25 January 2023

All you need to know about what's happening (and what isn't) this Australia Day

| James Coleman
Start the conversation
Lights on the Lake

Lights on the Lake is simply breathtaking. It runs from 25 to 28 January. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

The long weekend that isn’t really a long weekend is nearly upon us. Here’s everything you need to know …

What’s open?

The better question to ask is, ‘What isn’t open?’

Some workers opt to work on the day either for cultural reasons or the extra pay, so it will be business for many, including most cafes, restaurants and bars. But best to ring ahead to make sure.

READ ALSO NFSA invites everyone to watch, listen and then have their say this Australia Day

Supermarket giants Woolworths, Coles and Aldi will be open, as will the local IGA and Spar stores (already among the few open on Good Friday and Christmas Day). The major shopping centres of Westfield, Canberra Centre, Canberra Outlet Centre and South.Point are also open.

It’s really only the banks and Australia Post that close.

With a forecast maximum temperature of 33 degrees, all the usual swimming pools are there to help.

What’s on?

The big government-funded celebration will be held at Regatta Point from 10:30 am to 2 pm, with a program boasting “family-friendly entertainment, free kid’s activities and live music”.

Actors from the Kaleen-based entertainment agency will come dressed as Australian wildlife characters, a duo of Lake Burley Griffin life savers will perform acrobatic stunts, and a variety of local singer-songwriters will provide a Canberra-centric musical soundtrack.

There will also be giant games of Connect Four, Jenga and Bag Toss, as well as tennis and face painting for the kids. ACT Brumbies players and coaches will also pass nets and tackle bags for kids to practice.

It’s all headlined, of course, by a free barbecue provided by the Lyons Club Canberra (while stocks last).

Head to Regatta Point for an Australia Day picnic (ie, snag). Photo: Region.

Further along the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, the 2023 National Citizenship and Flag Raising Ceremony will welcome Australia’s newest citizens with a performance by the Royal Military College Band, a 21-gun salute and a fly-over of RAAF planes (avid plane spotters might like to take up a place at the Canberra Airport for this). A Seahawk helicopter will also fly the Australian flag overhead. Members of the public are welcome to attend the event but won’t have access to the fenced-off area.

For the first time, Lake Burley Griffin will also become a “vibrant canvas of light and colour” for Lights on the Lake. This free 12-minute laser-light show at Commonwealth Place – accompanied by a “stirring soundtrack” – will occur nightly from 25 to 28 January at regular intervals. There will also be night markets with various food, drink and knick-knack craft options.

See the full list of events on Australia Day on the National Australia Day Council website.

READ ALSO Here’s nine of Canberra’s most swim-worthy pools you need to visit

Can I still catch public transport?

Canberra’s buses and light rail will move to a Sunday timetable for Australia Day, much like every other public holiday. Check the full details on the Transport Canberra website and plan accordingly.

If you are driving, bear in mind the closures around Civic on Vernon Circle and London Circuit.

Do double-demerits apply?

Yes. In both the ACT and NSW, double demerits apply from 12 am, Wednesday, 25 January, to midnight on Sunday, 29 January, for speeding, illegal use of mobile phones, not wearing a seatbelt and riding a motorbike without a helmet. Drive or ride with care.

Will my bins be collected?

When it comes to collecting rubbish, recycling or green waste, it’s an ordinary business day. Place your bins kerbside as usual.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.