Australia Day (26th January) is the anniversary of the arrival of the first fleet of 11 ships from Great Britain, and the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove by Captain Arthur Philip in 1788.
Today, Australia Day is a big event in every cities calendar and we were lucky enough to be in the biggest of them all – Sydney! Just to give you an idea of how important the day is, a massive 11.5 million people get out of their homes and onto the streets to commemorate the day – That’s half of Australia!
We arrived in central Sydney on the morning of Australia day at 10:00AM and to say it was busy is an understatement. We didn’t know what had hit us as we pondered down the streets. It seemed that on every street corner there was somebody dressed up playing music, often the Australian National Anthem.
As we walked we noticed a large group of people heading for cockle bay, so just like a couple of brainless sheep we followed. To our surprise we arrived to many Australians dressed up, with flags painted on their faces and a beer in their hands… This set the tone for the day ahead.
We continued along and slowly made our way over to Sydney Harbour and soon enough we saw the crowd. It seemed like the entire population of Sydney had come here today. There we were, our first day in Sydney, by the wharf looking at the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Music was being played on an offshore barge (pictured below) and just as were getting our heads around all this a helicopter flew overhead, below it, dangling in the wind, was a huge Australian Flag (pictured in header).
We were loving life – The streets were full of performers, every way we looked there was something to see, do or listen to. The best thing about it all was everybody was out to have a good time and celebrate their country.
As we made our way over to the Opera House we were handed Australian flags to wave in the air just like many others around us. The forecourt of the Opera House was covered in people eating, drinking and waving the flag. It was a this point that we decided that we needed to get into the Australian spirit – So we went and got some beers.
We sat, drank and listened to some great music and watched the world go by. The atmosphere was electric with joy, celebration and smiles.
We heard of fireworks and music over by Darling Harbour, a short train journey away – So once again we were off. We arrived and it seemed that again everyone had the same idea as us which was awesome, it simply added to the atmosphere.
Everyone had found their spot looking onto Darling Harbour where all of the action was. We hopped and skipped over many onlookers to find our spot where we nestled in for the long haul. We sat and watched boat parades, canoe races and presenters entertaining via the huge floating big screen in the centre of the harbour for an hour or so.
Then came the DJ for the night, Hot Dub Time Machine. He played music from the 80’s and it immediately got people to their feet dancing. As he continued to play we too got to our feet and danced the night away, soon everybody, thousands of people, were dancing along the waterfront.
The time had come and the music stopped and the countdown begun – 10 quickly became 0 and with that we saw one of, if not the biggest firework display of our lives. It was amazing! Fireworks we being let off from the middle of the harbour on floating pontoons and they seemed to never end, the colours were mainly red, blue and white for the Australian flag. We were gob smacked!
The fireworks concluded with an unmatched crescendo and with that the crowd gave a giant cheer and applause. It was time to go and as we left all we could see were thousands of people with big old smiles on their faces.
What an awesome day! A fantastic event, an unrivalled party of the year to celebrate being Australian. In our opinion, the Aussies have hit the nail on the head with this one, every country should have their own version off Australia Day to celebrate their country. We loved it!