Australia Day 2021 encourages unity and community spirit – at home

Speaking at the official launch of the Australia Day 2021 program, Minister Ayres said the event will celebrate our resilience and unity, reflecting on the remarkable ways our communities have responded in these challenging times. 

“Like everything throughout this pandemic, Australia Day 2021 will be different to previous years,” Mr Ayres said.

“To ensure we have a COVID-Safe Australia Day, we will be staging fewer events. Celebrations will be shared with the nation on TV and online and everyone can watch from home. 

“The 2021 program showcases Aboriginal culture – proudly the oldest living culture in the world

– celebrates our newest citizens, provides a chance to thank our frontline workers for their ongoing and tireless efforts, highlights inspirational Australian talent and asks the community to continue to support their local regions,” Minister Ayres said.

The evening’s Australia Day Live concert at the Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay will feature a tribute to the many individuals who contribute to the community in different ways. This includes a projection on the Opera House sails as a thank you to all frontline workers for their tireless efforts during the pandemic and last summer’s bushfires.

Aussie music icons Delta Goodrem, Casey Donovan, Dami Im, Mitch Tambo, Todd McKenney, tenor Lorenzo Rositano, along with world-renowned didgeridoo player William Barton will entertain the nation with their epic performances. Plus, in a ground-breaking opening segment that looks at Circular Quay when it was known as Warrane, music legend Iva Davies. Rounding out the talent is the Indigenous vocal group KARI, the renowned Koomurri Aboriginal Dance troupe and VOX Sydney Philharmonia Choirs. Aussie Pops Orchestra will back up the artists, with Australia Day Creative Director and music maestro John Foreman as host alongside Jeremy Fernandez and Casey Donovan.

“As with New Year’s Eve, NSW residents are encouraged to stay local and celebrate in their communities, even if it’s just throwing a snag on the barbie at the park or playing backyard cricket with the family,” Mr Ayres said.

Australia Day Council of NSW Chair Andrew Parker said significant planning meant that the community could still enjoy the spirit of Australia Day but in a COVID-Safe way.

“While this year’s day-time Harbour-based activities won’t be proceeding, there are key Australia Day in Sydney moments such as the WugulOra Morning Ceremony, the Salute to Australia, Citizenship Ceremony and the spectacular Australia Day Live at the Sydney Opera House going ahead and being broadcast for the entire nation to enjoy,” Mr Parker said.

“There is no doubt we have had a tough time in recent years. Our national day is a symbol of hope and optimism. It is also an opportunity to thank people across NSW who have stepped up during this difficult time.

Australia Day NSW Creative Director John Foreman OAM said: “The day is about celebrating our diversity and sharing stories. We hope the concert, with its powerful performances and tributes, adds greater meaning to our national day.”

Australia Day 2021 – Key Sydney Program

  • 30am - WugulOra (meaning ‘one mob’) Morning Ceremony at Barangaroo which includes a moving Welcome to Country, performances by Aboriginal groups, singer/songwriter Emma Donovan, and the national anthem sung in the local Aboriginal language, Eora, and English, with its new line: “We are one and free”.
  • 00pm - Salute to Australia at Government House – will feature a 21-gun ‘Salute to Australia’, a small citizenship ceremony and the Governor of NSW will deliver an Australia Day message. There will be an impressive flypast of two new F-35 fighter jets across Sydney Harbour, taking place at the end of the Salute (2pm broadcast package).
  • 30pm - The Lord Mayor’s Citizenship Ceremony at the Opera House will be livestreamed for the community, as our newest citizens pledge their allegiance to Australia.
  • 30pm - Australia Day Live at Circular Quay and Sydney Opera House is a unique concert taking place both on land and water, featuring live musical performances choreographed to a flotilla of yachts, jet-skis, fly boarders and synchronised pyrotechnics display on the Harbour.

To ensure public safety, restrictions will be in place around the Circular Quay foreshore precinct. Only those with a confirmed restaurant or venue booking will be allowed entry into the area after 5pm. QR check-in will be a requirement of entry to the precinct and venues.

Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, the NSW Government and The Australia Day Council of NSW will monitor changes and follow health advice regarding the limited free ticket opportunities. Details around ticketing for events including WugulOra at Barangaroo Reserve and two public viewing locations at Circular Quay to watch the fireworks and maritime show part of Australia Day Live will be made closer to the day, subject to health advice.

Tune into ABC TV and iview for the live broadcast of WugulOra Morning Ceremony at 7.30am; the Salute to Australia at 2pm; and live broadcast of Australia Day Live at 7:30pm-9.30pm.

For more information on Australia Day in NSW, please visit

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Australia Day in NSW Partners