A Comprehensive Rundown of the Marches and Events Happening Across Australia on January 26

invasion day survival day events australia january 26 australia day 2023

Welcome to Dig Deeper, a content series allowing you to dive as deep as you like into topics that are underserved in the current media landscape but need and deserve more coverage and attention.

Its purpose is to shed light on important community-based issues facing minority groups. To start with, we’re having honest and open conversations around January 26, the national mood and changing the date.

January 26, our national holiday or ‘Australia Day’, has long been recognised as a poorly chosen date for a celebration.

It marks the date on which Captain Arthur Phillip stepped off his ship in 1788 and raised a British flag on Eora land at Warrane, later to be known as Sydney Cove. It’s a date and a day that will forever be linked to the decades of violence and oppression that were to follow for the Traditional Custodians of this land. Symbolically, it’s a prelude to genocide. That’s not a thought that goes particularly well with a beer and BBQ, if you ask us.

While national and state events will be held celebrating the founding of the nation we live in — despite having nothing to do with this date — events recognising and honouring the past sufferings and the continuing strength of Indigenous culture continue to grow in size and appeal.

These events, and the day itself, are variously referred to as Survival Day, Invasion Day, and Day of Mourning events. If you’re looking to attend one, here’s a list of exactly where and when you can do that.

New South Wales

Dawn Reflection, Eora (Sydney) – Gadigal Land

Start the day in Sydney with a period of reflection as the work of Kamilaroi artist Rhonda Sampson is projected onto the Opera House. From 5.20am to 5.50am, as the sun rises, Sampson’s work will conjure up the history of Tubowgule, the site that the Opera House now stands on. Full details of the project won’t be revealed until the event itself, so you’ll have to get down there to see it for yourself.

Sampson’s artwork also covers the Pemulwuy ferry, which will race later in the day at the Ferrython through Sydney Harbour. Her design, called ‘Warrior Spirit’, pays tribute to the resistance of Bidjigal man, Pemulwuy.

This event is free to attend and can be seen from any location with a good view of the opera house.

WugulOra Morning Ceremony, Eora (Sydney) – Gadigal Land

WugulOra means ‘One Mob’ and this event is an annual and sacred start to January 26. Since 2003, the NSW government has partnered with the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council to host a smoking ceremony, cleansing the way for new beginnings. Talks from Indigenous Elders and leaders will be followed by dances and singing from Indigenous performers and speeches from politicians, including the NSW Premier and the NSW Governor.

The event is free and will be held on the Walumil lawns at Barangaroo Reserve from 7:30am to 8:30am. The event will also be broadcast on ABC TV and iView.

Yabun Festival, Eora (Sydney) – Gadigal Land

The biggest Indigenous Survival/Invasion Day event in Sydney — and arguably the whole country — Yabun is once again taking over Victoria Park near Broadway and Camperdown for a day-long gathering and celebration of First Nations people.

2023 marks 21 years of Yabun, which means ‘music to a beat’ in Gadigal language, and promises to be a fiery showcase of Indigenous talent, performances, and traditional culture.

Yabun is technically a free event to enter but relies on donations from the community, so do come prepared with cash to chip in. If you can’t attend in person, it will also be broadcast on Koori Radio.

Invasion Day March, Eora (Sydney) – Gadigal Land

The annual Invasion Day March, hosted this year by the Fighting in Solidarity Towards Treaties and the Justice for David Dungay Jr organisations, will kick off in Sydney at Belmore Park. The march, which is preceded by speeches, will walk a lap around the CBD before flowing into Victoria Park to join the Yabun Festival.

The event is also free and starts at 9:30am. You can find all the details here.

Community Day, Eora (Sydney) – Gadigal Land

For something a little more low-key, head to the Campbelltown Arts Centre for a ‘community day’, in association with Sydney WorldPride, showcasing the work of Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens.

On display is her survey exhibition, ‘Embracing Shadows’, which explores female identity and racial injustice in Australian culture. There will also be a drop-in workshop for “all ages” and light refreshments provided.

The event is free and runs from 10am – 2pm.

Survival Day Official Afterparty, Eora (Sydney) – Gadigal Land

SCR Events and Redfern Records are hosting a night of RnB, Hip Hip, and Reggae at The Ox on Oxford Street. Featuring “Australia’s number one Aboriginal DJ”, DJ Melly Mel from Wollongong will be spinning tunes from 8pm to 2am.

Pegged as a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, the event invites you to “come and shake a leg with us.”

Tickets are $26.50 online or $25 at the door.

A Night of Blak Power, Eora (Sydney) – Gadigal Land

We Are Warriors, the Indigenous leadership group founded by rapper Nooky, is hosting a night of live music, film, art, dance, and photography at the Powerhouse Museum.

“A celebration of Blak excellence, we’re taking back a day of sorrow and turning it into a day of power and positivity,” WAW has said.

The event is free and kicks off at 5pm. All the info is here.

Invasion Day Bushcare, Wollongong – Dharawal Land

If you feel like spending Jan 26 doing a bit of caring for Country, Gilmore Park Bushcare will be heading out to help the bush in Dharawal Country, western Wollongong. The volunteer group works to restore and revive areas of natural bushland and you can get involved just by rocking up with some suitable attire and a will to help out.

Bushcare will run from 9am through to 11am and all the details are here.

Day of Mourning, Mulubinba (Newcastle) – Awabakal and Worimi Land

This year’s January 26th event in Newcastle will be focussed around spreading the word on the Indigenous Voice to Parliament. There will be a rally and a march, leaving from Customs House to Nobby’s Beach, culminating in a celebration of culture, with live music, dance, and Indigenous rugby games.

The vent is free at starts at 10am. All the info is here.

Australia Day Sunset Cultural Ceremony, Woronora – Dharawal Land

Local Elder Dean Kelly is hosting a sunset Indigenous cultural ceremony to cap off the day’s events in the Sutherland Shire. Elders will be sharing stories alongside traditional dances, music, workshops, art stalls, and other cultural displays.

“Give yourself the opportunity to join us in this important conversation about who we are as people in this country,” Kelly has said.

The event is free and is hosted at the Barnum Barnum Sanctuary and runs from 5pm – 8pm.

GLALC Survival Day, Griffith – Wiradjuri Land

If you’re way out west, Griffith Local Aboriginal Land Council will be hosting Survival Day on Wiradjuri Country. It promises a free BBQ, an Elders tent, an awards ceremony, cultural performances, and market stalls. Plus there’s even a free shuttle bus so you don’t need to worry about getting home.

The event is free and runs from 11am – 5pm. All the details are here.

Bermagui Survival Day, Bermagui – Djiringanj Land

Survival Day in Bermagui is a day for the local community to come together and celebrate the survival and culture of First Nations people. There will be free food, entertainment, and giveaways, alongside rugby league coaching at Dickinson Oval.

The event is free and runs from 11am to 3pm with all the info here.


Melbourne Invasion Day Protest, Naarm (Melbourne) – Wurundjeri Land

Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance are hosting this year’s annual Invasion Day protest in Melbourne. The event will kick off at 11am at Victorian Parliament House, with full details to be announced soon.

The event is free and you can keep updated with it here.

Our Survival Day, Mornington Peninsula – Boonwurrung Land

Our Survival Day is Victoria’s biggest Indigenous Survival Day event and is totally carbon positive. This year promises an all-out showcase of Indigenous talent, with the lineup featuring Mitch Tambo, Dallas Woods, Jalgany, Caution, 2 Lubly, and Fresh Verse. It’s hosted this year by John Berry, Australia’s first Indigenous Mr World competitor.

The day will start with a Welcome to Country and a smoking ceremony and is run by the all-female Our Songlines collective. Traditional food stalls, clothing, homewares, and other Inidgenous-led businesses will be in attendance.

The event is free for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who book in advance, while general admission is $30. It’s held at The Briars in Mount Martha and will run from 12pm – 7pm.

Share the Spirit, Naarm (Melbourne) – Wurundjeri Land

The Sidney Myer Music Bowl will play host to the Share the Spirit community-festival celebrating the survival of First Nations peoples in Australia. This will be the 20th anniversary of Share the Spirit and the theme this year is ‘continuum: those who tell their story in song’. ARIA Award winner Dan Sultan tops the bill and will be supported by a range of excellent Indigenous artists.

The event is free, with the start time TBC.

Belgrave Survival Day, Dandenong Ranges – Wurundjeri Land

Burrinja Cultural Centre are back this year with their 16th annual Survival Day event in the heart of the beautiful Dandenong Ranges. The event, which is back in person after two years of COVID hiatus, is held at Borthwick Park Reserve in Belgrave and will feature Indigenous cultural displays, entertainment, food, drinks, and community organisations.

The event is ticketed and all the information can be found here.

Survival Day Dawn Ceremony, Ballarat – Wadawurrung Land

The City of Ballarat is hosting its fourth annual Survival Day Dawn Ceremony on the shores of Lake Wendouree to make the survival of ongoing traditions and cultures. The Koorie Engagement Action Group will be hosting a smoking ceremony and locals are invited to “come together to learn about and respect our nation’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people’s history”.

The dawn ceremony is a free event and will start at 5:30am at the viewpoint.

Pilk Purriyn Truth Telling, Torquay – Wadawurrung Land

Wadawurrung Traditional Owners are hosting a truth-telling event to start the day on January 26. Pilk Purriyn means “sunrise” in Wadawurrung language and the event will start at 5.30am, running until 7am. There will be a smoking ceremony, traditional dance, music, songs, and coffee on site.

The event is free and happening at Cosy Corner beach.

Invasion Day Swim,  Kertbooruc (Williamstown) – Boonwurrung Land

If ocean swimming is your thing, Williamstown Open Water Swim Coaching is hosting its annual Invasion Day swim and bush tucker breakfast. Participants can choose a 1 or 2 km swim from Williamstown Beach to Jawbone Marine Park and back, which will start with a traditional smoking ceremony. When you get back, johnny cakes, pancakes, and vegan burgers are on offer made with native ingredients.

The event is $27 and you can sign up here.


Invasion Day Rally, Meanjin (Brisbane) – Jagera and Turrbal Land

This year’s annual Invasion Day rally is hosted by the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy and the Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance. The theme for 2023 is Treaty Before Voice, with calls being made for Aboriginal sovereignty over constitutional recognition, feeding into the ongoing debate around the Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

“Join us as we shutdown Brisbane city to remind the city we don’t celebrate genocide,” the organisers have said.

The event is free to attend and will start at 10am in Queens Gardens.

Survival Day Ceremony, Meanjin (Brisbane) – Jagera and Turrbal Land

The Benarrawa Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Solidarity Group will be kicking off their annual Survival Day ceremony at 7:15am and invites all Australians to come and acknowledge the significance of the date.

“On this day we celebrate the survival of the first peoples of this country, especially the people who lived, gathered, raised their families and cared for the waters and lands along the banks of the Brisbane River and Benarrawa,” they write.

The event is free but ticketed and will be held and Graceville Riverside Parklands. All the info can be found here.

Invasion Day ‘We Have Survived’, Maroochydore – Gubbi Gubbi Land

Come and stand in solidarity with First Nations people to mark Invasion Day in the Sunshine Coast. Hosted by leaders from the Sunshine Coast First Nations Community, the annual march kicks off at Federation Square and will walk down to Cotton Tree Park, where speeches will be held.

The event is free and starts at 9am. All the details are here.

Survival Day, Townsville – Bindal and Wulgurukaba Land

Survival Day in Townsville is returning to physical form after being forced online last year. Big Eye Theatre is hosting the events once again, which they describe as a “celebration of people who have reason to showcase and share their art, dance, music, food, and storytelling.” The day will begin with a dawn service and a commemoration followed by a Survival Day walk.

The event is free to attend and kicks off at 7am. All the details are here.

Aboriginal Sovereignty Day, Toowoomba – Jagera, Giabal, and Jarowair Land

Survival Day in Toowoomba starts with a solemn gathering of community to remember and recognise the loss of sovereignty that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have over their ancestral lands.

The event starts at 5am at the picnic point of Tobruk Memorial Drive Park. All the info is here.


Invasion Day Rally, Nipaluna (Hobart) – Palawa Land

This year is all about ‘putiya kanaplila’ or not celebrating on January 26. The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre organise the annual Invasion Day rally in Nipaluna (Hobart) with the aim of progressing action on changing the date of Australia Day. Starting with a march, the event will end at Parliament Lawns with the rally and speeches.

This event is free and will gather at 10:45am for a 10:50 departure. The rally starts at 12 and all the info is here.

Invasion Day Rally, Limilinaturi (Devonport) – Palawa Land

Similar to the above, and also organised by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, the Invasion Day rally in Limilinaturi will give those in the north of the island a chance to make their voices heard on changing the date and reflecting on what January 26 means for Tasmanians.

Also free, the march will start at 11:30am at Tulaminakali Health Service and the rally will be held at Market Square at 12. Event info is here.

Northern Territory

Smoking Ceremony, Garramilla (Darwin) – Larrakia Land

Larrakia leaders will lead the smoking ceremony that opens the rest of the day’s activities in Darwin. Storytelling and cultural dances will accompany the ceremony, with dancers from both the Larrakia People and the Rirratjingu Dancers from North East Arnhem Land.

The event is free and starts at 7:50 am. All the info can be found here.

Western Australia

Birak Concert, Borloo (Perth) – Whadjak Noongar Land

Celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island cultures, the City of Perth’s annual Birak Concert boasts a stellar lineup of Indigenous entertainment. This year’s lineup will start with a Welcome to Country, followed by WA artists Red Ochre Band, Pipeline, and Phil Walleystack. There will also be community arts, markets, and handcrafts, plus food stalls and an obstacle course.

The event is free and will start at the Supreme Court Gardens in Riversdale at 3pm and run until 7:30pm. All the details are here.

Those who can’t attend in person will be able to hear it on Noongar Radio.

Perth Invasion Day, Borloo (Perth) – Whadjak Noongar Land

Local Indigenous leaders Marianna Mackay and Megan Krakouer host the annual protest rally through the streets of the city. It’s unconnected to the above Birak concert but will feature a walk from Forrest Chase shopping centre through to the concert, allowing anyone who wants to attend to line up their activities. Speeches will be given at the start of the rally alongside performances from local artists. This year’s lineup includes Natasha Eldridge, Johnathan Ford of Yonga Solutions, and Pipeline.

The march is free to join and starts at 12pm. Details here.

Flewnt ‘Hell No’ Invasion Day Music Video, Borloo (Perth) – Whadjak Noongar Land

Noongar and Wongi man, activist, and hip-hop artist Joshua Eggington is filming the music video for his upcoming song, “Hell No”. He’s inviting everyone to come down and be a part of the video which he describes as “focused on the protest of Invasion day.”

Filming takes place at Langley Park and will start at 7pm. Event details here.

Rubibi Survival Day, Rubibi (Broome) – Yawuru Land

The “refreshingly air-conditioned” Gimmie Club hosts the annual day of celebration of the continuing survival of Australia’s First Nations people in Broome, filled with family-friendly Indigenous performances from the region’s leading established and emerging artists. Artists from around the Kimberley area are taking the stage in 2023, including Olive Knight, Stella Moon, TheKrui3ers, Lyrical Instinct, and many more.

Festivities kick off at 2:30pm and run until 11pm. Tickets are $25 online and $30 at the door. Head here for all the info.

South Australia

Tindo Utpurndee Sunset Ceremony, Tarntanya (Adelaide) – Kaurna Land

In the lead up to January 26, Burka Elder Karl Winda Telfer will lead a sunset ceremony in Tarntanya Wama (Elder Park) on Wednesday evening to recognise First Nation’s people and their connection to Country. “When you walk in someone else’s country, it is always important to walk softly and respectfully,” the event states.

Entry is free and the ceremony will start at 8pm. All the info is here.

Mourning in the Morning Smoking Ceremony, Tarntanya (Adelaide) – Kaurna Land

Tarntanya Wama (Elder Park) will see Kaurna Elders host a smoking ceremony to begin the day, with everyone welcome to join. There will also be a Welcome to Country, speeches, and performances from the Iwiri Choir and Nancy Bates to acknowledge the significance of the date.

The event is free but bookings are essential. It starts at 7am.

Survival Day March, Tarntanya (Adelaide) – Kaurna Land

Hosted and largely organised by Natasha Wanganeen, lead actress in Rabbit Proof Fence, Adelaide’s annual Survival Day march includes speeches and performances along with a rally to voice support for Indigenous justice.

The event is free and will begin at 12pm at Tarndanyangga Victoria Square. All the details are here.

Aus Lights on the River, Tarntanya (Adelaide) – Kaurna Land

Aus Lights on the River is a full-day celebration and acknowledgement of Indigenous culture that promises to be a real visual treat. It’s all taking place around Tarntanya Wama (Elder Park) and includes illuminations and visual storytelling, giant inflatable native animals, arts and crafts, and a food hut with live music. There is also a Respecting Country Parade that will bring representatives from 60 different nationalities together to pay respect to Country and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land.

The event is free and starts with the smoking ceremony at 7am. All the info is here.

Australian Capital Territory

Sovereignty Day Isabel Coe Memorial Lecture, Canberra – Ngunnawal Land

The annual lecture held in honour of the memory of dedicated Wiradjuri activist Isabel Coe will be held at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy outside Old Parliament House.

Event details are yet to be finalised but all the information can be found here.

Afro Aboriginal Cultural Showcase, Canberra – Ngunnawal Land

A full day of live music, entertainment, and cultural showcase is on offer at the Albert Hall with performances from both Indigenous and African artists and speakers. Both communities are brought together to reflect and celebrate in a “demonstration of togetherness.”

The event kicks off at 12pm and all the info is here.

Australia in Harmonie, Narrabundah – Ngunnawal Land

The Zeppelin Room at the Harmonie German Club is hosting a night of Indigenous and German music with a silent auction of Aboriginal artwork alongside. 100% of the profits from the auction goes towards supporting Indigenous sporting engagements. The lineup includes Sistas in Song, The Riverbank Band, and The Black Sorrows.

The event is free but bookings are essential. Head here for all the details.

Related: Melbourne Votes to Move Australia Day — Should the Rest of the Country Follow Suit?

Related: Why So Many Australians Are Changing Their Minds About Australia Day

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