What’s On – Your Guide To Australia Day Events Across Queensland: Meat pies, mullets and Miranda Kerr… come January 26, Australians will band together to celebrate all that’s good and great about living Down Under.
In Queensland, celebrations aren’t complete without a snag on the BBQ, a trip to the beach and an Aussie Flag or two – even if you’re under water on the Great Barrier Reef.
So, ditch your latte-drinking lifestyle for 24-hours of fun in the sun with our guide to all that’s occa and awesome in and around the Sunshine State this Australia Day.
Brisbane and surrounds:
The buzz around town is all about Busby Barou bringing their funky brand of blues to the Somerset Australia Day Festival, which is held on January 23 at Wivenhoe Dam’s Cormorant Bay Recreational Reserve. This rockin’ Rockhampton duo will share the limelight with Noosa Chef, Matt Golinksi at the family friendly festival.
When it comes to bucket lists, Brisbane’s Story Bridge Hotel is at the top of the quirky Australia Day event list as they prepare to unleash an intrusion of cockroaches onto a shiny yellow tarp for the annual cockroach races. The 14-race schedule sets the pace for a fun day out complete with bands, food stalls and beer. Or, for races of the motorised kind head to The Normanby Hotel for their Esky Racing competitions.
From cockroaches to kookaburras, visitors to the River City can take to the water and cruise the Brisbane River for lunch or dinner. The Kookaburra Queen team will be serving up sensational city views and live music with their three-course Australia Day menus. It’s also a fab vantage point to catch the evening fireworks.
The folks out Ipswich way are set to make a splash during their family-friendly pool parties, which will be held at their four Swim Centres – Bundamba, Leichardt, Goodna and Rosewood and also at Orion Lagoon.
Foodies can sink their teeth into Great Australian Bites at River Quay, South Bank Parklands as local culinary legends showcase their wares – using Queensland produce – in a parade of pop-up food stalls near the Brisbane River. Entertainment will be flowing like the food, from January 23 right through until the 29th.
Bundy Rum is as Australian as they come, so the publicans in Bundaberg will be serving it with gusto this Australia Day. Not to be outdone, Bundaberg’s other favourite icon, aviator Bert Hinkler, will be in the spotlight with reduced price entry into the Hinkler Hall of Aviation. There’ll also be plenty of Australia Day cheer during theBundaberg Botanical Gardens Australia Day Fun Day bash with the Kiddywinks Puppeteers and free train rides around the garden from 9am.
Capricorn and Gladstone:
Gladstone Council is pulling out all stops for their Australia Day celebrations at the Marina Parklands near the harbour. There will be face painting galore, roving entertainers, bush bands, cricket demonstrations and the obligatory sausage sizzle. The Gladstone Municipal Band will also make a special appearance.
‘To market, to market’ seems to be the order of the day for the folks in Rockhampton for their Heritage Village Australia Day Markets. More than 150 stallholders will be selling wares and there’ll be Aussie entertainment in the amphitheatre. Further up the coastline, the folks in Yeppoon will be staging their Great Australia Day Beach Party – a ten-hour marathon entertainment line-up, market stalls, street theatre and rides all combine to make this the third largest Australia Day event in the state.
The Cooloola and Fraser Coasts:
On the water, the Tin Can Bay Yacht Club will host the sixth annual Australia Day Challenge and will be by the Cooloola Dragon Boat Club and Tin Can Bay Salability – all will be resplendent in green and gold. In town, the folks at Gympie’s Gold Mining and Historical Museum love a good dress up and are set to host an annual Australia Day breakfast from 8am along with canon firing, vintage machinery demonstrations and heritage bus rides.
Fraser Island is only five nautical miles off the Australian mainland, but once you set foot on the world’s largest sand island, island time kicks in. Fraser has long been a favourite with campers and four-wheel-drivers who flock over on the Australia long weekend to throw in a line and throw back a XXXX at Orchid Beach or the Eurong Beach Bar. If the tides are right, head to Lake Wabby and soak up the World Heritage-listed surrounds before the tour buses arrive.
The team at Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island’s western side have a stack of activities including thong throwing, limbo and beach cricket – with a special appearance from the lycra-clad Captain Australia.
Folks in Hervey Bay (and on the water) will be able to get into the spirit of the day with the Kingfisher Bay Resort Regatta, which will see boats racing on the Great Sandy Strait from Urangan to Fraser from 10am. The Hervey Bay Museum will run museum tours, tug o’war games, chainsaw and log sawing competitions and free tractor rides. There’ll also be a menagerie of alpacas, snakes and dingoes in an Australia Day display.
The Gold Coast:
Home grown talent is the order of the day with local bands – like Leopold’s Treat and OKA – playing across four stages at the Gold Coast’s newest family venue,NightQuarter. The entertainment line-up also includes an Australiana-style stage in the Backyard Bar and Grill and a busking station. Local fashion designers will showcase their designs on centre stage and 120 vendors will be serving up amazing foods, fashion and market wares under their colourful canopies.
According to folks in the know, Australia Day celebrations in the Mackay areaare “gonna be a corker”. The C&K Slade Point Community Kindergarten are opening their doors and their kitchen with a community barbecue; the Banksia Scout Group will host a family fun day; the Mackay Surf Life Saving Club will host under eighteen beach games and the Habana and Districts Progress Association will throw a ‘beach’ party.
It just ain’t cricket unless you’re celebrating Australia Day with… umm… a game of cricket. The Goldfield Ashes in Charters Towers is the largest amateur cricket carnival in the Southern Hemisphere and has been running since 1984. Around 3000 folks will don their whites and fan colours to descend on Charters Towers for the three-day event, which also includes a match between the QLD Masters Bulls X1 vs Charters Towers Invitational X1.
Whilst the rivers are running in McKinlay after the recent rainfall out back, they’re not the only thing that will be this Australia Day. McKinlay is a small town in the remote north-west of Queensland, south-east of Mount Isa and their local police officer, Des Hansson, is organising one hellavua cricket match for the town’s 115 or so locals.
The Sunshine Coast:
Those healthy types amongst us will be squeezing into their active wear at sunset for the annual AusTRAILia Day Marathon, which kicks off at the foot of the Glasshouse Mountains. All events will start and finish at the food of the Mt Beerwah summit trail.
With a name like Aussie World, the Sunshine Coast theme park has no choice but to throw an almighty Aussie-themed party on January 26. This year there’ll be dunny racing, mullet tossing, tug-of-war matches, Australian-themed food and classic Aussie rock on offer.
The beer is cold, the food is hot and the iconic Aussie music will be pumping at theMaleny Hotel this Australia Day. The joint will also be jumping thanks to the inclusion of a jumping castle, face painting, juggling and balloon twisting.
Just down the road, the folks at Montville have added a historical bent to their Australia Day theming. The Blackall Range horseless carriages, Aussie folk singers, the Simpson Brothers and the Mapleton Choir are all geared up to make special guest appearances during the day-long celebration.
The Southern Great Barrier Reef:
The turtles at Mon Repos don’t know its Australia Day, but a trip to hang with them will create memories that will last a life time. Turtle season runs from November until late March and the Mon Repos Turtle Centre is open from 8am in the lead up to Australia Day. Mon Repos Turtle Encounters also operate seven-days-a-week and bookings are essential.
For those land-lubbers who are keen to get out to the reef, why not consider a day trip to the outer Great Barrier Reef with Lady Musgrave Cruises? This coral cay island is set on 3000 acres of living reef with a deep-water coral lagoon – that’s one giant swimming pool! Plus, you’ll be supporting an Aussie-owned family business.
Southern Queensland Country:
You’re guaranteed a whip-cracking good time at the Jondaryan Woolshed this Australia Day. There’ll be flag raising ceremonies, family cricket matches, damper making and horse and cart rides. Behind the scenes, an army of cooks will whip up lamingtons, scones with jam and cream, and pavlovas.
In and around Warwick, the historic Glengallan Homestead will open; the local Lion’s Club will cook up a community breakfast in Leslie Park and there’ll be entertainment until midday. Cricket fans will also be able to catch the action of the annual Australia Day Cricket Carnival from January 23 to 24.
You can have your cow and milk it to at the Australia Day celebrations at Highfields Pioneer Village. There will be plenty of good Aussie tucker, meat pies, vegemite sandwiches and billy tea along with a baby animal nursery, family games, draught horse action and Aboriginal art displays. For those hankering to learn the fine arts of blacksmithing or bee-keeping, you won’t want to miss this event.
The Great Barrier Reef:
Naturalist David Attenborough said recently that “a trip to the Great Barrier Reef is better than travelling to the moon.” And with 2300 kilometres and an area the size of around 70 million football fields to explore, you’ll have an authentic Aussie experience – and possibly a close encounter with a Giant Clam, Clownfish, Maori Wrasse or Manta Ray – on the reef this Australia Day.
Not all experiences have to be below the surface, so consider booking a seaplane, fixed wing or helicopter flight or see the wonders of the reef from a glass-bottomed boat.
Australia Day just isn’t Australia Day without an obligatory game of beach cricket. And when the pitch is none other than Whitehaven Beach in The Whitsundays, well you’ve got the makings of a great day out. Locals can join the folks at Cruise Whitsundays for their special OZ Day Cruise, BBQ and beach cricket sesh at Whitehaven and visitors can hire your own Bareboat and sail the 74 islands of The Whitsundays. #Bliss.
Music lovers and foodies will get their fix at the Airlie Beach Foreshore for the Great Australian Bites celebrations – one of three such events held in Queensland. It’s the perfect venue to take advantage of the summer atmosphere and consume Queensland produce whilst listening to home-grown talent.
The folks in North Queensland know how to put the FUN into exercising thanks to their early morning Townsville City Council Australia Day Fun Run event. There’ll be cash prizes for the wackiest Australiana-themed costumes and a FREE Aussie breakfast in the Brigadier North Park. Events throughout the day include a Fun Run and breakfast, Citizenship Ceremony, Australia Day Award Ceremony and the State Flag Raising Ceremony. Activities throughout the town include an Australian car display, free amusements for the kids and live entertainment.
Tropical North Queensland:
In Cairns, there will be celebrations aplenty at Babinda with a free sausage sizzle and live music; a free concert along the Esplanade with an all-female line-up; and there’ll be family friendly activities at the Trinity Beach foreshore. Not to be outdone, the folks atMossman will run three-legged races, potato races, sack races, egg and spoon races, comedy ball games, a coo-ee competition and the Inaugural Australia Day Land Race at George David Park.
Tropical beaches, palm trees and great weather set the scene for a pretty good start to Australia Day, but the folks in Port Douglas are taking it one step further. Grown-ups can celebrate as only they can at the town’s Court House Hotel or Paddy’s Bar. Port Douglas is also one of three locations in Queensland to stage a Great Australia Bites Concert showcasing local musicians and regional cuisines. It’s all happening at Rex Smeal Park from 11am on Australia Day followed by the Australia Day awards and a citizenship ceremony at the Community Hall.
Further north, The Cow Bay Hotel (on Cape Tribulation Road) will be hosting The Second Annual Ride-On Lawn Mower Grand Prix from 2pm and will round their day off with markets, cane toad races, camp oven cooking and live music until late.
And to round out our Sunshine State list, the PCYC in Cooktown will be going off as the local Lion’s Club cook an Aussie Day lunch and they host performances byCooktown’s Got Talent winners.