There’s nothing more Aussie than rummaging the shed to dust off the cricket pales, throwing some lamb steaks on the barbie, and inviting the family and friends to share the sand with mobs of Aussie locals proudly flaunting their southern cross tattoos and stunning bikini bods across Australia’s most iconic beaches.
Yep, Australia Day is this weekend! Whether it’s a big or small event on your calendar, there are loads of exciting things happening across the nation to help us celebrate living in the best country on earth. If the backyard isn’t where you’ll be this Sunday, we hope one of these great spots near you will be.
With each state covered, here are our top picks for a great Sunday session on the 26th.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Sydney: See the Darling Harbour Concert from 6.00pm with a line-up of great performers followed by the Darling Harbour Australia Day Spectacular with lights, more music and fabulous fireworks. We have four great Sydney hotels you can stay at to ensure you don’t miss any of the action (and if you can stand the crowds, the kids will love the new Sydney Wet ‘N’ Wild out at Prospect, past Casula).
Blue Mountains: Take the family out to Carcoar, the third oldest settlement in the Blue Mountains for 60 street stalls, Cobb & Co. coach rides, music, wood chopping demonstrations, children’s rides, games and great food. Stay for dinner at Rosewood Cottage Licensed Restaurant opposite our Best Western Alpine Motor Inn in Katoomba or even wake up to breakfast at one of the many cafes the next morning.
Taree: The 2014 Saltwater Freshwater Festival is a must see if you’re on the Central Coast, and is a great way to celebrate our heritage with many activities for the whole family. The only Aboriginal cultural festival of its kind in the State, it features arts, music, dance, workshops and authentic Aboriginal cultural traditions. Make a full trip of it and stay at Best Western Taree Motor Inn and enjoy a meal at Rio’s Bar & Grill, serving up great brekkies and mouth-watering dinners.
Port Macquarie: Paint the Town Green in Port Macquarie this Sunday. Head to Lady Nelson Wharf between 9am and 4pm for surf and dragon boat races along the Hastings River. There’s the Port Macquarie’s Got Talent comp on between 5pm and 7pm – registration closes at 2pm earlier that afternoon, so make sure you sign up in time. After you’ve done your disappearing act at Town Green, why not reappear for a Moonlight Movie? Drift, a 2013 Australian film about the birth of the surf industry in the 1970s, is on from 8.15pm, a great one for you to round up the mob from the old surf club days. Sam Worthington (that guy from Avatar) is in it. We recommend getting there early to get good spot for your picnic rug and wireless (iPhone, of course!).
Melbourne: The annual Australia Day parade kicks off from 11am at Swanston Street, ending in the Queen Victoria Gardens at St Kilda Road. Around midday, the Australia Day Woodchop competition will be in full swing at the gardens. While dad and the boys jot down some new ideas for the back shed inspired by the chainsaws and underhand cutting techniques on show, ladies can escape and whip up a cold creamy smoothie using pedal power, with diverse food and beverage options available using ingredients from our heritage. There’s also a picnic, markets, stalls, free events and of course fireworks later on (don’t miss the James Morrison concert at Kings Domain from 2pm).
In the regions:
Mornington: Mornington Park from 3pm – 6.15pm promises free family activities and bands, mini golf and fireworks at 9pm.
Warrnambool: Head to the Botanic Gardens for a traditional Aussie BBQ and lots of free activities for the whole family.
Dandenong: Festival in the Park starts from 3pm. This is set is be big, and you’ll no doubt enjoy the events and atmosphere in store.
Baw Baw Shire: The two Civic Parks in Drouin and Warragul go head-to-head this Australia Day. Start off at the Drouin end, with its free all-Aussie breakfast bound to draw the crowds to Drouin Anglican Hall from 7.30am, followed by an afternoon of games and a live band in Civic Park, Drouin. Flip over to Warragul for a free BBQ, flag raising ceremony, vintage cars and local emergency services’ displays on show from 10.30am to 2pm in Civic Park, Warragul. Andrew at Best Western Drouin Motor Inn and Peter at Best Western Warragul are already welcoming visitors to town for the long weekend.
Get the whole Australia Day in Victoria guide here.
Brisbane: While we usually race to South Bank for a good spot at Kodak Beach and sunbake all day waiting for the fireworks, consider stopping by Boggo Road Gaol before 2.30pm on Australia Day for a tour down gaol-house lane. Small and big kids alike will love the chance to explore the gaol cells and watch the re-enactments of prisoners passed. Or, what better way to get into the patriotic spirit than to head out to Aussie World’s Australia Day event at the iconic Ettamogah Pub? Australia Day in Brisbane is a breeze when you stay at one of our five great Brissie hotels over the weekend.
Whitsundays: While the Gold and Sunshine Coasts are popular beach spots in the south east corner, Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands sure are magical destinations to escape to over the Australia Day long weekend. A huge event is planned at the Whitsunday Sailing Club on Saturday 25th, with a waterfront Aussie buffet, billy tea and damper all included. At Airlie Beach, sunset cruises across the Harbour will no doubt be popular, with the town’s original KC’s Bar & Grill sure to serve up record amounts of kangaroo and crocodile for the occasion. Stop in at Best Western Mango House Resort to set up base and prepare for an Australia Day unlike any other. There’s nothing more Australian than heading off to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef while you’re at it!
Townsville: Don’t be cooped up indoors in the air-conditioning – go and enjoy being nestled among the shady raintrees at Riverway, Thuringowa with an Aussie snag in hand. The trendy beachfront at The Strand comes alive on Australia Day, with the waterparks, chic restaurants and little ice cream shop sure to be choc-a-block with locals. And dads and motorheads won’t want to miss the classic Australian Car Display along the Village Green thanks to NQ Performance Ford Club and Townsville Early Holden Club. Make sure you swing by our swanky new Best Western Islington Apartments to meet our lovely hotel managers Shayne and Erin Hohn, who have a beautiful poolside oasis hidden in the heart of the apartment complex. Pina Colada, anyone?
Perth: Local whispers tell us the best coffee in Perth is at our luxurious Best Western Premier Terrace Hotel on St George’s Terrace in Perth. Maybe this could be your morning starting spot, before you head to Sir James Mitchell Park in South Perth for the Great Aussie Breakfast at 9.30am, and a free movie screening of Storm Boy at 11am. Back at the Terrace, live jazz and special priced #TceDrinks rev up again from 5pm, giving you a perfect spot to meet your friends before watching the City of Perth Australia Day Skyworks explode on the skyline for their 30th year running. Held on the Swan River foreshore, the fireworks start at 8pm, but during the day there will be loads of free activities and entertainment for the whole family at the Entertainment Zone in Langley Park.
Karratha: Australia Day celebrations will take place poolside at the Karratha Leisureplex with free entry from 4pm to 7pm. Activities will include a barbecue, Aussie Bakery, pool games and a fireworks display to conclude the evening.
Families in the region are invited to attend the celebration and to enjoy the community atmosphere poolside. Ashley our manager at Best Western Karratha Central Apartments says make sure you get the prawn linguine from Blanche Bar while you’re in town– don’t mind if we do!
Esperance: Adventureland Park is putting on a ripping family fun day and markets. Starting at 9am, enjoy lots of art, craft and food stalls, activities and competitions, live bands, and free ice cream for the kids. There’s a skate park competition to get the boys on to, children’s foot races, senior’s scooter race (awesome!) and a tug-of-war comp.
Canberra: For proud Australians: Our Canberra hotel man on the ground, Ryan, says Australia Day is really the perfect time to go behind enemy lines and visit the Australian War Memorial this Australia Day. Conflicts in the Middle East may be over, but the stories behind their exceptional efforts to prevail peace in such a hostile environment are never forgotten.
Charity fun for MS: A colourful way to spend Australia Day this year is to take part in the first ever MS Colour Dash to be held in Canberra. The MS Colour Dash is a not-for-profit event to raise funds for the 23,000 Aussies currently living with multiple sclerosis.
A fireworks spectacular: Regatta Point comes alive from 7pm on the lawns of the National Library or Rond Terrace. See the sky above Lake Burley Griffin explode with dazzling fireworks to a truly Aussie soundtrack at 9pm.
Adelaide (Glenelg): Beach bums get down to Glenelg Beach for the annual Havaiana’s Thong Throwing Challenge, to raise money for charity and give your thongs some love. The annual event attracts hundreds of participants vying for their chance to win (SOMETHING). Rob McBride has owned Best Western Ensenada Motor Inn at Glenelg Beach for 30 years and said there’s never been a better time to toss your favourite pair of worn out rubber and upgrade to a snazzy new colour for summer. There’s also great events happening on the wharf next to the lighthouse, and of course we suggest you pull up a pew and watch the Port Adelaide Rowing Club Sprint Regatta.
Whyalla: Start off with your morning eggs, steak, butter and vegemite on toast to ensure you’ve got enough to sustain you well into the night. From 3pm on Sunday, Whyalla Foreshore comes alive with free face painting, family sandcastle competitions, bands, a boat classic, some thong throwing and free rides leading up to the official Australia Day ceremony at 6.30pm. Major Jim Pollock is delivering the evening address. With lamingtons. If you’re on a sugar detox and lamingtons are off the menu, then head to Percy’s at Best Western Alexander Motel on Playford Avenue for some amazing steak and summer salads.
Hobart: The city is dishing up a fabulous breakfast on the Bellerive Boardwalk, so get there early before heading to watch the Australia Day Latrobe Triathlon part of the Henley on the Mersey festival at Bells Parade Latrobe from 10am. Port Arthur is also putting on a great family fun day, with a spooky ghost tour starting after dark, if you like hearing tales of convicts passed.
Burnie: Free entertainment, children’s activities and giveaways and a community breakfast kicks off this year’s ‘Breakfast by the Leven’ in Anzac Park. For a small price, a good breakfast spread is served before a formal citizenship ceremony begins at 10am.
Launceston: George Town Council kicks off Australia Day with the traditional Australia Day Breakfast from 8.30am at Regent Square. At 10.30, the fun begins at the Low Head Pilot Station, with a 5km fun Run and a family fun day. Enjoy live music, a great car display, activities for the kids, markets, food stalls and plenty more. Or if markets are up your alley, head 15 minutes south to Falls Park in Evandale between 8am – 2pm. See over 100 stalls including a wide range of wares and high quality crafts, plants, trees, shrubs and garden ornaments and bric-a-brac for every budget.
Darwin: This Australia Day, it’s all about the great Aussie ute! Grab the family and dog, dress up the car and head down to the 2014 Australia Day Ute Run. Gates open 10:30am at Hidden Valley Raceway with the convoy departing at 12:30pm to the Winnellie Park Greyhound Club. Entry is a $10 donation per vehicle. For a faster paced Australia Day, the annual fun run starts and finished at the Darwin Waterfront. With a free sausage sizzle, all day family entertainment and more, a good 2.5km or 5km run sounds like a great way to get out and see all of Darwin in one sweep.
Alice Springs: From 8am at the Civic Centre Courtyard in Todd Street, enjoy a free community sausage sizzle before the formal citizenship ceremony takes place. Oh, and if you’re born on the 26th – then there’s a big cake for you to cut too! For some literature and history, go to the Alice Springs Public Library wearing your favourite Australian colours (be it green & gold or red, white and blue) and hear an inspiring Aussie tale from Australia Day Ambassador and Olympic Champion, Luke Adam. Jac’s Coffee and Cake will serve up some very tasty Aussie treats during the day, while for $20, Lauren shows you how to become a master at scrapbooking using an Aussie bush theme.
Best Western’s Staff Picks:
Central Coast: Christine Anu singing live in Gosford, NSW. Need we say more? Stay at Best Western Gosford Motor Inn to make a night of it.
Wilberforce: Discover Australia’s rural settlement with original buildings from surrounding areas, including ‘Rose Cottage’; the oldest timber slab cottage in Australia standing on its original site at this vintage gem; the Australiana Pioneer Village. All in a day you can see a working blacksmith, get your face on a wanted poster, go for a ride in a horse and cart, crack a whip, visit a school room from the 1880s and find out heaps of cool stuff about John Wayne and the TV show the Wild Boys. Entry is $5 for adults and $3 for children.
Did we miss your town? We’re in over 100 locations across Australia – tell us where you are and we’ll let you know what’s happening around you!
About Lauren Bremner
Lauren is Best Western Australasia’s Marketing Communications Manager, based in Sydney. When she’s not using her love for NRL as an excuse to fly around Australia armed with her red and green binoculars, she’s visiting her hometown in Brisbane and planning her escapades to Australia and New Zealand’s most ideal points on the map. With a fascination for all things hotels, airplanes, opera ghosts and holidays, Lauren has a taste for the theatrical (she has a Lois Lane action figure on her desk, touched Henry Cavill at the Superman premier, and got retweeted by Russell Crowe last year). She loves good old fashioned hospitality, stemming from family bloodlines running up and down the aisles of Australia’s aviation industry. “Coffee, tea or me?” Sit down with a cuppa and join Lauren as she brings us the real stories behind our Best Western hotels, capturing why each one is so different from the next, and introduces us to the people behind the scenes working to bring your hotel dreams to life.