National celebrations are one of the important days for all countries. It's the day when patriotism is at an all-time high and a great opportunity for people to show their love towards their home nation. I got to experience my first Australia Day this year after becoming an adopted citizen and boy! Was I waiting for this day, or what? I had read up on Australia's rich &diverse culture and experienced bits and pieces of it, but to experience it as an Australian citizen gave me a whole new sense of pride.
In my home country India, National day celebrations are on a smaller scale with most of the programs ending before noon. But Australia Day celebrations are on a larger scale with an event-packed day, from morning till night. It's a day steeped in many traditions and events that have a history of more than a hundred years.
Australia Day celebrations in Sydney are concentrated mainly around the harbour. There are many events like the Ferrython, Wugulora Indigenous Morning ceremony, Tall Ship race, RAAF aerial display to name a few. There is also the 21 Gun Salute, Tug and Yacht ballet, Australia Day Regatta and Harbour parade. The curtains to the Australia Day celebrations in Sydney are dropped with the Darling Harbour fireworks. A spectacular visual display of pyrotechnics, it's definitely a fitting end to the Australia Day celebrations in Sydney.
Since most of these events happen in and around the harbour, I decided to spend my first Australia Day as an Aussie national around Sydney Harbour. There were many Australia Day cruises covering most of the events happening on the harbour. They had complete packages, offering great views of the harbour events and gourmet lunches. Since there were limited seats to prevent overcrowding of the vessels, I decided to go for it before the seats ran out!
Boarding was at 10:15am, so to be on the safe side we reached the wharf by about 9:45am. Our vessel for the day was a paddlewheeler and looked very much like a vessel that would take us back in time. When boat races began in 1837, spectators stood on the decks of ships to get the best views of the races. It's nice to see the tradition still kept going with Australia Day cruises now doing their part.
The viewing deck on top offered great views all round and we were able to see all the events,taking in every little detail. Combined with the delicious buffet meal, we had a great time, to say the least. The convenience is what appealed to me the most, as you get to see a large chunk of the celebrations with an Australia Day cruise on Sydney Harbour.
At 2pm after the cruise returned to the wharf, we alighted and went home to rest briefly before heading down to Darling Harbour to see the grand finale to the Australia Day celebrations! We were treated to a musical extravaganza with indigenous songs and more harbour events like the dragon boat races. The final event was the fireworks display that and provided a fitting end to the grand day.
My only disappointment was not being able to go on an Australia Day dinner cruise as it would have given a fine view of the fireworks display. Well there is always the next Australia Day and I will definitely be back for more!