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Family fun focus for Australia Day

From a stirring salute to the Hunter’s frontline health workers to the city’s largest simultaneous pool party, there will be plenty of COVID safe activities to enjoy across Newcastle on 26 January.

City of Newcastle is bringing the Australia Day fun to the suburbs this year, delivering a range of diverse events spread across the Local Government Area that will allow families to enjoy the day closer to home.

Newcastle Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said due to COVID precautions and awareness, localised events across the city provided the ideal way for the community to safely come together.

City of Newcastle’s traditional Australia Day citizenship ceremony, which in the past has been one of the largest in the state, will also become a COVID safe event this year, with the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor holding simultaneous ceremonies via Zoom to allow our newest citizens to make their pledge to Australia in a COVID safe environment.

“Throughout the pandemic, ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our community has been our highest priority,” the Deputy Lord Mayor said.

“Our Australia Day program of events, much like our New Year’s festivities, has been designed to provide opportunities for Novocastrians to get involved in activities within their surrounding neighbourhoods and at some of our city’s most iconic locations.

“Smaller gatherings with dispersed crowds offer a safer way for people to come together and connect on 26 January, whether they’re packing a blanket and heading down to enjoy the produce stalls, food trucks and family-friendly entertainment at Richley Reserve, or cooling off at the city’s largest simultaneous pool party with inflatable fun and roving entertainment.

“Fort Scratchley will also use 26 January to provide a fitting salute to healthcare workers at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, with 24 of those frontline staff given the opportunity to fire the Fort’s historic guns at 1pm.”

Fort Scratchley will offer a day full of activities, with a flag raising accompanied by the stirring sounds of the City of Newcastle RSL Pipe and Drums at 11am followed by the first of three gun firing ceremonies on the day (also at 1pm and 3pm).

Morse code demonstrations and a sausage sizzle hosted by the Lions Club will add to the atmosphere, while visitors are able to explore the Fort’s historic museum exhibition rooms or enjoy a picnic on the grassed headland with spectacular views of the ocean and harbour.

Sports enthusiasts can enjoy the final day’s action of the Beach 5s Rugby Tournament at Nobbys Beach, which showcases an entertaining and fast-paced hybrid game using modified rugby league, rugby union and touch football rules.

The teams-based competition has been hosted in Queensland previously but will have its first showing in Newcastle on 24-26 January, with former professional players Lote Tuqiri, Danny Buderus, Willie Mason and Robbie O’Davis headlining the City of Newcastle-supported event.

Locals looking for other family-friendly options for Australia Day can also check out the current exhibitions on offer at the city’s key cultural facilities including Colour by Questacon and 1x4 at Newcastle Museum and We Can Be Heroes: a backstage pass at Newcastle Art Gallery.

Australia Day celebrations

Food Market 

Richley Reserve 

10am to 4pm

Food-based market stalls, food trucks, roving entertainment, reptile shows and activities for children.

Pool Parties

Beresfield, Mayfield, Stockton and Wallsend pools

10am to 4pm

Activations include inflatables and roving entertainment.

Historical activities

Fort Scratchley

10am – 4pm

City of Newcastle RSL Pipe and Drums performance and flag raising (11am), firing of the Fort guns at 11am, 1pm and 3pm, Lions Club sausage sizzle, museum exhibition rooms, morse code demonstration.

Beach 5s Rugby

Nobbys Beach

24-26 January

Former professional players Lote Tuqiri, Danny Buderus, Willie Mason and Robbie O’Davis will be headlining the Beach 5s Rugby Festival presented City of Newcastle, which will see men’s, women’s and youth teams contest five-a-side sand-based matches based on modified rules of rugby union, rugby league and touch football.

Colour exhibition

Newcastle Museum

10am – 5pm

Engage with more than 20 scientific experiences and see colour as you’ve never seen it before in this exhibition developed by Questacon - the National Science and Technology Centre and presented by Newcastle Museum.

We Can Be Heroes: a backstage pass exhibition

Newcastle Art Gallery

10am – 5pm

Music lovers will be given a backstage pass to some of the biggest bands and gigs in the world through this exhibition, which showcases rarely seen and previously unreleased photographs of Australian and international musicians.

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