ACT News

Canberrans celebrate Australia Day with humour, sausages, and tweets

Canberrans celebrated Australia Day in different ways with many headed to the Commonwealth Park for relaxation, galleries for countdown themed exhibitions, or to the lake for a citizenship ceremony.

Morning joggers were startled by cannon fire at Regatta Point as the Australian flag was raised and jet fighters from RAAF 76 squadron passed over the lake before flying past Mount Ainslie and continuing to Queanbeyan.

Many were puzzled by the morning news that Prime Minister Tony Abbott had appointed Prince Philip as a knight of the Order of Australia, the country's highest order.

Gary Vernon, who was by the lake for the citizenship ceremony, said it was a strange decision and he was struggling to make sense of it.

"I can understand when it was Quentin Bryce or Angus Houston, but what relevance does Prince Philip have here in Australia?" he asked.

Others around Lake Burley Griffin, who declined to be named, were more opinionated and described the decision as "bizarre", "appalling" and "total crap".

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In true Australia Day tradition, Canberrans enjoyed a free sausage sizzle breakfast in Commonwealth Park for the 15th consecutive year before moving to the lake for a citizenship ceremony.

"It's a great way to celebrate the wonderful country and city we live in," said ActewAGL spokesman Paul Walshe, who claimed to have cooked more than 10,000 sausages

"Importantly, money will be raised for many worthwhile local organisations and charities such as the Heart Foundation."

In Commonwealth Park, young families on picnic blankets guarded prime positions with some parents choosing to read a book, play cricket with their kids, or tune into the Triple J hottest 100 count down.  

While the carnival rides proved popular with children, the pop-up tram designed to provide "an opportunity for people to learn more about the light rail urban design guidelines was less popular.

Over at the National Museum of Australia, staff were busy monitoring the Twitter feeds of many Canberrans to document how people chose to celebrate the day.

A museum spokeswoman said the curation would continue on Monday night to allow for tweets from overseas, although themes of multiculturalism and citizenship were prominent along with pictures of family barbecues and indigenous perspectives on the day.

Down the road at the National Portrait Gallery Canberrans were celebrating a hottest 100 of a different kind - the hottest 100 portraits.

Families and a younger crowd enjoyed refreshments, board games and Triple J's Hottest 100 countdown blaring from the speakers as part of the gallery's Hottest 100 Party, an indoor picnic complete with colourful umbrellas, banana lounges and rugs.

A portrait of late Australian actor Heath Ledger taken by Bruce Weber took out the top spot, behind images of former prime minister Julia Gillard, actress Deborah Mailman, musician Nick Cave and entertainer Dame Edna Everage.

Spokeswoman Katrina Osborne said there had been a steady stream of people playing games and relaxing in the space all afternoon, with 180 people attending the nearby Poncho Circus earlier in the day.

With Emma Kelly

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