Australia Day is upon us 

The Australia Day long weekend is almost upon us. Barbecue and sausage sales are through the roof and people are already scouting out their beachside spots for the day. All of Byron Bay’s tours and Byron Bay’s beer are both already in full swing due to the holiday season.

With Australians now more aware than ever of the impact this day had and still has on the Aboriginal people, more and more are seeing it as just another public holiday; an excuse to get outdoors for a picnic or a barbie. For the same reason, some people have opted out of completely, but for those who are still getting out there in the sun, here are some places you may want to consider for your day out.


Australia Day – what it means to us

The significance of this date is that on this day, in 1788, the first fleet of ships carrying convicts arrived in Australia to settle as a penal colony. In doing so, the life of the Indigenous people of Australia was changed forever, through a chain of events which has had lasting effects. With more and more people feeling uncomfortable celebrating Australia Day, the debate rages on about whether we should change the date. But for now, let’s put that debate to the side and explore some ways to enjoy the day in the beautiful Northern Rivers.


The great outdoors


Lake Ainsworth

Located in the beautiful town of Lennox Head, Lake Ainsworth is a tea tree lake that is one of the most popular Australia day spots in the Northern Rivers. Be sure to get here early as people can start arriving as early as 6 am. There is ample shade for those who want to escape the heat and there are a few barbecues dotted near the shoreline for all your snag-cooking needs. Families do come here but you will also find many young, rowdy adults around too.

Tweed River

Idyllic picnic areas and small beaches run along the Tweed River and have become increasingly popular for Australia Day celebrations year on year. With venues like Ancora Bakery nearby, if you’ve missed out on a barbie, you can drop by here for a delicious breakfast or lunch – just make sure you try one of their desserts in their cake fridge. Incredible. There is also a bridge nearby that kids love to jump off. And if you walk just a little bit deeper into the Anchorage Islands, you will find many hidden gems perfect for a secluded picnic.


Avoid the crowds

It’s true, it’s almost impossible to find a venue that isn’t busier than usual on Australia Day. The best option would be to avoid the main tourist locations like Byron and the Gold Coast. But if you’re really dedicated and a little bit organised you can even book out a private venue. This way you don’t have to worry about the crowds and can fully enjoy your day.

Why not go on a Brookies Gin tour or a Stone and Wood brewery tour, all of which you can do on our Full Barrel trip. With a private transfer to each location, you’ll get to sit back with some mates and take in the countryside whilst getting to sample some of Australia’s best craft beer and spirits.



Brunswick Pub

The most famous beer garden in NSW. Even Sydney-siders know about Brunswick’s beer garden and will often come here to escape the hectic Sydney lifestyle. Large open spaces, live music and they even just got their own beer brewed especially for the pub! Despite the big crowds the pub will draw on Australia Day, the beer garden is big enough so you won’t feel like you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with the next table.

Don’t forget to pack your SUP board or kayak – just across the road from the pub, you have the Brunswick River. A perfect family spot for a swim, bbq and another great bridge to jump off. There are also plenty of facilities available for public use. Although it may be busy, there will no doubt be fewer crowds than Byron.

A glimpse of the famous beer garden at the Aperol opening

Eltham Pub

Imagine if you combined a classic English pub with a quintessential Aussie pub and placed it in the rolling hills of Eltham. This is the pub you’d get. Perhaps even more widely known than Brunswick, people come from far and wide to come and sip on a cold beer and a hot meal in a peaceful setting. Albeit, that peace may be hard to find on Australia Day, but the cold beer and the hot meals will be in plentiful supply.

Behind the stylish taps of the Eltham

Shaws Bay Hotel Ballina

For a more traditional, beachside option, you can’t go past the Shawsy in Ballina. Connecting right onto Shaw’s Bay, think beach volleyball, crystal clear water and a beer garden that rivals that of Brunswick. I can’t stress enough that the pub literally connects onto the bay. It’s fantastic. Perfect for kids and adults alike, The Shawsy is an ideal Aussie Day location.

The Shawsy’s beer garden rolls directly onto the sand

Triple J’s Hottest 100

A huge part of Australia Day has always been to get together with a group of friends and listen to the hottest 100, no matter where you are. But another large reflection in the change-the-date debate had been the move of the annual Triple J ‘Hottest 100’ music countdown from Australia Day to the fourth Saturday of January. The change was made in 2018 and will continue this year with the hottest 100 countdown being held on Saturday the 25th – the day before Australia Day.


More than the celebration

Whilst you are enjoying your day out in the sun, just be mindful that most places in the Northern Rivers are still in a total fire ban so be mindful of this and respect those who have lost so much and won’t be able to enjoy the long weekend in the same way. Also be mindful that most town centres, such as Byron, are alcohol-free zones so keep your drinking to licensed venues – or just come on one of our tours!


Our thoughts are with all people and animals who have lost their homes