Smack bang in the middle of summer, Australia Day, January 26, is invariably celebrated outdoors in parks, backyards or on the beach. Cities and country towns all mark the occasion in their own way, with barbecues, citizenship ceremonies, and fireworks generally on the agenda. Here are some Australia Day getaways you might like to consider.
Honour Australia’s History at Hotel Kurrajong
Canberra is the repository of the Australian story, evident in institutions like the National Museum, the National Gallery, and the Australian War Memorial. All contribute to the broader Australian story and make the National Capital a special place to visit. Most of the major institutions have special exhibitions throughout summer, and from most it’s an easy walk to find a vantage point for the evening Australia Day concert and fireworks.
Book into the Hotel Kurrajong for a uniquely Canberra experience. This nostalgia-laden hotel opened in 1926 and was home to Members of Parliament including Prime Minister Ben Chifley until his death in 1951. It’s another chapter in the Australian story.
For a relaxing way to spend Australia Day, rent a GoBoat and spend a couple of hours cruising around Lake Burley Griffin (no licence needed). The boats seat eight around a centre table so you can take your own picnic. You’ll come away with a new appreciation for this beautifully designed city.
Harbourside Living at Adina Darling Harbour
There’s nothing quite like spending Australia Day on Sydney Harbour, and the Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour is perfectly located for guests to take advantage of the jam-packed schedule of entertainment held around the harbour throughout the day, culminating in evening fireworks.
For a truly special experience, climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge and get a bird’s eye view of one of the world’s most beautiful harbours. It’s a view that the First Fleeters sailing into the harbour on January 26, 1788, could never have imagined. BridgeClimb has taken more than four million people to the top of the bridge since it began offering climbs in 1998. This is one Australia Day experience you’ll remember forever.
Living Up Large in Brisbane at The Calile
Brisbane’s relaxed, alfresco lifestyle takes place on both sides of the Brisbane River, with easy transport connections via the CityCat ferries and CityHopper service. Particularly vibrant is Southbank with its restaurants and bars, swimming lagoon (complete with sandy beach), giant ferris wheel, and cultural precinct. Head to Southbank for the Australia Day festivities, including pop-up food stalls and entertainment by local musicians, then grab a spot from which to watch the evening fireworks.
Across the river, Eagle Terrace bustles with restaurants and bars, while further along, Howard Smith Wharves is Brisbane’s newest happening place, all against the backdrop of an illuminated Story Bridge. Some of the trendiest venues are in cosmopolitan New Farm and Fortitude Valley, where you can check into The Calile for designer style and rest and pampering in an urban-style resort oasis.
Known to locals simply as The Valley, this is one of Brisbane’s liveliest areas in which to hang out, with live music venues, night clubs, old-fashioned pubs and a huge array of restaurants, including The Calile’s much-acclaimed Hellenika.
The Cultural Capital at Travelodge Docklands
Spend Australia Day taking in an exhibition or two in Melbourne and you’ll appreciate why the city is often called Australia’s Cultural Capital.
Velvet, Iron, Ashes, in the State Library’s new Victoria Gallery, is a fresh way of looking at Australian history, revealing how stories intersect.
Find out how bushranger Ned Kelly’s armour is connected to cricket’s celebrated Ashes Urn, how fairy floss is connected to the Latrobe Valley electricity industry, and why the granddaughter of an Australian prime minister once wore a glittering velvet cloak symbolising the Murray-Darling irrigation scheme.
A new exhibition at the Old Treasury Building focuses on the bitter and divisive debate over conscription in World War 1. A Nation Divided: The Great War and Conscription tells a story of political intrigue, industrial turmoil, civil unrest, government propaganda and passionate idealists – issues worth reflection on Australia’s national day.
As well as festivities in Melbourne’s Kings Domain, Victoria celebrates Australia Day by opening its Government House and grounds to the public. This special experience is free, with roving performers entertaining the queues. The best place to view Melbourne’s fireworks is Docklands, making Travelodge Docklands the perfect place to rest your head for the night.