Australia Day on Sydney Harbour

Australia Day, Friday 26 January 2017

The world’s most beautiful harbour city will be celebrating in style this Australia Day, with a host of activities taking place on the water.

A colourful aquatic spectacle, the 2018 Australia Day Harbour Program brought to you by P&O Cruises and Port Authority will see some of the day’s most symbolic and historic events returning to the water, as well as some new and exciting activities perfect for boaties.

All the action will be streamed live on Fine Music FM102.5, so you can switch on the radio and hear what is going on around you while enjoying Australia Day on Sydney Harbour.


10.45am – Ferrython

Dressed and decorated to the nines, Sydney’s beloved First Fleet ferries line up for one of Australia’s most popular and iconic free events, Sydney Festival’s Ferrython.

Cheer on your favourite ferry as they carve up the harbour and make their final dash to the finishing line under the Harbour Bridge.

Best vantage point: Best not to chase after the ferries, why not watch the finish from Jeffrey St Wharf area, Lavender Bay or Farm Cove?

11.45am to 2pm – Central Harbour Program

Spectator vessel areas off Milsons Point and Lavender Bay will provide the best vantage points for the spectacular program of events taking place in the middle of the harbour between 11.45am and 2pm.

11.45am – Salute to Australia

The 21 Gun Salute will be fired from North Sydney under the bridge at 11:56am and received by the HMAS Canberra
 in Sydney Cove, as Australia’s armed forces combine efforts to pay tribute to this great southern land.

The guns will finish at midday, followed by synchronised choirs at key vantage points who will sing the national anthem in a Salute to Australia, with a Royal Australian Air Force finale. When you hear the anthem, join in with your guests.

Best vantage point: East of the Sydney Opera House or West of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Remember the central harbour exclusion zone is in force from 11.45am – 12.30pm.

12.05pm – Tug and Yacht Ballet

The Tug and Yacht Ballet is a spectacular display of nautical precision as a fleet of ten yachts and two powerful tugboats tack in unison to a musical score that will be heard right across the central harbour area.

Following the Ballet, HMAS Canberra will come out of Circular Quay at 12.15pm and go east to Garden Island.

Best vantage points: East of the Sydney Opera House or west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

From 12.30pm – In the Sky: Red Berets and RAAF

The skies over the harbour will be alive with activity including a squadron of the Red Berets and a fly past by the Royal Australian Air Force.

Best vantage point: Over the eastern part of Sydney Harbour.

12.45pm – Australia Day Harbour Parade

Celebrate with some of Sydney’s most iconic vessels parading around the harbour in a dazzling display of national spirit.

Vessels of all shapes and sizes are welcome to join the flotilla and encouraged to dress their decks with colour and flags.

Head to for more information on how to register and be in the running to win a share of $2000 in cash prizes for the Best Dressed Vessels and get a front row seat for the Salute to Australia.

Approved Harbour Parade vessels will marshal at Jeffrey Street Wharf from 11.45am and depart at 12.45pm. The parade will do a loop of the harbour, finishing at Athol Bay at 2pm for the awards ceremony.

1pm – Tall Ships Race

Starting at Bradleys Head, an impressive fleet of historic vessels will cut their way across the harbour in the Tall Ships Race, to finish under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Best vantage point: From Bradleys Head to the Harbour Bridge on the northern side of Sydney Harbour.

1.30pm – 182nd Australia Day Regatta

In its 182nd year, the Australia Day Regatta is the world’s oldest continuously conducted annual sailing event. More than 100 boats will be racing in Sydney Harbour in events for all classes of yachts and 18ft skiffs.

Best vantage point: Eastern part of Sydney Harbour.

2pm to 5pm – Athol Bay

Athol Bay is the perfect place to anchor, chill out and enjoy Australia Day on the water.

9.15pm – Fireworks

Fireworks display within Sydney cove exclusion zone in place

Best vantage point: Farm Cove, Athol Bay or watch it from shore in the Quay.

Table of events - Australia Day 2018

Time Event Location Exclusion zones
10.45–11.30am Ferrython Sydney Harbour Within 50m of Ferrython ferries, 10.45-11.50am
11.45am Salute to Australia Sydney Harbour between the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge Between the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Kirribilli Point,
12.05pm Tug & Yacht Ballet Sydney Harbour between the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge Between the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Kirribilli Point,
12.45–2pm Australia Day Harbour Parade Sydney Harbour  
1–1.45pm Tall Ships Race Starts Bradleys Head, finishes under Sydney Harbour Bridge All day within 50m of tall ships
1.30pm 182nd Australia Day Regatta Eastern part of Sydney Harbour  
2–2.15pm Red Berets: Australian Army Parachute Display Over Eastern Sydney Harbour In Farm Cove within marked area, 2–2.15pm


All day within 200m of any participating vessel involved in an organised event




All day within 50m of ferries and tall ships.

All day within 50m of P&O Cruise ships.

Map of exclusion zones for Australia Day 2018 - click for a larger version (PDF, 392Kb)
Map of exclusion zones for Australia Day 2018 - click for a larger version (PDF, 392Kb)
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