Australia celebrates at Parliament House
Performer Timomatic, on stage. Photo: Graham Tidy
If anyone believes in the power of Ita, it's Jimmy Barnes.
In the famous 1980 song Ita, Barnesy paid homage to the newly crowned Australian of the Year, describing her as the ''sweetest thing I've ever seen'', repeatedly pronouncing ''I believe, I believe, in what she says'', and asking ''how could I not believe, when Ita tells me too?''.
It was fitting then, that Jimmy Barnes took to the stage before the thousands at the Australia Celebrates Live concert on the lawns of Parliament House, just hours after Buttrose received the top award and made her pledge to tackle ageism, champion preventive health, and fight the stigma surrounding dementia.
Bizarrely, and much to the disappointment of some in the audience, the rock legend left the song off the set list.
The concert featured an exceptional line-up, with Timomatic, Guy Sebastian, The Presets, and Barnes bringing out what organisers were billing as a record crowd.
The lawns of Parliament House were transformed into a sea of Australiana, picnic rugs and inflatable yellow chairs.
Five-year-old Owen Rymill, his brother Harvey Rymill, and their mother Melissa Siljak were anything but ill-prepared for the night.
The family from Page staked out their spot at 3pm, a full four hours before the concert began. They filled a picnic basket with Australia-themed food, with everything from Australian-shaped Shapes, kangaroo-shaped chips, Caramello Koalas, and even green and gold rolls.
''[The kids] are too excited to eat anyway,'' Mrs Siljak said.
Australia Day project manager Fiona Dolan said said the quality and diversity of the musical acts, which spanned a range of genres, was key.
''I think that the concert has become a real mainstay on the Canberra calendar,'' she said.
''We've seen heaps of families this year, which is fantastic, but also a lot of groups of friends and younger Canberrans,'' she said.