What’s on around Australia on what-ever-you-call-it Day

Whether you call it Survival Day, Invasion Day or Australia Day, thousands of people will attend Indigenous concerts around Australia on January 26, while in some cities the controversial date will be marked with protest rallies.

Here’s a guide to some of the big events planned.



The Yabun Festival is the biggest one-day Indigenous festival in Australia.

Last year 28,000 people attended — a figure organisers are expecting to top this year.

The festival runs from 10am to 7pm on the traditional grounds of the Gadigal people at Victoria Park in Camperdown, Sydney.

Eleven performers will take to the main music stage, including Terra Firma and the Salt Lake Band, traditional dancers from across Australia will perform at the Corroboree ground and up and coming musicians will show what they’ve got at the Young Black and Deadly stage.

Linda Burney, the first Indigenous woman elected to the House of Representatives, will deliver the keynote address in the “Speak Out” tent, where domestic violence is also on the agenda. Actors Aaron Fa’aoso and Luke Carroll will be among the MCs on the day.

The event is free and begins with a smoke ceremony in the Corroboree grounds at 10am and wraps up with The Salt Lake Band on stage at 6.45pm.

The venue will be alcohol and drug free. The festival is in its 15th year.


 At Coffs Harbour on the NSW mid-north coast, the concert line up will be headed by singer-songwriter Emma Donovan and also feature Tasman Keith, Dale Huddleston, Matt Devitt, Dizzy Doolan and the Michael Donovan Band.

The area is home to the Gumbaynggirr, Dunghutti, Biripi and Worimi people. The event is free.



One of Australia’s hottest young Indigenous singer-songwriters, Benny Walker, will be a star attraction at the Belgrave Survival Day concert in Melbourne.

Up to 3,000 people are expected at the free family concert, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary at Borthwick Park in Benson Street.

The concert kicks off at noon and runs until 4.30pm.

Other performers will include The Deans, Jayden Lillyst, Gnarnayarrahe Waitairie, The Djirri Djirri Dancers and the Mullum Mullum Choir and Hip Hop Crew.

There will also be storytelling and activities for the children, bush foods, stalls and other activities such as damper making.

The event is alcohol free. Organisers recommend people catch public transport to the venue as parking is limited.


 In Adelaide, Survival Day activities will begin at 11am on the Semaphore Foreshore.

The day has been organised by the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Kura Yerlo and Port Adelaide Enfield Council. Entry is free.

Performers at the Survival Day concert, which runs until 6.30pm, will include Electric Fields, Big Sexy, Jessica Wishart, Yorke Band and Hannah Yates.

There will also be traditional dance performances, children’s activities, a barbecue, arts and craft stalls and pop up shops. A fireworks display will end the night at 9.30pm.

Alcohol and drugs will not be allowed at the event.



Birak, the Noongar season for December and January when the Moodjar tree flowers bright orange, has lent its name to the January 26 festival in Perth.

In local dreaming it is said that when a Noongar person passes away their spirit enters the tree where they wait for Birak. When the tree flowers, their spirit goes west over Weidjemup (Rottnest Island) to be with their ancestors.

Music, dance, art and food will mark the day which will be held in the Supreme Court Gardens and end with the city’s fireworks display in the evening.

Performers will include Stirling Rangers, Little Tear Drops, Hot Likwid, Doreen Pensio and Band, Phil Walleystack and Delly and Boyd Stokes.

The Wadumbah Dance Group will hold dance workshops and there will also be information sessions feature animals such as snakes, lizards and a dingo.

Entry is free.


 A protest march will set off from the Aboriginal tent embassy in Canberra to Government House. Marchers will gather at 9am and begin marching at 10am.

They plan to deliver a proclamation and declaration to the Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove.

The declaration will declare the British claim of ownership over Australia as false. The proclamation will focus on usurpation as genocide.


 An Invasion Day rally will also be held in Hobart.

A protest march will begin at the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre in Elizabeth Street at 11.20am and make its way to the Tasmanian Parliament House where there will be speeches and entertainment from noon.

TAS wants the date of Australia Day to be changed, saying Australia is the only country which marks its day of invasion as a national celebration.

Wendy Caccetta


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