24 January 2024

Australia Day in the Illawarra's great outdoors

| Jen White
Start the conversation
Boy with Australian flag at water's edge.

The beach will be a popular spot for Australia Day activities in the Illawarra. Photo: Envato/Daria_Nipot.

The Illawarra’s three councils are taking advantage of our beautiful beaches and lake to host Australia Day activities this year.

Kiama Council is breaking with tradition and for the first time will hold its Australia Day ceremony at Jones Beach, rather than in a community hall.

“What could be a more appropriate way to mark our national day than at a local surf club?” Mayor Neil Reilly said.

“Most of our community enjoy their Australia Day at their local beach or park, so we thought why not join them?

“The Kiama Downs Surf Life Saving Club gets a great turnout for their Australia Day celebrations, and we’re delighted they’ve agreed to have us on board.”

Activities will be held from 7-11 am, including a breakfast barbecue, Welcome to Country, Australia Day address and citizenship ceremony, a smoking ceremony and Indigenous dance performance, as well as beach games and activities.

Jamberoo’s Australia Day celebrations will be at Kevin Walsh Oval, with a barbecue, live music and activities from 9-11 am.

In Gerringong, there’s an Australia Day barbecue in front of the Bowling Club, at Werri Beach from 7-11 am.

READ ALSO Kiama Lions’ concert clean-up supports local surf club’s campaign to repair roof

Cr Reilly said council would also move the date of its community awards from Australia Day to coincide with Local Government Week in August.

“We’ve made this change to ensure a greater profile for our local community awards,” he said.

Wollongong Harbour will be the focus of activities in the city, with an evening of entertainment, food and fireworks.

Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery said the day meant different things to different people in the community, and was a day to reflect on our nation’s past, respect contributions and come together as a community.

“Australia Day is currently recognised with a public holiday on 26 January. We will hold our annual family-friendly community event with fireworks to mark the occasion,” he said.

“It’s important we acknowledge that Australia Day is not a positive experience for all Australians. It’s a significant date in our national story, one for reflection.

“As a council, we are committed to reconciliation, and to celebrating and supporting local Aboriginal communities. We are also part of a nation still debating the date.”

A smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country will open the event at 5 pm. There will be activities for the kids with craft and jumping castles, plus roving performers, Aboriginal dance group Djiriba Waagura, music, and food stalls.

READ ALSO Wearing lifejackets now compulsory at Wollongong’s rock fishing spots

The night will wrap up with a fireworks display over the harbour at 9 pm.

Council is partnering with Cram Foundation to provide an accessible viewing area for people with disability or accessibility requirements, and their family, to watch the fireworks.

Registrations can be made by clicking here.

Other activities and events to mark Australia Day include the MMJ Aquathon at Belmore Basin on Australia Day, from 8-11 am. For more information, visit the Aquathon website.

The annual citizenship ceremony will also be held on Australia Day, when Cr Bradbery will welcome 77 new Australian citizens from 36 countries including Honduras, Poland, Eritrea, Syria and the UK.

Formerly called the Wollongong Australia Day Awards, the City of Wollongong Awards ceremony will acknowledge the people and organisations who make Wollongong a better place. A reception for winners and nominees will be held on Friday 19 January.

Shellharbour City Council will hold its Breakfast by the Lake on Australia Day for the first time since the COVID pandemic stopped the annual event.

READ ALSO These tall tails tell a story of Shellharbour

Residents are encouraged to grab their picnic blanket, favourite hat, and sunscreen and head to Reddall Reserve for a hot breakfast from 8 am. A range of food stalls will be on site, offering everything from coffee and doughnuts to street food.

Free entertainment will include performances by duo Kay Proudlove and James Van Cooper, Minor Gold featuring ARIA nominated artists Tracy McNeil and Dan Parsons, Nashville expat Kevin Welch who now calls the South Coast home, and a favourite among Australian blues and music fans, Ray Beadle.

The kids will be kept entertained with a musical playground, bush magic adventures, jumping castles, laser and water tag and a mobile games theatre.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Illawarra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Illawarra stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.