia Day activities. The Harbour Concert kicks off from 6.00 with a line-up of great performers followed by the Darling Harbour Australia Day Spectacular with lights, more music and fabulous fireworks. http://www.darlingharbour.com/whats-on/australia-day.aspx
Further south, the two-day Australian Boardriders Battle national final will take place at Sydney's Cronulla beach. The biggest grassroots, boardriding event in Australian surfing history involves more than 100 of Australia's best boardriding clubs. The national final will see 16 clubs battle it out for the title over the Australia Day Long Weekend. www.australianboardridersbattle.com
From Balranald to Bathurst and Bryon to Young, here are some of the events taking place throughout New South Wales:
- In Gunnedah, activities include the annual raft and craft race, free entry to the town's pool, the rubber duck race, a pet parade, free family breakfast and a brand new event, the dog dash.
- In Young, Australia Day activities start with a barbecue breakfast. The Young Shire Band will keep everyone entertained while bush poetry and dancing provide a touch of country style.
- Australia Day at Carcoar, the third oldest settlement in the Blue Mountains, is busy with more than 60 street stalls, Cobb & Co. coach rides, music, wood chopping demonstrations, children's rides, games and great food.
- In Goulburn, Australia Day features an official ceremony and plenty of family fun with markets, rides and entertainment. Local musicians will perform while classic cars and vintage farm machinery roll into town.
- At Shellharbour on the South Coast, join in the annual Australia Day breakfast on the shores of Lake Illawarra from 7.00am. The day's events also feature a citizenship ceremony, free entertainment, face painting, and a sand modelling competition.
- Bombala, in the foothills of Kosciuszko National Park, celebrates Australia Day in conjunction with two other local events, the Monaro Wool and Wood Festival and the Lavender Festival. A busy day of celebrations includes wood chopping and chainsaw events, wood carving, sheep-shearing competitions and much more. You'll even have the chance to learn all about lavender with distilling and information sessions throughout the day.
- The 2014 Saltwater Freshwater Festival will be held in Taree on Australia Day. The festival moves to a different location on the Mid North Coast each Australia Day providing a range of positive, healthy, family-friendly activities for everyone. The only Aboriginal cultural festival of its kind in the State, it features arts, music, dance, workshops and authentic Aboriginal cultural traditions.