Australia Day Brisbane | What’s happening in the city?

A guide to what’s on in Brisbane on Australia Day

Australia Day is one of the biggest days on our nation’s calendar. Not only is it the day that the First Fleet landed in Port Jackson, it’s also a day to celebrate how multicultural our nation has become.

And hey, being a public holiday doesn’t hurt either, amirite?

From fireworks displays to all-nighters at the pub, whatever you have in mind for the day there’s an event out there to cater for it. Check ’em out here.


Image: Australia Day Queensland

Australia Day Brisbane Fireworks

The moment every Brisbanite waits for on Australia Day

No Australia Day celebration is complete without that grand finale of fireworks. Brisbane caps the night off early, sending its light display into the night at 7:30pm–7:40pm along South Bank.

Alternatively, there's also events capped off with fireworks displays on Bribie Island and in Redcliffe. These also begin at 7:30pm.

For more info: Australia Day Queensland

Brisbane's best Australia Day fireworks vantage points:

Fireworks vantage pointsWhat's happening?Food and drink
South Bank Parklands (Main display)No events planned.Alcohol-free event. Bars and restaurants nearby.
River Quay Green (Main display)Events starting from 11am. Live music and pop-up food stalls as part of Great Australian Bites festival.Food and drink for sale in the festival area.
Brennan and Apex Parks (Bribie Island display)Events starting from 7:30am (Fireworks at 7:30pm). Free breakfast, live music by local artists, games and activities.Food for sale.
Suttons Beach (Redcliffe display)Events starting at 2pm (Fireworks at 7:30pm). Live music, performers and garden games.Food for sale.


Shop from Australian stores in the True Blue Sale

With the Triple J Hottest 100 cranking in the background, check out the hottest deals from Australian stores like Surfstitch, Dissh, Sportscraft and more including travel agents, magazines, homewares and so much more.

We've created the True Blue Sale to help support Australian retailers and, naturally, decided this is the best time to do it.

Get access to all of the deals starting from 5pm on 25 January for 48 hours only.

Check out all the deals from the True Blue Sale


Great Australian Bites food festival, South Bank

If you’re tossing up where you should be on Australia Day, South Bank is a no-brainer. The hub of Australia Day activities, it features food stalls, live entertainment and a kid-friendly pool and playground.

In the four days leading up to Australia Day, the Great Australian Bites food festival will also be held in South Bank. In it, four local restaurants set up pop-up stalls for the masses to sample their finest grub. If you’d prefer to BYO, South Bank has plenty of free barbeques available.

For more info: South Bank Brisbane

Image: Visit Moreton Bay

Redcliffe Australia Day festival

For atmosphere, sun and plenty of Australia Day entertainment, Suttons Beach in Redcliffe is a popular spot for families. From 2pm until 8pm, there will be live performances, a lamington-eating contest, sand and water activities, giant beer pong, giant jenga, plenty of giveaways and a hilarious toilet race.

Acts on the musical bill include Juzzie Smith, Little Georgia and Fat Picnic, and a true blue Aussie barbeque will be available on the day. The festival concludes at 7:30pm with the annual fireworks.

For more info: Visit Brisbane


Image: Visit Moreton Bay

Bribie Island Aussie Beach Party

All day long on Australia Day, Brennan and Apex Parks on Bribie Island are set to be hubs of activity and entertainment. That’s from the free (yes, FREE) breakfast at 7:30am right through to the fireworks at 7:30pm.

This big beach bash will feature workshops, beach games, competitions, live music and markets galore.

For more info: Australia Day on Bribie Island


Image: Kookaburra River Queens

Australia Day Brisbane cruises

Searching for the best vantage point to catch the Australia Day fireworks? Try a view from the river.

Turn that exciting public holiday into a marked special occasion by boarding a boat and sailing down the Brisbane River to a backdrop of colourful fireworks. River cruise companies such as Kookaburra River Queens and Brisbane Cruises offer scenic sailings timed to ensure yours is the best seat in the house when the fireworks start. Buffets, live music and costume prizes may be included in your sailing.

Koala & River Cruise - Return cruise with Entry i...
Brisbane Sightseeing Tour and Brisbane River Cruise
Moreton Bay Marine Park Dolphin Cruise Including ...


Australia Day Cockroach Races

Join in this Brisbane institution – no, really!

Avoid the rat race to see the fireworks and opt to spend your day at the pub, beer in hand partaking in this local tradition. For over 35 years Story Bridge Hotel has been hosting its annual “cocky races” where punters can put their little cocky’s legs to the test to try and win the big bucks. Entry is via gold coin donation, which is given to charity.

Live bands and a dunking machine are on site to provide added entertainment and the day begins at 11am with the first race kicking off at midday.

For more info: Cockroach Races


Moonlight Cinema Summer Season

Chill out under the stars at an Australian-inspired Moonlight Cinema sesh.

For a more relaxing Australia Day, book yourself a spot on the green at the Moonlight Cinema.

This summer movie festival does the rounds across Australia this month. On 26 January, it’s going true blue with a screening of Red Dog at its Brisbane outlet in New Farm Park outside Brisbane Powerhouse.

For more info: Moonlight Cinema

Top free things to do on Australia Day in Brisbane

  • Australia Day at Work: This Australia Day initiative encourages workplaces to show their national pride by decorating their offices and hosting morning teas or barbeques in the week leading up to Australia Day. All participants go into the draw to win catering packages.
  • Barbeque at South Bank: Pack a picnic basket or nab a barbeque early at South Bank to spend a day in the city surrounded by the lively atmosphere of Australia Day festivities.
  • Learn about the local heritage at Caboolture Heritage Village: With more than 70 historic buildings, the village is one of the biggest historic sites in the region. On Australia Day there will be cane toad racing, wood chopping and festive food stalls. Admission is $10 for adults. Children under 16 are free.

Are shops open on Australia Day in Brisbane?

Here are the major shopping centres that will open for Australia Day and their trading hours

  • Queen Street Mall: Times vary.
  • Westfield Chermside: Open from 10am-5pm
  • Westfield Carindale: Open from 10am-5pm
  • Westfield Northlakes: Open from 10am-5pm
  • Westfield Garden City: Open from 10am-5pm
  • Westfield Helensvale: Open from 10am-4pm
  • Strathpine Centre: Open from 10am-4pm

You can also spend this public holiday shopping from the comfort of your own home. We're throwing a True Blue Sale, celebrating Australian retailers, were you can save big on your favourite Aussie brands. Check it out here!

Feature image: Australia Day Queensland

Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is the travel editor at finder.com.au. On top of being an avid traveller, she's an all-round bargain hunter. If there's a deal or cheap flight available, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too.

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