Held each year on 26 January, Australia Day is the country’s official national day. Check with your local council to find out what events will be held in your area or check out some highlights from regional NSW below.
Australia's favourite swim-run is back for the 22nd annual edition. Held at the picture-perfect Wollongong Boat harbour, the Aquathon offers a mix of events for all ages, with four swim and run distances which can be enjoyed by kids to adults, as well as the 5km Blue Mile Fun Run for those keen to stay on dry land.
Australia Day Aquathon
Up for a challenge? Start the day with the Newcastle Harbour Swim – the only day of the year you’re allowed to swim across the city’s harbour. There are celebrations along the foreshore all day once you are finished, or for those that would rather watch the athletes.
Head down to the beautiful Goulburn Historic Waterworks for a jam-packed Australia Day. Kicking off with a free barbecue breakfast at Rotary Park at 7.30am, linger longer for a Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony, live music, food and market stalls (including the return of the Aboriginal Arts & Culture Expo), workshops, trackless train rides, face painting and water activities (think pedal boats, kayaking and pontoon battles).
For a day of music, exhibitions and displays of what’s great in the region, head to Centennial Park in Cooma for the town’s Australia Day celebrations. Pop-up food stalls also feature, so bring a picnic blanket to set up in a shade for a leisurely afternoon.
The Gunnedah Shire puts on a variety of free community activities for all residents and visitors to share on Australia Day. Highlights include triathlon events, a free family breakfast sausage sizzle, a raft and craft race, PCYC duck race, people and pets parade, cake bake-off, chess game, dash for cash and athletic events.
Australia Day celebrations in Gunnedah - Credit: Gunnedah Visitor Information Centre
With free entry to Maitland Aquatic Centre, stalls, amusement rides, arts and crafts, beach activities and more, Australia Day in Maitland is a perfect day out for the whole family. Due to construction, the event location for 2022 is yet to be announced.
Australia Day in Maitland Park - Credit: Stephanie Owen, Maitland City Council
In the small town of Wombat, the locals have a particularly quirky way of celebrating the national day. From 12-1.30pm, come watch the vintage tractor sledge pulling competition and linger longer to peruse the market stalls, watch the street parade, eat a barbecue lunch and more. Make a day of it by joining the Australia Day Breakfast in nearby Young's Carrington Park, which also puts on kid's activities and entertainment by local musicians.
Country streetscape, Young
This hub of the Central West hosts a number of community events and activities, including a fair, fireworks display and the Bathurst Australia Day Awards. There’s also free entry to the pool at the Manning Aquatic Centre.
Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, Bathurst
Sydney is the place to be for Australia Day in 2023, with the Harbour City offering visitors great cultural experiences and world-class events.
Following the Dawn Reflection, Australia Day starts with the WugulOra Indigenous Morning Ceremony at Barangaroo, honouring the world’s oldest living culture. Afterwards, join an exciting series of free activities spanning Circular Quay, Sydney Harbour, The Rocks and Darling Harbour.
Don’t miss the Ferrython race, one of Australia’s most iconic events, when Sydney ferries race from Circular Quay to Shark Island and back to a glorious finish at the Sydney Harbour Bridge. From 1pm, Sydney's Tall Ships will lead a fleet of historic vessels from Bradley's Head to the Harbour Bridge, joined by the Australia Day Regatta, the world’s oldest continuously conducted annual sailing event, from 1.30pm.
Parramatta Park’s popular Australia Day celebrations are scheduled to return in 2023 with hot air balloons, First Nations workshops, a native animal display and much more.
Australia Day at Parramatta Park, Parramatta
Meanwhile, with the Sydney Opera House as backdrop, Australia Day Live is a not-to-be-missed music event with Aussie music legends performing live and a thrilling fireworks display. Australia Day also falls on the final day of the Sydney Festival — a vibrant cultural celebration that boasts theatrical performances, dance, cabaret, music and big ideas.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.