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Out & About

6 Ways To Spend Australia Day In The Illawarra

Where To Gather With Friends + Family, And Connect With Community In 2023

This year the Australia Day public holiday will land on a Friday and gives us an opportunity to connect with our wonderful Illawarra community. This day carries with it a range of emotions, thoughts and feelings. We are so grateful to live in a place where we can share and talk about this with those around us.

Here’s a list of some events and places we can connect with the community this Australia Day, in this beautiful slice of the world we call home.

Always was.

Always will be.

1 :: Illawarra Aquathon + Australia Day at Wollongong Harbour

Australia’s biggest [and probably most fun] swim-run is back in Wollongong Harbour. Whether you’re looking to smash those New Year’s fitness goals or just want to spend your public holiday splashing about, then Aquathon is for you! 

Sign up solo or even tag-team with a buddy. There are events to suit everyone with long, short and mini Aquas, plus a kids’ one for the little fishies. 

Not a swimmer? All good, sign up for the Blue Mile 5 Fun Run to get moving while remaining on terra firma. 

And if spectating is more your passion, then that’s cool too. In the evening Wollongong City Council is hosting a family-friendly event in the harbour with food, entertainment and fireworks at 9pm. 

2 :: Catch The Show

The beloved Kiama show is going to be held over the 26th and 27th of Jan so you can get your fun fix.

There are all the goodies we expect from a classic country show including horse and cattle events, woodchopping, food and craft exhibitions and even a junior Lego exhibition – how fun is that?

There’ll also be sideshows, games and activities and of course, stands selling tasty bites and drinks. Why not sign up for the Billy Cart Grand Prix held on both days? And if you happen to find yourself there again on Saturday, make sure to stick around for the 9pm fireworks.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for kids and under 5’s are free. They also have family passes for $35 that cover 2 adults and 2 children.

3 :: Breakfast By The Lake

Brekkie by the lake at Reddall Reserve in Illawarra is back for the public holiday. Pack your picnic blanket, hat and sunscreen and prepare for a morning of free family fun.

Chomp down on sizzling bacon, eggs and pancakes [yay, pancakes] all cooked up by volunteers from Oak Flats Scouts and Jamberoo Junior Football Club. There’ll also be other food stalls to choose from and of course coffee carts to keep the parents and carers fuelled.

Enjoy a line-up of fun musical acts as well as loads of kid-friendly activities like slip ‘n slides, water play, a musical playground and more. What a gorge way to spend a summer morning!

4 :: Hit the roof

Wollongong’s beloved rooftop bar Humber will be hosting their usual Fiesta Fridays! Hit up their bustling rooftop for $3 tacos, $15 Margaritas, $8 Coronas and $8 Tequilas. Make sure to book your spot to avoid mucho disappointment.

On the 26th, The Fitz Cafe & Bar will also be open from 7am to 3pm and have brunch and/or lunch covered. They have one of the best rooftops and drink menus in town [trust us, we’ve done our research…. *hiccup] so why not use this time to connect with your pals, sans-ceiling? 

5 :: Gather for a picnic in the park with friends and family

Grab your loved ones, your favourite picnic blanket and a big old esky. The Illawarra boasts a ton of perfect picnic spots and a few of our faves include:

Stanwell Park’s playground + beach = superb

Wollongong Botanic Gardens is always beautiful and has plenty of space so you won’t be wrestling for a spot.

Shellharbour Village Foreshore is a great playground for the kiddos, and close to yummy fish and chip shops. 

Integral Energy Park has shaded picnic tables, BBQs and a DOUBLE FLYING FOX! Let’s get racing!   

Fill up your picnic hamper with goodies from one of our many local providores. The Pickled Poet in Thirroul has a fantastic selection of cheeses, meats and accompaniments to make your picnic fancy pants. Or to save you all the guesswork, pre-order a grazing box from Deli & Dine on Market and be totally sorted.     

6 :: Pubs and Clubs

A few local spots are hosting spesh events for you to check out. 

Club Windang will be serving up old-school OZ rock by the IKONZ tribute band from 12:30pm. There’ll also be competitions with prizes and a BBQ fundraiser. We love this club on a sunny day out in the beer garden so let’s hope the weather turns it on for us.

Another spot showing off classic Aussie rock will be Tap House @ Groundz Precinct in Dapto. Starting off with a classic OZ rock anthems sesh followed up by a Chisel/ Barnes tribute show set to get you belting out the tunes all arvo long.

The Illawarra Yacht Club in Warrawong [hello lake views!] will also be hosting a family-friendly BBQ lunch with face painting, live music and more. Fur kids are even welcome as long as they’re leashed.

So that’s a round-up of some of the great community events we have happening around town on the 26th. If you would like to know more about any of these gatherings or any other wonderful events happening head to our Event Directory for all the info at your fingertips! 

Hannah Castelli Author Bio

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