Sydney reflects, respects and celebrates our national spirit on Australia Day

The Sydney Opera House shined bright with Aboriginal artwork and the Australian and Aboriginal flags were raised high above the Harbour Bridge as dawn broke over Sydney this morning, setting the tone for our national day.

What followed was an inspirational and symbolic showcase of Aboriginal culture with the WugulOra Morning Ceremony at Barangaroo Reserve, where the Australian anthem was sung in both the local Eora language and English, with its new line: “We are one and free”.

This significant event continues to remind us that Australia’s First Nations people are the foundation of our nation’s story and continue to maintain the world's oldest living culture.

Chair of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, Ms Yvonne Weldon said “On Australia Day, cast back your thoughts to the impacts on the First Nations people. As you connect, learn and share today, tomorrow and beyond. Don’t lose sight of the important work that still needs to be done. Bringing my people, your people and our people together.”

One of the greatest wheelchair road races in the world, the Oz Day 10K Wheelchair Race at The Rocks celebrated 32 years this year. Paralympian Jake Lappin whizzed over the line first in the men’s race, while Paralympian Madison de Rozario won the women’s race.

Australia Day Council of NSW Chair Andrew Parker said while crowd numbers across the Sydney CBD are down on previous years due to a reduced program, those with tickets to events and those watching from home would still enjoy the nation’s most popular Australia Day celebrations.

“This Australia Day, even though we may be physically distanced, we are connecting with one another to share our stories, experiences and listen to each other,” Mr Parker said.

Some of NSW’s frontline workers including nurses, RFS volunteers, teachers, transport workers were invited to Government House as part of the Salute to Australia where they received a personal thanks from the Governor of NSW, also featuring a 21-gun salute and an impressive flypast by F-35 jets over Sydney Harbour.

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

In what will be a fitting finale to our national day, 500 frontline workers and their guests will have the best seats in the house to enjoy the star-studded Australia Day Live concert at the Sydney Opera House and spanning Circular Quay. The concert features live musical performances choreographed to a flotilla of yachts, jet-skis, fly boarders and fireworks display on Sydney Harbour.

The concert will feature a tribute to the many individuals who contribute to the community in different ways, including 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.

“This year’s Australia Day Live event will be a night to celebrate our collective resilience and renewed optimism for the year ahead,” Mr Parker said.

“It will also be an opportunity for us all to reflect on the day, the year that has been, and give thanks to our frontline workers for keeping us safe during bushfires, floods and the pandemic.”

NSW Australia Day Creative Director John Foreman OAM said everyone should watch this year’s unique show from home, as it’s one not to be missed.

This year we have one of our biggest line-ups of superstar Aussie artists, including Delta Goodrem, Dami Im and Casey Donovan, all helping us feel the Australian spirit through their amazing music.

Joining these powerhouse artists is First Nations pop sensation Mitch Tambo; music legend Iva Davies, who with world-renowned didgeridoo player William Barton will perform a ground-breaking opening segment that looks at Circular Quay when it was known as Warrane; Todd McKenney, one of Australia's most versatile performing artists with the cast of Shrek The Musical; and tenor Lorenzo Rositano with the powerful Nessun Dorma.

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

Australia Day in NSW Partners