A New ‘Flagship Sydney Spectacular’ Is Born…

This photograph from Instagram user ‘GLANZPUNKT’ says it all.

A new ‘flagship Sydney Spectacular’ is born…

In a time when the other 2 ‘flagship Sydney Spectaculars’, Sydney New Year’s Eve and Vivid Sydney, are in decline, ‘Australia Day Live’ has grown since 2015 to reach this new level of ‘Sydney Spectacular’.

So we now have each year, in terms of ‘flagship Sydney Spectaculars’:

  • Vivid Sydney (Late May to mid-June)
  • Sydney New Year’s Eve (The 31st of December to the 1st of January)
  • Australia Day Live (The 26th of January)

That photograph above does sum up the event’s new scale but it is missing 1 new event element in the photograph – the Hercules aircraft flare dispense – which started the 1st fireworks display of the night:

Other major new event elements included:

  • Boats on Sydney Harbour, most likely from the Sydney New Year’s Eve 2018 – The Pulse Of Sydney: Harbour Of Light Parade, had a synchronised light show.
  • Overseas Passenger Terminal was used for fireworks
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge had an synchronised light show
  • Sydney Opera House was used for fireworks

If you missed ‘Australia Day Live’, the full 2 hour event can be seen below:

‘Australia Day Live’ is the concluding event of  ‘Australia Day In Sydney’, which is also getting larger. But notably, the overall event will have to for ‘Australia Day Live’ to get any larger.

‘Australia Day Live’ is completely focused on Circular Quay except briefly for the Hercules aircraft flare dispense. For it to break the boundaries of Circular Quay, significant crowds would need to appear at Mrs Macquaries Point, Bradfield Park & Mary Booth Lookout. Just as importantly, more boats would need to be anchored in Farm Cove, near Fort Denision & in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

To allow for larger crowds, crowds need a reason to go there. All these locations are very far from Circular Quay – Mrs Macquaries Point is separated from Circular Quay by the Royal Botanic Gardens, which is closed at night & the other 2 foreshore vantage points are on the other side of the Harbour. People do watch ‘Australia Day Live’ from these locations already but they are not in significant numbers yet. All 3 are, after all, very far away to see anything but fireworks, which mostly happen for 15 minutes at 9:15pm (All times in this article are in Australian Eastern Daylight Time).

Unlike Sydney New Year’s Eve, despite the Sydney Opera House now featuring fireworks for ‘Australia Day Live’, there is no need yet to get there early to get a good spot. Last year’s ‘Australia Day Live’ did reach capacity in Circular Quay but that happened half-way through the concert. As far as we are aware, capacity was not reached this year.

This should signal a drop in attendance. And it is easy to see why. If there is 1 flaw with ‘Australia Day Live’, is that it is a ‘made-for-television’ event. The only good place to see ‘Australia Day Live’ is on television or at the Concert itself (so that means you need a ticket & not just be in the vicinity).

If you are around Circular Quay, most of the 2 hours is spent watching a big screen. You might as well watch it on television. The Circular Quay entertainment is split up into 6 distinct shows:

  1. Welcome/Good Times (7:30pm to 7:39pm)
  2. Tug & Yacht Ballet (7:55pm to 8pm)
  3. Sunset Ceremony (8:20pm to 8:30pm)
  4. Tribute To Opera (8:47pm to 8:50pm)
  5. Circular Quay Party (9:08pm to (9:11pm)
  6. Spectacular (9:15pm to 9:30pm)

That’s about 45 minutes of a 2 hour event spent with actual entertainment in front of you and that is not on a big screen.

You might say ‘What about Sydney New Year’s Eve? There is hours between entertainment for that event’.

The difference is that New Year’s Eve is focused around Midnight. Midnight is the whole point of New Year’s Eve. And since Sydney’s Midnight Fireworks are iconic and world famous, people are willing to wait for not just hours but days to see the 12 minute record-breaking fireworks display.

Australia Day is focused around a day – a whole 24 hours. Since ‘Australia Day Live’, as a Circular Quay event rather than the Concert, is promoted as ‘1 event’ rather than ‘5 separate events followed by 1 major fireworks display at 9:15pm)’, you can’t blame the crowd if they leave because they think it’s either over, repetitive or lengthy & thus, boring. The approximately 20 minute breaks between the entertainment is rather disruptive and given most of the earlier entertainment features fireworks, you can’t blame the crowd if they thought they saw the main fireworks display, thought ‘That’s it???’ and left. The lower attendance might also be because the crowd did the same thing last year but waited until the end of the event that time and thought it wasn’t worth the wait this time (Well, they didn’t know how spectacular it would be).

If you got a ticket and were at the actual Concert, it was fine because you get to watch about 8 live performances over the 2 hours taking place on a stage – not a big screen.

The television/Internet broadcast is the same but also had frequent interviews with Australians & feature pieces on Australians and Australia Day.

Essentially, ‘Australia Day Live’ is made up of 4 parts:

  1. Live musical performances
  2. Interviews
  3. Feature pieces
  4. Circular Quay entertainment

The 1st problem needing to be fixed is the inconsistent Circular Quay entertainment. Either by properly advertising it as 6 events at different times over 2 hours instead of 1 2-hour long event or by shifting all the Circular Quay entertainment into 1 bundle, where possible, near 8:45pm or by adding more Circular Quay entertainment so spectators don’t spend 60% of their time staring at a big screen.

The 2nd problem is only if they want to grow the event. To do this, like we said earlier, they need crowds at vantage points further away from Circular Quay. ‘Australia Day Live’ does not have enough prestige yet to have people wait hours at these locations when a better vantage point still has room right up until the event starts. The only way to get a crowd in these locations to expand the overall ‘Australia Day In Sydney’ event.

‘Australia Day In Sydney’ has several events which have a long & significant history but the day can be broken up into 3 distinct event phases:

  1. WulgulOra Morning Ceremony (7:45am to 8:30am)
  2. Salute To Australia (10:45am to 12:15pm) – This includes the Ferrython, Salute To Australia & Tug & Yacht Ballet
  3. Australia Day Live (6:30pm to 9:30pm)

There is a clear 6 hour gap in notable entertainment. There is entertainment but nothing worth the crowd waiting around for. First is In The Sky, a near 2-hour air show but actually features just 3 flyovers: A half-hour helicopter flag display at around 12:20pm; a Qantas A380 flyover at 1:15pm and the Red Berets parachute display at 2pm.

At 12:45pm, the near-hour long Australia Day Harbour Parade begins.  Similar to Sydney New Year’s Eve’s Harbour Of Light Parade, the only difference is that it doesn’t feature lights – just decorations. A big problem is the lack of exclusion zone (for obvious reasons) which cause the Parade to blend in with other Harbour traffic. Also, as it is a Parade, despite lasting nearly an hour, a spectator only sees it for a few minutes.

At 1pm, there is the Tall Ships Race.This is probably something worthy of waiting around for but unlike the Ferrython, it doesn’t start & finish in the same place so unless you are on a boat, you would see either the start or finish but not both. With the finish being the better option to see and the race concluding at around 1:30pm, the near 75 minute wait after the Salute To Australia phase isn’t seen worth it by spectators particularly if they can see the race from another vantage point. They can be on the go.

Essentially, everything between 12:15pm and 2pm, is just watching boats and (very few) aerial displays.

Between 1:30pm and 2pm, the races of the Australia Day Regatta begin near Shark Island. This is a 3 hour event and takes up most of the time before Australia Day Live, finishing no later than 5pm at Shark Island. The fact the race course heads east of Shark Island means it is very far away from the rest of the ‘Australia Day In Sydney’ events and crowds aren’t willing to travel kilometres from Circular Quay to an event that can’t watch (and back) because the Regatta takes up tens of square kilometres stretching from Shark Island to Manly meaning there is no other land vantage point worthy of watching the event from than Shark Island, the start & finish line of the Regatta (so there is limited capacity). The fact the event has several races and intersecting courses means watching from the land can be confusing unless you are at Shark Island too.

So naturally, this means between 2pm and 6:30pm can be rather empty on Sydney Harbour on Australia Day.

But the International Fleet Review Spectactular had just ‘boats and planes’ in the afternoon and lots of people watched that? Yes but it had an ‘anchor’ event – the Spectacular at 7:40pm, which was the biggest multi-medium event on Sydney Harbour at the time. People were waiting all day for that. It provided momentum to the fireworks. Australia Day Live, as we detailed before, isn’t that prestigious yet that people will wait hours for it particularly if the entertainment in the meantime is far away or ‘just passing’.

In the morning between the WulgulOra Morning Ceremony & the Salute To Australia phases, the 10 Kilometre Wheelchair Race in The Rocks, held at 9am, provides suitable entertainment between those 2 phases as it gives a worthy reason for crowds to travel from Barangaroo Reserve, where the Ceremony is held, to Circular Quay, where the Salute To Australia phase is roughly based, so whilst they wait for that next phase to begin, there is at least some ‘half-time’ entertainment that they can watch for a while as it is held on a circuit.

So ‘Australia Day In Sydney’ between 12:15pm & 2pm is entertainment that can be done whilst ‘roaming’ whilst after 2pm, it is rather easily ignored and after 5pm, well there is definitely no entertainment until 6:30pm.

What ‘Australia Day In Sydney’ needs to do, along with our earlier suggestion, is to reorganise the day’s events to the best of their ability so that it provides momentum to the fireworks. These events, ideally held in the late afternoon (but preferably held consistently &/or where relevant all day. After all, it is Australia DAY) and located near Bradfield Park, Mary Booth Lookout & Mrs Macquaries Point, would give crowds a reason to wait there for the fireworks for hours and if the fireworks are just as spectacular as this year and the Concert is fixed up so that people aren’t staring at screens for an hour, it may become prestigious enough that people will wait there for the fireworks, watching that newly placed entertainment and thus allowing the fireworks display to get bigger since more vantage points are now being utilised.

It will take time. There is nothing wrong with the ideas of the existing events – the overall program just needs reconfiguring to allow future growth and again, this will take time. At least 2 years. But if it is delayed & thus affects ‘Australia Day In Sydney’ 2020, it may temporarily halt the overall growth or worse, reverse the trend of growth in ‘Australia Day In Sydney’. That would be disappointing and just when things were getting Spectacular! At least it gave us hope that the annual ‘Sydney Spectaculars’ aren’t declining like we recently thought.

And do not forget the other 2 major challenges for the event – the domestic target audience & the date. But we detailed that in our last article

Anyway, in other news…

Sydney Lunar Festival

Tonight, the Sydney Lunar Festival starts. Formally called the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival, the Sydney Harbour Bridge will be lit in festive red & pink every night during the Festival from 8:15pm until 1am in celebration of the Lunar New Year & The Year Of The Pig. The Festival’s final night is on February the 10th.

It is expected the Sydney Opera House will be illuminated red again for the Festival as per tradition.

A fireworks display will accompany the illuminations turning on for the 1st time during the 2019 festival. To occur between 8pm & 9pm, mostly likely at 8:15pm, the fireworks display occurs somewhere on Sydney Harbour, most likely in Farm Cove & will feature most likely just a single barge. It will feature aerial shell fireworks up to 150 millimetres in size.


Again, this concludes our posts. We may return in December to post if Australia Day Live 2020 is announced to be similar to this year’s (that is, Sydney Opera House fireworks &/or Sydney Harbour Bridge light show)

In the meantime, we will just be adding future event information as it arrives on our site, which we will be refreshing over time.

Also in the meantime, we will continue to work to turn this site into a ‘museum’ of the ‘Sydney Spectaculars’. A new chapter may have just begun with Australia Day Live

Lastly for your information, here are some known milestones to look forward to this year:

  • Until 10th February – Sydney Lunar Festival (Sydney Harbour Bridge & Opera House red &/or pink illuminations)
  • Mid-March – Vivid Sydney 2019 media launch
  • 8:30pm 30 March – Earth Hour (Lights of landmarks are turned off for 1 hour)
  • 7:30pm, 22 March to 21 April – Handa Opera On Sydney Harbour: West Side Story (A nightly performance on Sydney Harbour complete with fireworks. Tickets on sale now) ***FIRST TIME THEY ARE DOING A MUSICAL***
  • 6 to 12 May – United Nations Global Road Safety Week – Leadership In Road Safety (Yellow Sydney Harbour Bridge illumination)
  • 24 May to 15 June – Vivid Sydney
  • 27 October – Diwali (Yellow-gold Sydney Opera House illumination)
  • 11 November – Remembrance Day (Projections of poppies on the Sydney Opera House)
  • 23 780ikj to 26 December – Sydney Christmas (Christmas-themed projection & light shows with a few fireworks displays)
  • Early December – Sydney New Year’s Eve 2019 Media Launch
  • Mid December – Australia Day In Sydney 2020 Program Announced
  • Late December – Sydney New Year’s Eve 2019 White Bay Media Call
  • 31st December – Sydney New Year’s Eve 2019

The above may change as whilst most are annual events, some have not yet been formally announced as occurring this year.

And remember, nearly every night this year, you can see Badu Gili (a projection show on the Bennelong sail of the Sydney Opera House), a projection show on the Australian National Maritime Museum & a light show on Luna Park Sydney’s Ferris Wheel. There are also occasional simple fireworks displays on Sydney Harbour including the regular Saturday night fireworks in Darling Harbour (Yes, they have returned!).

So until next time, goodbye!

Is ‘Australia Day In Sydney’ On The Verge Of Becoming A ‘Flagship’ ‘Sydney Spectacular’?

That’s right – we are back!

We did not think we will be back so soon to writing full posts.

But alas, this will be temporary as this particular event we are going to discuss in this post only gets attention between December & January…mainly January.

That’s right – it’s the event that will be held tomorrow – Australia Day In Sydney.

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, particularly in our previous post, the ‘Sydney Spectaculars’ (as we like to call them) are in decline. There have been only 2 annual ‘flagship’ Sydney Spectaculars ever:

  • Sydney New Year’s Eve (1976 to 1986 & 1989 to the present) and
  • Vivid Sydney (2009 to the present)

The latter is in decline due to attendance beginning to lower due to well the event looking the same and very large crowds (though the latter will likely reduce as the attendance reduces) whilst the former is in decline due to a sudden increase in commercialisation which will, in the future, threat the financing of the event. The commercialisation of Sydney New Year’s Eve will possibly increase even more in this year’s edition.

Coincidentally, Australia Day In Sydney has been the opposite. It has been growing. Here’s the history of, not the date, but the ‘Sydney Spectacular’ side of the day…

On New Year’s Eve (NYE) 1986, a mass murder occurred in The Rocks. This resulted in the cancellation of Sydney NYE as the violence had been growing over the previous 7 years but until then, no murders had occurred.

The cancellation caught Sydneysiders off guard. Seats on NYE cruises were still being sold despite the cancellation being already announced. Suddenly, Sydney had no massive fireworks display & the City pretty much couldn’t cope (figure of speech).

The cancellation was expected to last a few years. Luckily, the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the 1st Fleet was just over a year away so Stephen Hall, the 1986 Sydney NYE director thought ‘Instead of waiting 2 years, why not have 1 giant display on the 26th January 1988 to celebrate the anniversary?’. And that’s what happened:

This was Sydney’s & Australia’s largest fireworks display at the time. It saw the 1st use of the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s upper arch & whilst, in retrospect, you can the technical standards of the Bridge sequence wasn’t as precise and perfect as today, for the time, it was state of the art & left a memorable imprint of the display in the minds of Sydneysiders to this day. Such a imprint that many Sydneysiders consider that display to be bigger than any current Sydney NYE display (I know, right?).

Australia Day In Sydney wasn’t as big after then. Sydney NYE returned the next year & the Bridge returned in 1990 but as part of the NYE display only. I don’t need to tell you all how the history of Sydney NYE evolved from then onwards.

Australia Day In Sydney‘s fireworks displays spread out across Sydney in 1989 to 3 locations: Parramatta, The Domain & Darling Harbour. The latter one grew into the Australia Day Spectacular which lasted until 2017 & became a ‘Sydney Spectacular’ after The Games Of The XXVIIth Olympiad: Sydney 2000. The former two either became a separate event to Australia Day In Sydney or eventually didn’t exist.

In 2014, Australia Day In Sydney re-introduced fireworks on Sydney Harbour for the 1st time since 1988 as part of the P&O cruise ships appearance. This continued until 2016.

Also in 2016, a new nationally-televised concert titled Australia Day – Live At Sydney Opera House was introduced which featured a fireworks display in Circular Quay at it’s conclusion. This was the 1st nationally-televised Australia Day In Sydney fireworks display since 1988 & the most fireworks displays held as part of Australia Day In Sydney (3 – Darling Harbour, Athol Bay (P&O Cruise Ships) & Circular Quay) since 1989.

2017 saw 2 fireworks displays (Darling Harbour & Circular Quay) & the un-eventuated rumour of green & gold projections on the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons & the Sydney Opera House.

2018 saw just Circular Quay fireworks held across 2 simultaneous events, the Australia Day – Live At The Sydney Opera House concert & the new Live At The Quay!. The latter has been combined with the former for tomorrow’s edition (though this was the case pretty much in 2018) with it now called simply Australia Day Live.

No doubt the trend showed fireworks in Sydney Harbour on Australia Day were going to become a more regular and more major occurrence and now we are here, 2019, and is it about to become the 3rd ‘flagship’ ‘Sydney Spectacular’?

As you all know, there have been 2 major changes already announced. Firstly, a change in television broadcaster. The past 3 years have been Network 10, now it is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. And, secondly, the ‘WugulOra Morning Ceremony’ will be broadcast for the 1st time ever. But here are the newest changes this year that could see it make the ‘flagship’ criteria in the next few years:

Radio Broadcasts Return

That’s right. If you are down by the Harbour, 89.3 FM will broadcast the audio soundtracks of both Australia Day Live (from 6:30pm, concert begins at 7:32pm) and Salute To Australia (from 11:30am). However, there is a chance this will include an audio description and thus, is designed for people with impaired vision. The Australia Day In Sydney website does not make this clear. However, it could signal that the event may be about to get large in the future as radio is accessible from many locations. The event is currently restricted to Circular Quay, which isn’t a large enough space deserving of a radio broadcast (except for people with impaired vision). The audio description service may be there to test the waters for future & more larger non-audio description radio broadcasts. You can listen to the soundtracks & audio description online by clicking here.

Lights Seen On The Sydney Harbour Bridge

Vivid-like lights on the Sydney Harbour Bridge appeared 2 nights ago. They were not there the previous nights nor last night & they are not the Sydney NYE lights. They stayed the same purple colour all night. Why? We can only guess. Australia Day Live will feature a light show but we didn’t expect one on the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

We can confirm clearly there will be no fireworks on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Hercules Flare Dispense

The Royal Australian Air Force has confirmed a flare dispense from a Hercules aircraft will occur above the Sydney Harbour Bridge at 8pm tomorrow night.

Could this be an unofficial ‘reenactment’ of sorts of the iconic F-111 flyover that occurred during The Games Of The XXVIIth Olympiad: Sydney 2000 – Closing Night Harbour Spectacular? The only difference being no fireworks – just a light show?

The last time a flare dispense occurred on Sydney Harbour was in 2013 for the International Fleet Review Spectacular and that was just from Squirrel helicopters!

Don’t know what a Hercules aircraft looks like nor what a flare dispense is?

Well here it is (Flare dispenses are usually done to ensure no heat-seeking weaponry is active and/or will strike the aircraft):

Let’s hope it is just as spectacular!

The Future…

Without a doubt if a light show on the Sydney Harbour Bridge appears tomorrow, Australia Day In Sydney could become a new ‘flagship’ ‘Sydney Spectacular’ in the next few years. The Australia Day Live part of the event will definitely be a ‘flagship’ ‘Sydney Spectacular’ tomorrow if the Sydney Harbour Bridge light show occurs.

TIP: The best vantage point most likely would be the south-western corner of the Sydney Opera House. Thus, allowing you a view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay big screen, performances and fireworks & the Concert (located directly behind at the Sydney Opera House’s Southern Forecourt).

The televisual broadcast of the event will need to be improved as the current version of the event does not rate well due to many factors – most notably the fact that Australians are already at their own local Australia Day event. The concert’s line-up is very repetitive due to the fact that most are former singing contest-reality television winners – they have been seen on television too much. They used the same formula during the XXIst Commonwealth Games: Gold Coast 2018 – Closing Ceremony & look how that turned out. It is no wonder that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s NYE concerts have been successful –  it features artists you rarely see on television. The crowds around Circular Quay during the Australia Day Live concert though are large enough for that portion of the event to be rated as a ‘flagship’ ‘Sydney Spectacular’ if the Sydney Harbour Bridge light show occurs during it but not the overall Australia Day In Sydney event …yet.

The overall event still has a low & inconsistent attendance with crowds coming and going throughout the day due to a focus on just the Circular Quay part of Sydney Harbour, events held in many parts of the city and an inconsistent event schedule. You need to always travel when celebrating Australia Day in Sydney. There is no ‘sit down & relax until the fireworks’ like with Sydney NYE which is odd as “sitting down by the Harbour” is quintessentially Australian. Isn’t that what you do on Australia Day then?

Assuming tomorrow’s event is as big as we think it could be, future years could be even bigger. And, if the daytime entertainment is organised in a way that provides momentum to the fireworks, celebrating Australia Day In Sydney may become a ‘must-do’ event.

But there is a problem.

Well, two problems.

Domestic Audience

If the event gets large, it will only be of interest to Australians unless international audiences still just want to see a large fireworks display or light/projection show on Sydney Harbour once in their lives. Sydney NYE is very universal, which is why we at ‘Sydney Spectaculars’ call it ‘The World’s Party’ whilst Australia Day In Sydney is not. It is a very nationalistic event and that is understandable. Australians are likely to be the only ones wanting to attend. However, 1 strength of Australia is that we are the most successful multicultural country on Earth. If the event focuses on Australia’s growing multiculturalism, it may become a more universal event & be more encouraging for international audiences to visit. It is probably a universal truth that Australians produce the best parties (excluding the XXIst Commonwealth Games: Gold Coast 2018 – Closing Ceremony) so we are very confident Australia Day In Sydney could be as successful as Sydney NYE if done correctly.

The Date

As the date of 'Australia Day' is a sensitive issue, if there are any inaccuracies in the section below, just kindly contact us and we will consider your message and rectify anything that we believe makes the below section more historically accurate.

Since 2017, there has been a growing debate on when should Australia Day be held. It is the day when we celebrate Australia. However, there are people who feel the date should be redesignated as it is also the anniversary of when the Indigenous people of the land began to lose their sovereignty due to the arrival of permanent European settlement. We at Sydney Spectaculars pride on historical accuracy so here is the history of the date of Australia Day as far as we are aware.

Since 1901, public holidays in Australia have not been under the control of Australia but the individual Australian states & territories so any change in date must come from each individual state and territory. Australia could place control of public holidays under the Australian Parliament if a constitutional referendum was held to alter the constitution to give the Australian Parliament that power though.

Australia was formed on January 1st 1901 but it was not until the early 1930’s that the States & territories of the Commonwealth Of Australia, one by one, decided to celebrate ‘Australia Day’, a day that celebrates Australia, on the Monday during a long weekend near the 26th January. This meant a previous public holiday of only the state of New South Wales (NSW), called ‘First Landing Day’ or ‘Anniversary Day’ and which was held on exactly the 26th January would be cancelled. That former public holiday celebrated the landing of the 1st Fleet at what is now called Sydney so a clear linkage to the anniversary of the 1st Fleet’s Arrival remained in regards to ‘Australia Day’. ‘First Landing Day’ or ‘Anniversary Day’ was first celebrated in 1818 but it became an annual celebration in 1838.

The date was chosen with that previous public holiday in mind even though the new public holiday was meant to celebrate solely Australia, whose anniversary of it’s creation is January 1st, over 4 weeks prior.

On the 26th January in 1788, the United Kingdom (UK) via Captain Arthur Phillip of the 1st Fleet took possession of the land, which was already home to many Indigenous peoples. The colony of NSW, which was part of the United Kingdom (UK), was not created by Captain Arthur Phillip for nearly another 2 weeks. Nevertheless, the landing of the 1st Fleet at Sydney marked the beginning of a dramatic change in the environment the Indigenous peoples lived in. A change that is still occurring to this day though improvements have been made to rectify certain things (For example, now there are native title claims).

The UK considered the Indigenous population as already ‘British subjects’ (even though the Indigenous population obviously did not know that nor probably did not want to be considered as such anyway at the time) & wanted to establish friendly relations with them but Captain Arthur Phillip did kidnap a few Indigenous people, most notably Bennalong, to ‘establish relations with the overall Indigenous population’ and conflict between the 2 cultures began in the months after the 1st Fleet’s arrival. The arrival of disease dramatically decreased the Indigenous population too though this was accidental. More conflicts & what was later termed, The Stolen Generations, deepened the rift since then though and have prevented the reconciliation between the Indigenous peoples & Australia and the United Kingdom though an apology to The Stolen Generations on behalf of Australia to the Indigenous peoples was issued in 2008.

In 1938, the Indigenous population of Australia called the 26th January a ‘Day Of Mourning’ (because it was the 150th anniversary of the 1st Fleet’s arrival) and from 1988, ‘Invasion Day’. It should be noted that whilst the United Kingdom and later, Australia, always considered the Indigenous population as one of them (that is, British subjects or Australian citizens, despite the Indigenous population not having full citizen/subject rights until the late 1960’s), the Indigenous peoples were & are still ‘separate’ despite living in the same locations or sharing multiple ‘citizenships’ & cultures. Formal recognition of the Indigenous culture & reconciliation between the Indigenous peoples & Australia and the United Kingdom still has to be realised to this day. The United Kingdom formally separated from Australia in 1986. However, they still share the same Monarch, who holds the title of Queen in each country separately.

If there was any doubt about what the date of ‘Australia Day’ symbolised or what the public holiday was celebrating, it was removed in 1988, when all States and territories decided for just that year that ‘Australia Day’ would be celebrated on exactly the 26th January as 1988 was the Bicentenary of the 1st Fleet’s arrival. So this means that evidence shows that as late as 1988 ‘Australia Day’  was celebrated to commemorate the anniversary of the 1st Fleet’s arrival to Sydney rather than Australia.

In 1994, ‘Australia Day’ was moved to exactly the 26th January permanently, most likely for the same reason as the 1988 date change. The only difference being that it wasn’t the 200th anniversary anymore.

In 2016, debate began about what is the right date to celebrate ‘Australia Day’, a day that celebrates Australia. Local governments & Triple J rescheduled their celebrations to days not on the 26th January. The Federal Government threatened local governments that they will remove the right to host citizenship ceremonies as part of their ‘Australia Day’ celebrations if those celebrations are not held exactly on the 26th January. This is a hypocritical view since ‘Australia Day’, for most of it’s history, has not been held on the 26th January exactly. In 2019, this escalated with the Federal Government announcing new rules for citizenship ceremonies which will be implemented in 2020. This probably signals that as late as mid-2016,  most Australians celebrate ‘Australia Day’ for the 1st Fleet arrival anniversary rather than for Australia.

Nevertheless, the trend of the past 2 and a half years shows that a shift in when ‘Australia Day’ should be held is occurring. However, for now, it is only occurring in certain places and particularly in the youth population.

The date is currently the greatest threat to ‘Australia Day In Sydney’ becoming a ‘flagship’ ‘Sydney Spectacular’ as public opinion is shifting rapidly. It’s hard to organise an event without knowing which date it is on & if anyone will attend anyway.

It’s probably fate that 26th January (or any date between the 20th January & 7th February, the date the colony of NSW was formally created) will not be the date ‘Australia Day’ will be celebrated on some time in the future. Some people may feel that 26th January is significant, some don’t. Dates mean different things to different people. To be united as 1 country on 1 day, we need to all come together. If the day we are meant to be united as 1 country is the day we are disunited as 1 country, then something is clearly out of place. Understanding, recognition, reconciliation and unity will help Australia decide an alternative date between the 2nd February & 19th January. We all just have to try.

This, along with the multiculturalism focus we spoke of earlier, will allow ‘Australia Day In Sydney’ to become a ‘flagship’ ‘Sydney Spectacular’ without any issues. It will take time but it is on the verge.

As the date of 'Australia Day' is a sensitive issue, if there are any inaccuracies in the section above, just kindly contact us and we will consider your message and rectify anything that we believe makes the above section more historically accurate.