The top places and events to celebrate Australia Day 2017

Whether you want to eat or party your way through Australia Day, we’ve sought out some of our favourite events across the country (mainly Sydney and Melbourne) for you. Our official national day of celebration comes around this Thursday, but the various events around the country extend far beyond that, from Australia Day Eve (Wednesday) to the weekend, offering a great deal of things to do from chilling with world-class DJs on Sydney’s Darling Harbour or partying non-stop for almost seven hours with one of the greatest DJs in the world, to downing ribs and burgers or tucking into an experimental Vegemite dessert.

Sunset Sessions at Café del Mar (Sydney)

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Even if you aren’t keen on going out on a weeknight (Australia Day falls on a Thursday this year), the Australia Day weekend is always a sure way to hop into the some of summer’s best events. For the Sunday, Sydneysiders get a chance to help Darling Harbour mainstay Café del Mar kick off one of their most ambitious live music series to date. They’re officially launching their brand new “Sunset Sessions” concept on Sunday 29th January with the boundless, second highest-selling Beatport artist of all time Mark Knight. The internationally acclaimed DJ will be spinning one of his in-demand sets at the event, which will also double as the official after-party for the Electric Gardens Music Festival.

To add to the atmosphere, a swag of Sydney’s favourite DJ’s have been added to spin through the day. Beth Yen, Binary (which is Johnny Gleeson and Paul Wheeler), Cadell and Rodd Riches himself will be helping Knight launch this welcome weekly addition to the city’s rebuilding party scene.

It’s a rare opportunity to see and hear why Knight regularly sells out gigs around the world (including in prolific clubs like Womb, Tokyo and Egg, London) up on one of the most picture-perfect harbourside terraces in the area. It’s also a good reason to familirise yourself with what will undoubtedly become one of the quintessential Sunday sessions in Sydney, which will be bolstered the following weekend when Café del Mar celebrate their 3rd birthday with a “massive” international surprise guest (seeing as they’ve partnered with Rodd Richards Presents on the series, we’re expecting big things).

For full details and tickets head to the official Café del Mar website HERE.

Armin van Buuren’s “Armin Only Embrace” (Sydney)

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Those wanting to extend Australia Day to the weekend should be thanking their lucky stars for the timing of Armin van Buuren’s latest trip down under. The legendary Dutch DJ has expressed a love for coming down to Sydney that runs just as deep as his local fanbase, so it’s no surprise that the city is included on his world-dominating Armin Only Embrace tour. As a one-off Australian show, Armin will be taking over the Exhibition Halls at Sydney Showground on Saturday 28th January, a sizable platform for his mind-blowing visual set up which should pair up with treasured records and some new cuts from his most recent album, Embrace.

Special effects, custom designed visuals, dancers and a whole heap of other surprises are being promised for the show, and if you’ve seen clips on how it’s all gone down across sold-out shows in Europe then it’s a safe bet that partying with Armin for almost 7 hours (the concert will run from 10:30pm Sat to 5am Sun) will more than satisfy anyone who needs the loudest, brightest and most intense party possible this weekend.

For all ticket details and bookings head to the Symbiotic Presents website HERE.

Hurricane’s Grill (Sydney, Perth)

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The wildly popular steakhouse is pretty much an Aussie institution now, rising high above other restaurant chains with consistency and a reliable menu. Their various restaurants across Sydney (and one in Perth) are frequented for gigantic saucy ribs based in their original sauce and other meat based menu items such as burgers and steaks, so for those who want to skip the outdoor BBQ and head straight to the good stuff this is your safest bet.

To add to the temptation on Australia Day*, each Hurricane’s Grill (including the recently opened Circular Quay restaurant in Sydney) will be whipping up two exclusives just for the occasion: one burger and one cocktail. The burger, simply named Aussie Burger, is 100% beef with cheese, egg and beetroot sandwiched between a toasted bun served up with chips on the side. It’ll sit proudly on the menu come January 26th, right alongside a Opera Sunset cocktail, which is built with Absolut Vanilla, Cointreau, lemon juice and lemon sorbet.

The Aussie Burger and cocktail will be priced together at $35, though each are being offered separately as well. The Aussie burger by itself (with chips) will set you back $22, while the Opera Sunset cocktail alone will be $15. Both specials will be available from the harbourside Circular Quay and Darling Harbour restaurants; the breezy Brighton Le Sands grill; and for those in Perth, the Hillarys Boat Harbour venue.

Closer to Hurricane’s Express in Chatswood? They’ll be offering just the burger on Australia Day (so no cocktail), priced at $22 with a soft drink and chips ($20 without the soft drink).

*Available from 23rd to 29th January.

The Australian Heritage Hotel (Sydney)

Image: The Australian Heritage Hotel.

One of the best choices in The Rocks for Australia Day, The Australian Heritage Hotel will be going all out with an Aussie-themed backyard party on Cumberland Street with fake turf, stubby holders hanging from a Hills hoist, snags on the barbie, and Hottest 100 all day. Beer will be flowing of course.

For more information click HERE.

ICYPOP takes over the Old Clare (Sydney)

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This Thursday The Old Clare will be playing host to a pop-up from ICYPOP, the appropriately named company who are set on making alcoholic popsicles much more than just a gimmick. For Australia Day they’ll be setting up a booth for DJ’s to spin from arvo well into the night while the bar pours up a range of cocktails, cold brews and four specially crafted popsicles using real fresh fruits, quality alcohol and natural ingredients.

Those four popsciles are: summer pear and elderflower mojito; watermelon and rosewater martini; white peach and lychee bellini; and black cherry amaretto sour. All weather-appropriate mixes boiled down into long, stylish looking popsciles.

ICYPOP’s pop-up will take place at The Old Clare (1 Kensington Street, Chippendale) from 4pm to 11pm, with free entry. You’ll also be able to buy the ICYPOP popsicles from now until 27th January at the Old Clare’s adjoining bottle shop for $7 each.

The Old Clare will also put some exclusive cocktails on the menu for the day: the Good Morning Australia, which is Tanqueray Gin infused with earl grey tea, Cointreau, house made marmalade, and fresh lemon juice; San Box, Johnny Walker Black, Antiqua Formula, Salerno blood orange liqueur, and fresh blood orange juice; and the Pearl Gimlet, Tanqueray Gin, house made pearl finger lime cordial, and fresh lime juice. All three will be available for $18 each.

For more information click HERE.

Goat Island Sounds (Sydney)

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When it comes to Australia Day festivals across the country, there’s nothing quite like rocking up to an island and partying the entire day with some of the finest local talent around. Headlined by Ngaiire and Nina Las Vegas, Goat Island Sounds will return to its namesake with plenty of things to do on this pop-up slice of paradise, including a makeshift chill garden where the Hottest 100 will be playing, and food will be served up by the very reliable team of Butter and Thievery.

For more information click HERE.

Tim Tam Toast at Travelodge (Sydney, Melbourne, Perth)

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Unless you’re a guest, hotels aren’t often on the to-do list for locals looking to have breakfast out. That may change for this Aussie Day though, since several Travelodge properties across the country are putting something pretty damn tempting on their brekky menu: Tim Tam Toast. They’re inviting non-guests and guests to come true the one-day-only treat, which is thick toast with a Tim Tam infused chocolate spread created by the hotel brand’s Executive Chef.

You’ll be able to get this treat only on 26th January at either Travelodge Wynyard (Sydney), Travelodge Perth, or Travelodge Docklands (Melbourne).

For more information and details click HERE.

The Great Australia Day Swim at The Baths Middle Brighton (Melbourne)

Image: The Baths Middle Brighton.

More than 2,000 people are expected to head down to The Baths Middle Brighton to soak up the stunning scenery and kick the day off with a Sausage sizzle, muffins and coffee before sitting down to witness The Great Australia Day Swim. The annual mass swim event will kick off at 12pm and they’ll be plenty of raffle prizes given out on the day along with live music.

For more information click HERE.

Australia Day Tea at The Hotel Windsor (Melbourne)

Image: Hotel Windsor

In honour of The Hotel Windsor’s impressive 134 year history, and in celebration of Australia Day, the historic venue will be offering a unique afternoon tea menu with some of the country’s best known treats through the past century. Executive Chef Joel Alderson has put together a menu that includes: egg mayo ribbon sandwiches infused with lemon myrtle; lamb and turnip pasties; almond sponge with coffee ganache; Tim Tam biscuit, coffee glaze and hazelnut crumble; and The Lamington, with strawberry mousse, chocolate ganache, coconut sponge and cocoa sable.

The venue is now taking reservations for the day at reservations@thew.com.au or +61 (03) 9633 6004.

Australia Day on South Wharf (Melbourne)

Plenty of people in Melbourne flock to the South Wharf come Australia Day, posting up by the water to celebrate with some of the precinct’s finest. Meat Market will stand out this Thursday as they indulge in a $45pp tasting experience (bookings essential) which includes the likes of smoked kangaroo loin, charred pheasant and wattle seed pannacotta from 12pm-3pm. Then you’ve got Plus 5, which will be twisting up their usual tapas and cocktail offering with a barbecued feast (from 12pm to 6pm) of Aussie favourites including chargrilled prawn skewers, chicken marinated in a Cajun spiced beer, and lamb cutlets with a selection of homemade dipping sauces.

If outdoors is more your style, then the precinct’s Common Man Lawn will be transformed into a ‘true blue’ pop-up packed for Australia Day activities, including a set-up blasting the triple j Hottest 100. A snag-masterclass from Head Chef Ivan Pinteric should go down a treat as guests learn how to cook up the perfect ‘snag’ from the best cuts of meat. This will be followed by a gourmet sausage sit-down lunch prepared by the Common Man, with plenty of beer.

Common Man Lawn will also be the site of a big Man vs. Snag sausage eating contest, where contestants will have one minute to eat as many snags as they can, with eight being the current world record. First prize winners will take out a $500 beer tab, while the second and third prize winners will receive a $200 dining voucher and a $50 bar tab.

For more information on Meat Market click HERE, for more information on Plus 5 click HERE, and for more information on Common Man click HERE.

Free Sangas at Empire Steak (Melbourne)

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For two hours, from 12pm to 2pm on Aus Day eve, anyone can head along to Little Collins’ Empire Steak and grab a freebie sanga called “The Duncan”, a day-only offering that pays homage to Slim Dusty’s 1980 hit with 100% grass-fed steak, butter lettuce, tasty cheese, and…Vegemite mayo. Sounds strange, but they’re promising a huge hit of flavour, and since they know a thing or two about handling steaks we think this is more than a worthwhile lunch for those in Melbourne CBD this Australia Day Eve (Wednesday). Just head down and quote “The Duncan” special to get the store-only special (one per person).

For more information click HERE.

Vegemite Dessert Menu at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (Melbourne)

Vegemite for dessert doesn’t sound so tempting but when it’s for an experimental dessert menu at the famous Dinner by Heston Blumenthal then things start to get interesting. Group Exec. Chef Ashley Palmer-Watts has been exploring the many ways this dynamic and distinctive spread can be used and over in the UK at iconic restaurant Bray, the chef has been deconstructing Vegemite the identify fundamental flavours: caramel, rich chocolate, yeast, and saltiness. Studying it so closely has led to to the creation of a Vegemite Ice Cream dessert served on a biscuit sourdough crumble base with toasted puffed spelt, cocoa nibs, burnt honey and macadamia. Furthermore, there are elements of salted caramel with barley chocolate ganache and a verjuice curd, all component of the dish that are drizzled at the table with a rich caramel sauce directly from the spread’s familiar jar.

Vegemite for the dessert is starting to make a bit more sense right? This treat will make it’s debut at the Melbourne restaurant on Australia Day as part of a special four-course lunch celebrated presented by Palmer-Watts. The lunch will feature the very best Australian produce and wines including the new Rosella Wine cocktail, which is inspired by the dried rosella and nerina strawberry used in the jam of the Rosella Preserving and Manufacturing Company.

For more information click HERE.