23 September 2019

9 things to do around Canberra this Australia Day long-weekend

| Zoe Pleasants
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Image credit: Events ACT.

If you are staying in town for Australia Day there is plenty happening. The ACT government’s Australia Day events are on again with breakfast in Commonwealth Park, a concert at Regatta Point featuring Justice Crew, a picnic on the Patrick White Lawns, and fireworks over the lake. The Queen’s Baton is spending Australia Day in Canberra and will do a lap of the central basin of Lake Burley Griffin around 4 pm. Inspired by its Songlines and Midawarr | Harvest exhibitions, the Museum is celebrating Aboriginal culture at its Australia Day Festival. The Museum is also putting on a concert in the evening featuring a line-up of local bands. Saturday is Hottest 100 day with a number of venues hosting parties. Sunday is pretty quiet, maybe watch the Australian Open Men’s final or catch Stars Wars The Last Jedi at the Outdoor Cinema?

All weekend

The Gruffalo

Where: The Canberra Theatre
When: 1:30 & 4 pm Saturday, 11 am, 1:30 & 4 pm Sunday
This classic children’s tale is returning to the Canberra Theatre this weekend. Adapted from the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, The Gruffalo tells the story of a mouse who took a stroll through a deep, dark wood. Tickets range from $29–39, book here.

Friday — Australia Day

Australia Day in the Capital

Where: Commonwealth Park, Rond Terrace and Regatta Point
When: 7:30 am – 9 pm
  • 7:30 – 10 am: The Great Aussie Day Breakfast is on again in Commonwealth Park. There will be a sausage sizzle; entertainment on Stage 88 featuring a Sing Australia choir and a Dora the Explorer show; and activities for the kids including jumping castles, face painting and soccer darts.
  • 9 – 10:15 am: The National Flag Raising and Citizenship ceremony will be on at Rond Terrace. This will include a traditional flyover and 21-gun salute.
  • 4 – 9 pm: Australia Day in the Capital features a concert at Regatta Point and a picnic on the Patrick White Lawns, near the National Library. Boy band, Justice Crew will headline the concert, with duo Jess and Matt and local band Tuchasoul supporting. At the Patrick White Lawns there will be cricket, a giant slide, face painting and jumping castles. At 6:45 pm see the ADF’s Multi-Role Helicopter (MRH90) fly over Lake Burley Griffin, and at 9 pm, the day finishes with fireworks over the Lake.

The Queen’s Baton Relay

Where: Commonwealth Park
When: 3:55 – 5:45 pm
On its second day in Canberra, the Queen’s Baton will do a lap around the central basin of Lake Burley Griffin before joining the Australia Day celebrations at Regatta Point. The Baton carries a message from the Queen calling all of the Commonwealth’s athletes to come together in the spirit of friendly competition. It left Buckingham Palace last March and is on an epic journey through all nations and territories of the Commonwealth. It will arrive on the Gold Coast on 4 April in time for the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, where Prince Charles will remove the message from the Baton and read it aloud. There is a list of Baton bearers and a schedule of where the Baton will be here.

Australia Day at the National Museum

Where: National Museum of Australia
When: 9 am – 9 pm

  • 9 am – 9 pm: Two of the Museum’s exhibitions Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters and Midawarr | Harvest: The Art of Mulkun Wirrpanda and John Wolseley will be open all day on Australia Day. And for an added bonus, entry to the Songlines exhibition will be free—no need to book, just turn up!
  • 10 am–1 pm: This year the Museum’s Australia Day Family Festival is inspired by its Songlines and Midawarr | Harvest exhibitions. There will be Aboriginal story-telling with Larry Brandy, dances performed by Wiradjuri Echoes, Bush animal and doll-making with Kalkadoon woman Ronnie Jordan, demonstrations of Indigenous games, and lots of craft activities!
  • 5 – 9 pm: The Museum’s celebrations will continue in the afternoon with Live music and games. Bring a picnic blanket and either pack a picnic or hunt and gather from food stalls on site. There will be a bar, and games to play including Kubb, Ginat Jenga and Connect 4. Local bands Betty Alto, Zackerbilks and The Crossbones will provide the tunes. Finish the night by enjoying the fireworks over the lake at 9 pm.

Australia Day Picnic

Where: Lanyon Homestead
When: 10 am – 4 pm
Lanyon Homestead is opening its doors and hosting a picnic for Australia Day. The Barracks Expresso Bar and Eating House will be there and music from the early days of the settlement will be playing on Homestead’s verandah from 12–2 pm. There will be free tours around the Homestead.

Canberra Wind Symphony

Where: Llewellyn Hall
When: 2:30 pm
The Canberra Wind Symphony is putting on a free concert and its first in Llewellyn Hall. The ensemble will first perform by itself and then will be joined on stage by the American wind ensemble, St Olaf Band. Together the two ensembles will be conducted by St Olaf’s conductor, Dr Tim Mahr, and will perform a program of mainly American music including works by Leonard Bernstein and John Williams and Mahr himself. Register for tickets here.


The Australia Day Weekend Monster Festival

Where: Exhibition Park
When: 6 – 9 pm
A night of monster trucks, motocross, jet cars and loud fun! There will be a fight between a bobcat and excavator to demolish a car, motocross riders will do incredible stunts, monster trucks will crunch and smash their way over stacks of cars and jump high into the air. This family-friendly event will be hosted by country music star Adam Brand and will finish with a fireworks display. Tickets are $50 for adults, $40 for kids aged 12–15, $30 for kids aged 3–11 and $140 for a family of four, book here.

Alice in Antarctica with Sidney Nolan

Where: National Gallery of Australia
When: 2 – 3 pm
Enjoy a free performance by harpist, Alice Giles at the National Gallery this Saturday. She will be playing amongst Sidney’s Nolan’s 1964 Antarctica series paintings, opposite the Gallery’s shop. In 2011 Alice travelled to the Davis and Mawson Stations as an Australian Antarctic Arts Fellow.

Triple J Hottest 100 countdown

Where: Various venues
When: From 12 pm
Triple J has moved the date of its Hottest 100 countdown from Australia Day to the last Saturday in January. If you are looking to join a Hottest 100 party here are four options:

  • Both Capital Brewing in Fyshwick and Bentspoke Brewing in Braddon are celebrating the Hottest 100 countdown of Australian craft beers and Triple J’s Hottest 100. Capital Brewing is hosting a child-friendly event with backyard cricket, cornhole, vertical golf, mist machines, slushies and craft beer. At Bentspoke Brewing there will be beer giveaways, a sweep and a new beer launched.
  • The Duxton in O’Connor is setting up paddling pools on its rooftop terrace again. From 12–7 pm there will be inflatable pools and pool toys, the Somersby Bar and a bistro menu to order from. This is an over-18s only.
  • King O’Malley’s in the city will have a sausage sizzle in the beer garden.

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