Firstly, it is important to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land. Here at Alternative Media Group, we pay our respects to the elders both past and present; and extend that respect to all Indigenous Australians and Torres Strait Islanders.
For many of us, this long weekend will make us feel discomfort and shame over Aussie pride. For those of us not willing to don Australian flags and chant, “Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi”, there are some alternative ways to embrace our culture.
WugulOra Indigenous Ceremony
There will be various events occurring with an Indigenous touch. At the Sydney Opera House, on the Northern Boardwalk, there will be a WugulOra Indigenous Ceremony. The word, ‘wugulora’ comes from the Eora people which means ‘one mob’. The ceremony will consist of the Aboriginal flag to rise on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and performances by the NSW Public Schools Aboriginal Dance Company. Jan 26, 7:30am-8:00am, Northern Boardwalk, Sydney Opera House, free, australiaday.com.au
Victoria Park in Newtown will host the Yabun Festival, celebrating the continuation of the oldest surviving culture on earth. Event organisers described to us that in a recent TV show on SBS called First Contact it unveiled that six out of 10 people had never been in contact with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person before.
What better way to immerse yourselves in the oldest living continuous culture on Earth than with a full day full of musicians, cultural dance, art and some of the country’s best speakers?
“We’re anticipating about 25,000 people and more to attend this year’s event,” Kieran Satour, Festival Coordinator says. “We’ve sparked up a lot of attention on the social media spectrum this year. The whole community is invited to come down and enjoy this family friendly event. Culture has existed here for sixty thousand years, that is a reason for all Australians to celebrate.” Jan 26, 10am-6pm, Victoria Pk, Newtown, gold coin donation, yabun.org.au
Havianas Australia Thong Challenge
We may not possess the haute couture of Paris, Rome or New York but you can’t deny us of a fantastic clothing sense. Of course, it is customary to show off your favourite ugg boots, flanno, singlet or sarong. But our thongs, aka flip-flops, protect our feet from everything and anything. And not just any thongs – the crème de la crème of open-toed footwear, Havianas.
North Bondi will be hosting the 10th anniversary of the Havianas Australia Thong Challenge. Commencing at 12pm, each major beach nationally will compete for the title to create the longest line of inflatable Havianas at one time in the water. For three years consecutively, Cottlesloe in WA has taken out the title with 2,099 people attending last year. North Bondi is determined to win the title. “I have participated in every event since the beginning,” Emma Kowaleczko, Marketing Manager for Havianas says. “It’s one of those memorable and special Australian moments. Strangers talk to one. It’s a fun family-friendly event.”
If you’re not too keen on going into the water, there will be Haviana thong inspired games to play on the sand and professional sandcastle builders will exhibit their skills. Jan 26, North Bondi Beach, various activities from 8am, online registration $30 (inc $10 donation to Nippers & giant Havaianas inflatable), havaianasthongchallenge.
Down Under Burlesque Show
Sprucing and spicing up the shenanigans before the big day, the Down Under Burlesque Show by burlesque artist, producer and choreographer Sheena Miss Demeanour will have the audience in stitches. For one night only, the Red Rattler will exhibit 12 separate acts of burlesque with iconic symbols and songs that encapsulate the essence of Australiana.
“We want all the yobbos and Shazzas to come down, enjoy the traditional Australian icons, with a burlesque twist,” Sheema says. “We have acts from a prawn star (played by myself), Ned Kelly and the Vegemite Kid. We even have an act of magpie swooping. Its just a fun night before the big day.” Jan 25, The Red Rattler, 6 Faversham St, Marrickville, Doors open 7:30pm, $26-$35
Free Concert at the Rocks
The Rocks will be providing free live entertainment at the First Fleet Park and Atherden Street. Some of the up and coming and established musicians that will play are Little May, Winterbourne, Fishing, The Lulu Rae, Saskwatch, Thelma Plum, The Bombay Royale and Dustin Tebutt.
“The most important thing to remember on Australia Day is that we’re lucky to be here in this country, living the way we live,” Dustin Tebutt says. “It’s a rare and precious thing and it should be taken for granted. I think that goes for everyday of the year, but it’s a good mantra for the celebration this coming weekend.” Jan 26, 12pm-6pm, First Fleet Pk & Atherden St, free
Fireworks at Cockle Bay
And then to close the night with a fizzle and boom, overlooking Cockle Bay and Tumbalong park will light up the night with fireworks, digital effects, multimedia and music with an event the whole family can enjoy. Jan 26, 7pm-9pm, Cockle Bay & Tumbalong Pk
Written by Erika Vass