ACT News


Australia Day 2016: Canberra glams up for the Australian of the Year awards

The Australian of the Year Awards ceremony on the eve of Australia Day is celebrated by nominees, friends and family at an exclusive party on the lawns of Parliament House.

Events manager Julia Franklin has been tasked with organising the annual VIP gathering of Australia's leading citizens and role models for 12 years.

The event and cocktail party for 750-odd guests is not the biggest she has worked on, but she says its outdoor location makes it the most challenging.

"Because as you know, it's grass and a bit of road and a dusty old bus shelter, and we have to make it look absolutely gorgeous just for the day."

What started as a modest shindig in 2004 has become bigger and more glamorous in later years.

Over several days Ms Franklin and her company White Space Events bring in 800 chairs, trestle tables, ovens, air conditioning, cool rooms, fencing, wash rooms (not port-a-loos), flowers, fairy lights and more than 100 staff.


"I remember last year we had 95 staff, whose only role was to serve food and drinks," she said.

Ms Franklin, who is now Sydney-based, said much of the staff, food and flowers came from the Canberra region. Wine to be served at this year's event, for example, included leftover Canberra Centenary branded bubbly.

A new challenge this year was the live broadcast of the event. "In the past it's been a ceremony followed by a concert, this year is a ceremony and concert all in one big show," she said.

An ever-repeating challenge is the weather, with much of the space Ms Franklin has to work with wide open lawns. The Bureau of Meteorology's predictions for Monday and Tuesday are unlikely to allay concerns; It has forecast rain and the chance of a thunderstorm on Monday evening.

The gates at the Australia Day eve awards ceremony and concert open to the public at 5pm. The ceremony starts at 7.30pm.

What's on this Australia Day

There's plenty on for members of the public, with the festivities kicking off on Monday night.

  • The Australia Day Eve concert and Australian of the Year Awards are on Monday in front of Parliament House. It is a free concert. Gates open at 5pm. More details at
  • The Australian of the Year Awards will be broadcast on Monday at 7.30pm on ABCTV, and live at 7.30pm AEDT on News24 and ABC iview
  • At 10am Tuesday head over to Rond Terrace to watch the National Flag Raising, before welcoming Canberra's newest citizens at the Australian Citizenship Ceremony at 10:30am
  • There's a Salute to the Nation and a singing of the national anthem, 12pm at Commonwealth Park
  • The lawns of the National Library of Australia and Regatta Point are the best places to catch the Australia Day fireworks in Canberra, from 6.30pm
  • At Commonwealth Park, amusement rides and food stands pop-up for family friendly entertainment from 6.30pm until 9.30pm