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Barbeques, Beaches, and Brand Experiences: All in a Typical Australia Day

Barbeques, Beaches, and Brand Experiences: All in a Typical Australia Day

Face-to-face interaction is key to this summer celebration

Written By: Adele Symonds and Emma Channon

Next up in our cultural blog series, we’re taking a look at Australia Day — a celebration that falls on January 26th  and marks the date back in 1788 that Captain Arthur Phillip landed in Sydney and claimed Australia as part of the British Empire.

We spoke to Adele Symonds, General Manager Marketing ANZPAC at The Freeman Company Staging Connections, which has offices throughout Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, as well as Emma Channon, who is an Australian-born journalist at UK-based publication Meetings & Incentive Travel, about how Aussies celebrate the occasion. 

Q. What’s the purpose of Australia Day?

Adele: In modern times, Australia Day celebrates the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic diversity of the country. This is important because for many years the event was not a celebration for the indigenous population but a day of mourning that their country had been claimed by the British. It’s a time for Australians to come together to celebrate what's great about the country, and being Australian.

Emma: Australia Day is a day of mixed feelings for me. On the one hand, I am so proud and excited to celebrate our way of life and heritage alongside other Aussies and people across the world. On the other, Australia Day celebrates a date that is often recognised as the birth of our nation. Obviously, the Aboriginal story goes way beyond that and I hope over time that story is told more.

Q. How do Australians tend to celebrate the big day?

E: Events are the cornerstone to Australia Day celebrations, given we all like to celebrate together. Most pubs and restaurants will hold special Australia Day get-togethers and parties, while there are a lot of informal picnics in parks, beaches and backyard pools. My hometown puts on an Australia day cricket carnival – a fundraiser but mostly an excuse for the players to be able to drink while playing cricket!

People tend to listen to the government-funded radio station Triple J, as they play a special Australia Day countdown of the top 100 songs from the year before; a list that is put together based on votes from listeners. Triple J supports home-grown bands and artists and so the list is predominantly Australian music, which is pretty cool. 

Since moving to London I have seen just how much the rest of the world celebrates the day – or maybe it’s a sign of how many Aussie expats there are – as when it comes to events to attend, I am never short of options!

A: There are many festivals, community events and ceremonies on Australia Day, including citizenship ceremonies each year. There are civic events with addresses from the Governor-General and the Prime Minister marking the day including the presentation of the Australian of the Year Awards.

Culturally significant events include a ‘Welcome to Country’, a ceremony performed by Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people who welcome visitors to their traditional land. It can take many forms, depending on the particular culture of the traditional owners. It can include singing, dancing, smoking ceremonies or a speech in a traditional language or English.

As January is Australia’s summer time, many Australians head to the beach, have barbeques, get together with their family, gather with friends, or attend free festivals, firework displays and outdoor events. There’s even a ferry race in Sydney Harbour!

We’re also working on a few Australia Day events – one of the main ones is held in the capital city, Canberra. We’ll be contributing AV services to the production of a live event broadcast around the country involving the Governor-General and the Prime Minister for the flag raising ceremony and citizenship presentations. There will also be an impressive flyover and 21-gun salute.

Q: Are there any trends you’re noticing in terms of the way different brands are opting to celebrate the occasion?

A: There are a range of ways brands mark Australia Day. Some will simply post messages on their social media channels, meanwhile others like to have more of an impact on the celebrations. P&O Cruises bring four of the world’s most impressive cruise ships — Pacific Aria, Pacific Eden, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl — to Sydney Harbour, meanwhile Brazilian footwear company, Havaianas host an annual ‘Thong Challenge’. At this brand activation thousands of Aussies at beaches around the country join forces in an attempt to set a new record for the longest line of giant inflatable flip-fops in the water.

Qantas, our national air carrier flies their flagship A380 airbus over Sydney Harbour. Because the celebration of this date is controversial due to its historical origins, the trend for brands is often a conservative celebration. The most recent Qantas fly-over however celebrated their new partnership with Emirates in spectacular style where the two airlines flew craft side-by-side over Sydney to celebrate the start of their new alliance.

Another noteworthy annual initiative is by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), who produce a TV ad that encourages Aussies to eat lamb. This year’s instalment celebrates our nation's humour and diversity.  

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