Sydney Harbour daytime program

The best harbour in the world came alive on Australia Day with free events on the water, land and in the sky for the whole family to enjoy.


All Day

26 January 2023


Circular Quay

901 Darling Drive, Sydney, NSW, 2000

Important Information

Free access

On Australia Day, Sydney Harbour transformed from a bustling working port to a stage full of fun and inspirational events and displays that were enjoyed by thousands from numerous vantage points around the foreshore and on the water.

Many iconic favourites returned in 2023, including the Harbour Parade, Ferrython, Tall Ships Race, Salute to Australia and Defence Force flyover.

Here is a list of events that were staged on and around the harbour on January 26.

Daytime festivities kicked off with the much-loved Australia Day Ferrython from 10:45am, an annual event which saw Sydney’s beloved Emerald Class ferries line up for an epic race from Fort Denison, around Shark Island and back to the finish line under Sydney Harbour Bridge around 11:20am.

The Australian Army, Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force then combined at 11:30am for Salute to Australia. The grand ceremonial display saw defence personnel give a tri-forces Salute spanning Sydney Harbour, featuring HMAS Sydney stationed adjacent at Circular Quay and a stirring 21-gun salute. The spectacle concluded with the Australian anthem sung in both English and Eora language and an impressive midday military fly-over by two F-35 Lightning II fast jets.

Immediately following the Salute was Maritime Mayhem, a high-voltage, action-packed display of stunts and tricks performed by vessels on the water at Circular Quay from 12:15pm.

Spectators who looked to the skies saw the Navy Helicopter Flag Display and before the colourful Harbour Parade set sail, with some of Sydney's most iconic vessels parading around the harbour in a dazzling display of fun national spirit. 

Another mesmerising event for the whole family to enjoy was the Tall Ships Race, where an iconic fleet of historic timber tall ships set off from Bradley's Head and raced to the Harbour Bridge from 1 - 1:30pm.

At Campbells Cove from 2-4pm was the Working Harbour Festival, where Transport for NSW Maritime displayed one of their Harbour Cleaning vessels with an interactive performance by Junkyard Beats. Tall ships and workboats were also on display and members of the public had the opportunity to board the James Craig (Tall Ship) from 2:45pm for a gold coin donation.

The Overseas Passenger Terminal was a hive of activity throughout the day with the family-friendly Mega Kidz Zone, which had a DJ, roaming buskers, street performers, food trucks and more. 

Australia Day in NSW Partners