Stories shared from Dawn to Dusk - Sydney commemorates and celebrates on Australia Day

Australia Day in Sydney has once again led the nation in honouring the strength and resilience of First Peoples through powerful representations of culture and history. The Sydney program strives to be inclusive and harmonious on a day that means different things to different people.

The Sydney Opera House shone brightly with First Nations artwork by acclaimed Western Desert artist and elder Yadjidta David Miller. It was a painting of the Goanna Songline (Ngintaka Inma) that will feature in Solid Rock, Sacred Ground, the opening segment of Australia Day Live at dusk.

As a symbol of unity, the National Australian and Aboriginal flags were raised high above the Harbour Bridge as dawn broke this morning, setting a respectful tone for our national day.

This was followed by a smoking ceremony honouring traditional elders and celebrating the survival of First Nations culture with the WugulOra (“one mob”) Morning Ceremony at Barangaroo Reserve.

Here the National anthem was sung in both the local Eora language and English. It was a time to reflect and respect an ancient culture that is still living today.

Yvonne Weldon, Deputy Chair of the Australia Day Council of NSW, and of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council said, The First Nations events on Australia Day are not only about showcasing our culture but about educating and including all Australians on the journey of reconciliation.

“I am proud to be making a meaningful impact on this day because it means my people and culture are not forgotten. We should do this today, tomorrow and all along the journey. Let us not forget that we are all walking in the footsteps of the ancestors of the world’s oldest continuous culture,” she said.

Later in the morning, the greatest wheelchair race in the world, the Oz Day 10K was held at The Rocks. Now in its 33rd year, the race featured more than 20 athletes from Paralympians to juniors, racing in six categories. Jake Lappin whizzed over the line first in the men’s open race, while Madison De Rozario won the women’s open race.

Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of NSW, who fired the starting gun said “this race is such a thrilling sporting event. The tenacity, fierce determination and competitive spirit of the athletes is extraordinary. On Australia Day, the competitors in this iconic race once again inspire us all to achieve our very best.”

Australia Day Council of NSW Chair Andrew Parker said the Australia Day NSW Program continues to engage with all Australians at a deeper level.

“We have continued to work towards the best expression of our national day’s activities, ensuring that every aspect of our program is welcoming, inclusive and representative of the enormous diversity of this great country. We acknowledge the many challenges with the day but at the same time we encourage the conversation to evolve in a respectful way,” Mr Parker said.

“Australia Day 2022 in Sydney provided an array of outdoor events around Sydney Harbour for families and friends to mark the day in a COVID-Safe way, in line with NSW Health rules and restrictions. People were able to enjoy the activities which took place across many vantage points, at various times in the open-air stage and it was great to witness,” Mr Parker said.

The annual maritime extravaganza the Ferrython, one of Australia Day’s most iconic, popular free events, again celebrated the magnificent Sydney Harbour in all its glory.

The four Emerald-class ferries: the May Gibbs (Mother of the Gumnut Babies); Catherine Hamlin (Maternity healthcare pioneer in Ethiopia); Victor Chang (Heart surgeon and humanitarian); and Pemulwuy (Bidjigal man, warrior and resistance leader), raced to the Harbour Bridge on Wednesday morning, with Pemulwuy taking the line honours for 2022.

There were many vessels competing on the harbour for either finish line honours or best dressed, with the majestic Tall Ships Race and Soren Larsen winning the traditional race on the Harbour.

Up to 2000 boats were out on the harbour on Wednesday enjoying the vibrant atmosphere. The Australia Day Harbour Parade made some waves and celebrated some of Sydney’s most iconic vessels in a dazzling display of fun and national spirit. Vessels of all shapes and sizes proudly dressed their decks, showing off their wacky, patriotic, fancy dressed or elegantly decorated boats on the best harbour in the world.

Boats and crews paraded in their national day finest and battled it out for best dressed and cheeky prizes such as the Going Overboard Award (the most imaginative vessel) and the Budgie Smuggler Award (best small vessel).

This year the Salute to Australia was held at Hickson Road Reserve where the Governor of NSW inspected the guard, honoured homegrown heros and welcomed new Australian citizens.

People enjoyed outdoor picnics on the Sydney Harbour foreshore to watch the Australian Defence Force (ADF) take to the sea and sky. Royal Australian Navy frigate, HMAS Parramatta, was the backdrop for the ‘Salute to Australia’, replacing Landing Helicopter Dock, HMAS Adelaide, after the larger ship was deployed to provide Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief support to the people of Tonga.
Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, said the Australian Defence Force was proud to celebrate community links on Australia Day.

“It’s a longstanding tradition that the Australian Defence Force joins the community to mark our national day. This Australia Day over 1000 Defence people are deployed on operations serving Australia’s interests around the world, including HMAS Adelaide on Operation TONGA ASSIST,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.

During the Salute, the Australian Army fired a 21 Gun Salute. At the climax of the Salute, A Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning II flew past at high-speed before performing a spectacular handling display.

Following the Salute, the Governor of NSW joined HMAS Diamantina, the flagship for the start of the 186th Australia Day Regatta.

The focus for the ADF is now the evening when Army’s Red Berets will perform a parachute drop above the Sydney Opera House during Australia Day Live for those around Circular Quay able to witness this.

Hundreds of Australia’s newest citizens celebrated at ceremonies across the country including the outdoor Lord Mayor’s Citizenship Ceremony at the iconic Sydney Opera House.

Later this evening, in what will be a fitting finale to our national day, the star-studded Australia Day Live concert transforms the Harbour into a stage like no other where crowds can gather safely at the Sydney Opera House forecourt seated concert or along the Circular Quay foreshore. The outdoor concert combined with a spectacular land and water show spanning Circular Quay is the crowning jewel of the Sydney program. The musical and fireworks bonanza, with projections on the Sydney Opera House, a lit vessel parade, dazzling acrobatics of jet-skiers and fly-boarders, will inspire the nation.

Australia Day Council of NSW Creative Director John Foreman OAM, said everyone should experience and watch this year’s show from around Circular Quay or from home on TV, as it’s not to be missed and is a true-blue representation of our Australian spirit.

This year some of our biggest superstar Aussie artists including Delta Goodrem AO and Casey Donovan will uplift and inspire through their amazing music and storytelling.

Joining these powerhouse artists is First Nations pop sensation Isaiah Firebrace; music legend Shane Howard, who with world-renowned didgeridoo player William Barton and Emma Donovan will perform a powerful opening segment based on Goanna’s 80s hit Solid Rock, Sacred Ground; and tenor Mark Vincent, the multi-talented opera artist Josh Piterman with the powerful Nessun Dorma.

Other incredible artists celebrating the Australian spirit include INXS founding member turned solo artist Andrew Farriss, rocker Jon Stevens, country singers Amber Lawrence, Hayley Jensen, Kirsty Lee Akers and Aleyce Simmonds performing a stunning reimagined version of True Blue, the KARI singers, and Koomurri dancers, all backed up by Aussie Pops Orchestra.

For the best views from Circular Quay, West of Circular Quay (First Fleet Park, MCA lawn, Overseas Passenger Terminal and Campbells Cove) is the top vantage point to view the 2022 Australia Day Live free outdoor event, no tickets required. You can hear and see the concert via audio speakers and large digital screens which includes the maritime show, projections on the sails of the Sydney Opera House and fireworks.

All ticket allocations for the Sydney Opera House Forecourt have been exhausted, members of the public are encouraged to watch the concert live on ABC TV and iview from 7:30pm to 9:30pm.

For more information on Australia Day in NSW, please visit

Stay connected: #AustraliaDay2020 - #AusDaySyd -

MEDIA: [email protected] or 0436 684 129

Australia Day in NSW Partners