Australia Day means many things to many people. For some, it’s a celebration of our freedom, democracy and standard of living, and the chance to come together with family and friends to celebrate what’s great about being an Aussie.
Australia Day in Canberra. Photo by Visit Canberra
Across Canberra, a broad range of Australia Day events are held to mark the occasion on January 26. A good way to start the day is attending the National Citizenship and Flag Raising Ceremony, which officially welcomes Australia’s newest citizens. Set against a backdrop of Lake Burley Griffin and Parliament House, the ceremony is open to guests and spectators alike. At the 2017 event Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the crowd that today’s Australians come from 200 countries and hold a diversity of faiths, cultures and backgrounds.
The moving ceremony, which brings the nation’s values to the fore, is a life-changing one for newly adopted Australians, including Mexican-born opera star Diego Torre, who became a citizen in 2016. Torre, who sang the National Anthem in front of the Prime Minister, described the ceremony as inspirational.
“After I arrived here everyone was very, very warm to me and my family. We discovered Australia was a beautiful country to live in and to stay and raise children.’’
Celebrate Australia Day, Canberra. Photo by Visit Canberra
Torre’s two-year-old daughter was with him at the ceremony. “It was a really special day. It was one of the best things that could happen to me,” he says.
South Australia chair of Australia Day celebrations, Houssan Abiad, says the ceremony is not about forgetting where you came from, or your language and culture, it is about injecting all of this into Australia’s culture.
After the ceremony, ease your way into an afternoon of celebrations, as you gather friends and family, a picnic and good cheer, and head to the Australia Day in the Capital concert. Staged on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, crowds will be treated to music and entertainment into the evening. Kids’ activities and play zones will be available to keep the little ones happy throughout.
End the day with a bang with the Australia Day fireworks, an amazing pyrotechnic display themed to music.
If there’s one person that has insight into this day of nation-wide celebrations, it is Stephanie Brantz, Sports Presenter and ABC Australia Day host. We sat down with Stephanie ahead of the big event to discover just what makes Canberra the perfect spot to celebrate.
AH: Why take part in Canberra’s Australia Day celebrations?
SB: What better place to spend Australia Day than in the nation’s capital, on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin with the view across to Parliament House, watching new citizens from all around the world receive their citizenship certificate from the Prime Minister?
What’s a highlight of the celebrations for you?
The Federation Guard. The way they march onto the parade ground at Rond Terrace, accompanied by the band, all in perfect step… I never get tired of watching it. I also love interviewing the new citizens as part of my role for the ABC broadcast. It’s a privilege to hear their stories and find out what made them decide to call Australia home.
When you’re in Canberra, where do you like to go exploring?
Over the years I’ve spent many wonderful hours lost in Questacon… it’s definitely not just for kids!
Favourite place for brunch?
My son is in first year at the University of Canberra and next to his residential lodge is The Coffee Grounds cafe, where we had a great brunch, though I’m also quite partial to Pork Barrel near the Rose Gardens of Old Parliament House in Parkes — fantastic food, and a lovely ambience to relax with friends or the paper.
Last time I was in Canberra for dinner I ate at Pomegranate in Kingston, which I would definitely go back to. And also Belluci’s in Manuka for a good Italian meal.
From the Australian War Memorial across the Lake, past Old Parliament House to the new one. A triumph of town planning!
Favourite shopping spot?
Paperchain Bookstore in Manuka. I love browsing bookstores anyway, but I always end up buying something here and it’s not just books — there are so many cute things for gifts (or to treat yourself).
The National Carillon. I’d always seen it and heard the bells ring out but never really knew what it was. I came across it up close one day when walking around the lake. It’s on Aspen Island, Lake Burley Griffin, and was apparently a gift from the British Government to celebrate Canberra’s 50th anniversary! Who knew?!
Make the most of your Australia Day in the nation’s capital this summer at Abode Narrabundah. Located just minutes from Canberra’s Parliamentary Zone, and the lively Manuka and waterfront Kingston dining and entertainment precincts, you’ll be right amongst the action. Book your stay here.