Whatever your thoughts on the national day, there might be nothing more Aussie than our love of a day off. So when next Thursday rolls around, and you’re not racing off to work, amble your way into one of the city’s many free events instead.
You can of course, start your day with the Official Flag Raising Ceremony outside Melbourne Town Hall. From there, the vibrant Australia Day Parade will lead down Swanston Street where you can cheer on more than 90 cultural and community groups and lap up the free entertainment.
Conveniently, the parade ends at the RACV Australia Day Festival in Kings Domain Gardens. This fun, family event includes a free concert headlined by Justine Clark, a multicultural-themed Food Truck Park, a showcase of vintage and classic cars and an impressive fly-over by the Royal Australian Air Force Roulettes. Or come along to Share the Spirit Festival in Treasury Gardens, Victoria’s longest running Aboriginal music festival. You can expect a day of Aboriginal dance, culture and music for the whole family.
There are plenty of opportunities to learn more about the cultural heritage of our city this Australia Day, with tours of Melbourne Town Hall running hourly from midday to 3pm, so that you stand on the portico where the Beatles waved, sit in the Lord Mayor’s chair and view the richly carved Melbourne Town Hall Grand Organ.
Government House, as well as the mews, with its stables, and the surrounding eleven hectares of gardens will be open to the public. Bring a picnic and enjoy the live music on the West Lawn or treat yourself to tea and scones from the Country Women’s Association.
At the other end of the scale, embrace Melbourne’s more modern culture – love of sport and food and enjoy the free Australian Open Festival. Bite into dishes from some of Melbourne’s best eateries including Mamasita and Gazi while you watch the tennis on the big screen. Or head over to Common Man in South Wharf for a fun-filled day including a snag-making masterclass, ‘Man vs. Snag’ sausage-eating contest, face painting and tunes thanks to Triple J’s Hottest 100.
Embrace some culture, get out of the sun and entertain the whole family at the NGV Kids Summer Festival with a host of free activities.
If you don’t want to wander far this Australia Day, we’d suggest getting to Docklands where you can celebrate from day to night. Young soccer fans can burn off some energy at the U-Nite Fan Day ahead of the Melbourne Victory vs. Sydney FC match at Etihad Stadium (the only ticketed event on this list). Then wrap-up the day at Australia Day at Docklands along Harbour Esplanade, where roving entertainment and a sizzling Food Truck Festival (that extends the idea of the great Australian BBQ) will take you through to the spectacular fireworks display set to an all-Australian soundtrack.