Australia Day is one of the most fun days on our calendar. It might mean something different for a lot of people, but for most Australians it’s all about having a good time under the warm summer sun with friends and celebrating everything that makes it the best country on the planet.
So if you’re holding Australia Day festivities at your place, you may be running a little short of ideas. Never fear, we’ve put our corked thinking hat on and given you a complete guide to hosting an Australia Day barbecue.
Australia Day History
Australia Day is our country’s national day and officially (and some believe controversially) happens annually on 26 January as it marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales. Though very few get out their Union Jacks to mimic that day’s raising of the Flag of Great Britain at Sydney Cove by Governor Arthur Phillip. It’s now purely a celebration of the great life Australia provides for people from all over the world in what is one of the most diverse cultures on earth.
While we might complain about a day of flying to get to London now, that famous fleet of 11 ships took some nine months to reach Sydney. The First Fleet left on 13 May 1787 to what was then dubbed by the Brit’s as New Holland. Under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip there was plans to establish a penal colony at Botany Bay which had been explored and claimed by Lieutenant James Cook almost two decades earlier in 1770. The Poms were extra determined for a new nation after it lost the eastern side of what is now the United States of America in the famous American Revolution war.
Australia Day Theming
Now there are two options when it comes to Australia Day theming: the patriotic red, white and blue or the sporting green and yellow. Flags are a must and this can include the standard Australian flag as well as the indigenous flag or for the real bogan look there’s the boxing kangaroo and any other flag branding that’s unmistakably Australian like Holden, Victoria Bitter or your favourite footy team.
Now Australia isn’t without it’s unique flora and faunae. So if you can get your hands on some native flowers like wattle or even gumtree branches, those with artistic instincts can give the place a real bush feel. Australian animals are easy to find in soft toy form at most souvenir shops.
Lastly, you’re going to need to keep those beverages from going warm in people’s palms under that hot summer sun. Be sure to hand out stubbie holders. These can be purchased cheap as chips at your local discount stores and often with Australian theming. They also make for a great keepsake for guests. For those drinking wines, some little decorations for wine glasses matching your colour theming are also a good idea.
Australia Day Clothing
So what route will you go down with the dress code for your Australia Day party? Smack bang in the middle of summer, we’re going to assume suits and blazers are off the table. It’s damn unAustralian to expect anyone to wear clothing below the knees and elbows. Celebrate that beautiful Aussie life with a little flesh on show people! Pool-equipped houses call for board shorts and singlets which double over as perfect cricket attire come afternoon. Shoes too have to be optional. Thongs can be classy too you know. Meanwhile there a few clichés that need to be on the banned list: corked hats, flags as capes and sandals with socks.
You may even want to go a little more specific with your Australian clothing theme with things like Australian music, sport or celebrity dress ups. It’s pretty easy for guests. A blonde mullet for example could be John Farnham, Warwick Capper or Jason Donovan. A headband could be Jimmy Barnes, Lleyton Hewitt or Olivia Newton-John. The opportunities are endless when it comes to iconic Australians you can dress up as. Just be sure to give guests plenty of notice. That mullet wig could be a perfect stocking stuffer for Christmas, so lock it in by early December!
Cooling down on Australia Day
If you don’t have a body of water to cool off in on Australia Day, it could be a struggle as more often than not the temperatures in Sydney are in the 30s. Or higher. If you don’t have a pool or a beach/lake/creek/dam nearby then you make your own! Do you own a ute? Then you’ve got a pool! A bit of tarpaulin and a hose and Bob’s ya bloody uncle, there’s your pool! Chuck a bit of ice in there and you’ve got a supersized Esky for the drinks as well! Or if a ute isn’t available, kiddie pools also make for great body and beverage coolers as well and are very affordable. Not quite as uniquely Australian, but they’ll do the job.
On a more serious note, don’t be caught out being without air conditioning or at least a few fans. Nothing kills the vibe of a party like every bloke with wet stinking armpits and the women passing out from heat exhaustion. Nobody wants to be standing in the sun all day either. Be sure to have plenty of shade available. Your red-headed friend with skin that looks like Camembert cheese isn’t going to be pleased when he goes home looking like a freshly cooked crab.
Australia Day Drinks
Australia is one of the best makers of beer and wine in the world and you’ve got to stack the fridge and eskies with our local products. Let’s face it, a lot of people wouldn’t use our Victoria Bitter and Tooheys New to put out a fire let alone drink it. Think outside the square and help out your hipster guests with some variety from James Squire, Yenda or Matilda Bay. Oh and if you’re planning on drinking Foster’s, then it’s safe to say you’re not actually an Australian.
The same rule applies for the wines. Coolabah casks might have been cool swinging from the Hills Hoist when you were “18 years old”, but you’re not going to serve it with lunch. Save it for later that night when everyone is too sloshed to tell you’ve stopped serving them De Bortoli.
It should almost go without saying that you must have a very strong supply of ice for Australia Day. Hint: stock up with several bags from the servo the night before to eliminate the risk of missing out. Having a luke warm beer might be okay for your mate from London who came over here seven years ago and still complains about the humidity. But Aussies like their drinks so cold their hand goes numb from holding it (see above regarding stubbie holders to avoid this problem).
Australia Day Backyard Cricket
On the first Tuesday of November, Australians pretend to know about horse racing. On Boxing Day, Australians pretend to know about yachts. And on Australia Day, every man, woman and child needs to have a cricket bat in their hands at least once. Whether it’s a bit of French cricket to help the uncoordinated one in the family that spent most of his morning looking into the screen of his iPad. Or at the other end of the scale, the family is divided into two teams and nanna gets the notepad out to keep score. For the latter, ensure that a suitable pitch is available. If it’s not, wheel the Esky and take the family down to the local park to find one.
A healthy supply of tennis balls and electrical tape for wrapping seams needs to be bought the day before. As for the rules, if you’re going to suggest “one hand one bounce” you might as well go inside and turn on the PlayStation instead. If you can’t get someone out, tape up one side of the ball with half a roll of tape. Even the second coming of Sir Donald Bradman would struggle to handle that swinging tenno. If a batsman isn’t drinking his beer (placed behind the stumps) between balls, it’s an instant dismissal. LBWs don’t count in backyard cricket unless you hit them flush on the foot. Stumps don’t have to be official size. An Esky lid or rubbish bin make for great wickets.
Australia Day Music
A playlist for the entire day is very easily made as Aussie music is filled with 50-plus years of bangers. We are lucky to have some amazing world famous musicians who kicked off their careers in Australia like AC/DC, INXS, Kylie Minogue and the Bee Gees. Save the anthems for a little later in the evening when the light is low and everyone is in a great mood.
These tracks are essential:
You’re the Voice by John Farnham
Khe Sanh by Cold Chisel
Horses by Daryl Braithwaite
Land Down Under by Men at Work
Run to Paradise by Choirboys
Am I Ever Going to See Your Face again by the Angels
Never Tear Us Apart by INXS
Long Way to the Top by AC/DC
During the day, the playlist can be packed with some of our greatest pop stars such as Savage Garden, Human Nature, Tina Arena and Delta Goodrem. Or you can go really old school and play some Billy Thorpe, Easybeats and Little River Band.
There really is a plethora of Aussie music to blast on Australia Day. Sing it loud and sing it proud.
Breakfast starts with a bowl of Weet-Bix and Vegemite on toast which should provide enough energy to get to lunch. The first food usually to be brought out is the fresh cold prawns. Many a yarn is told as hands are picking apart Australia’s favourite crustacean. The dipping sauce, otherwise known as tomato sauce mixed with mayonnaise, can be accompanied by some bread rolls with butter.
Before too long, that smell of a flaming barbeque sizzling an army sized feast is all part of the essential Australia Day. Whether it’s steak, pork, lamb or sangas, meat eaters are in heaven when it comes to Australia Day celebrations. On the side, apart from tomato sauce, a fresh salad is a must. While for dessert a Pavlova is perfect.
Watching the cricket/tennis
A television set must be near the party to show either the Australian cricket team playing their traditional day-night match or the Australian Open tennis. The cricket generally starts around 2pm Sydney time and many an expert comes out of their shell. The tennis usually gives us a good match come prime time. Potentially an Australian hero like Sam Stosur will be playing on the blue court to really get the patriotism firing.
This Australia Day week, MaZi will again be offering some delicious dinky die Aussie specials as well as Australian theming and fun. To book a table in MaZi, call our friendly Reception team on 8037 8200.