ACT News

Australia Day 2016: Where to celebrate in Canberra

What's on in Canberra this Australia Day

Monday, January 25

From 5pm, Jimmy Barnes headlines the free Australia Day concert on the lawns of Parliament House, with support acts Samantha Jade, Nathaniel and Cyrus Villanueva. Gates open from 5pm and the Australian of the Year awards ceremony starts at 7.30pm. Bring a picnic blanket, food and an umbrella. See australiaday.org.au.

Australia Day fireworks on Lake Burley Griffin last year.
Australia Day fireworks on Lake Burley Griffin last year. Photo: Jay Cronan

7.05pm The Royal Australian Air Force Roulettes are set to fly in a 10-minute formation as low as 200 feet above the ground and at speeds up to 550km/h over Parliament House lawns. Flight Lieutenant Thomas Sawade said they'll be keeping a close eye on the weather to determine whether the flyover will go ahead. 

Tuesday, January 26

From 7.30am Raise your voice alongside the Sing Australia choir in Commonwealth Park as they perform iconic Australian songs on Australia Day morning.

Tiana Jitts, Blair Mackenzie and Kailey Jitts at the Australia Day concert at Parliament House last year.
Tiana Jitts, Blair Mackenzie and Kailey Jitts at the Australia Day concert at Parliament House last year. Photo: Jay Cronan

7.30am to 10.30am While you're there in Commonwealth Park, enjoy a free breakfast thanks to ActewAGL and Canberra Milk. Even though breakfast is free, gold-coin donations are encouraged, with all money raised going to Pegasus Riding for the Disabled.

9.30am Learn about Indigenous culture and storytelling with local Aboriginal dance, music and art group, Wiradjuri Echoes in Commonwealth Park. 

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10am 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.

10am until 2pm Enjoy talks, demonstrations, music, dance and performances from Indigenous artists at the Australia Day Festival at the National Museum of Australia. See events.act.gov.au.

10am until 3pm Miniature steam rides, guided tours and the opportunity to ride a 1920s rail motor are just some of the activities Canberra's railway museum will be hosting on Australia Day. Enjoy Anzac biscuits and lamingtons between 10am and noon. More information here

From 12pm The National Film and Sound Archives will screen three classic Australian films, including Crocodile Dundee (12pm), The Castle (2pm) and They're A Weird Mob (4pm). Tickets $5. See events.act.gov.au.

From 12pm CBR Hottest 100 Beach Party. Westside Acton Park will have a giant water slide, Triple J's Hottest 100 countdown and a sunset screening of classic Australian film, The Castle. $35+bf from moshtix.com.au. 18+.

From 12pm There'll be live music, a jumping castle and face painting on the lawns of the Canberra Southern Cross Yacht Club from 12pm until 4pm. You can also book onto their cocktail cruise for a great view of the fireworks. Runs from 7pm until 10pm - bookings essential. 

From 12.30pm to 1.20pm Ring in Australia Day with a free lakeside concert at the National Carillon, playing old and new Australian classics. 

From 3pm La De Da in Belconnen will be celebrating Australia Day with live music, a blow-up pool and free chicken wings for all. Free entry. 18+.

From 4pm Australia Day on the balcony at The Highball Express, with a sausage sizzle, a one-day-only lamington cocktail or an all-Australian rum flight. Free entry. 18+.

6pm until 9.30pm Wind up your Australia Day celebrations by watching Canberra's free Australia Day fireworks spectacular with family and friends on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. The best vantage points will be Regatta Point, the lawns of the National Library or Rond Terrace but get there early. See events.act.gov.au.

6.30pm until 9.30pm At Commonwealth Park, enjoy amusement rides and food stands pop-up for family-friendly entertainment.

How to get around

By bus

ACTION buses will run a number of special services to and from Australia Day events.

Buses will operate on a Sunday timetable on Tuesday, January 26. 

Monday, January 25

Extra ACTION services depart from the following stations travelling to Old Parliament House on Monday:

  • Gungahlin Marketplace, regularly between 5 pm and 7pm, servicing all stops on Flemington Road and the City Bus Station (Platform 9).
  • Cohen Street, Westfield and Community stations, Belconnen, regularly between 5pm and 7pm, servicing southbound stops on College Street and Barry Drive via City Bus Station.
  • City Bus Station (Platform 9) regularly between 5pm and 7.20pm.
  • Woden Bus (Platform 10) regularly between 5pm and 7.20pm.

Regular fares apply.

Free return chartered ACTION buses will run from Old Parliament House (bus stop on King George Terrace) to Gungahlin Marketplace, City, Belconnen and Woden bus stations, departing regularly until midnight.

Tuesday, January 26

Chartered ACTION buses will operate a continuous loop between the City Bus Station and the National Museum for the Australia Day Festival, between 10am and 2pm on Tuesday.  All services will depart from Platform 10 on Northbourne Avenue.

After the fireworks on Tuesday night, free chartered ACTION buses will run from the Commonwealth Avenue bus stop at Regatta Point to Gungahlin Marketplace, City, Belconnen, and Woden bus stations from 9.30pm.

Availability of connecting routes to the suburbs may not be available. 

By car

If you're planning on driving to Australia Day events, police warn double demerits are in place until midnight on January 26. 

Distracted and reckless drivers will also be on ACT Policing's radar, Acting Officer-in-Charge of Traffic Operations, Station Sergeant Stephen Booth said.

He said: "Our message is simple. If you are staying in Canberra, enjoy yourself, but remember to keep our roads safe for all by not drinking and driving and not allowing yourself to be distracted whilst on the roads."

What to pack

With the Bureau of Meteorology predicting a drizzly few days, a brolly and a poncho could be in order.

There's a high chance of showers during Monday afternoon and evening, with a thunderstorm likely too. Light winds are predicted.

The chance of rain will ease slightly on Tuesday but there will still a good chance of a sprinkling in the morning and afternoon. There's still a chance of a thunderstorm and light winds will become easterly 15 to 20 km/h in the early afternoon. 

If you are heading to the Australia Day Awards on Monday night, or the National Carillon Concert on Tuesday, pack a rug and a picnic too. 

Did we miss your event? Send it through to katie.burgess@fairfaxmedia.com.au