Council votes to hold Australia Day celebrations over two successive evenings

Australia Day festivities will take place over two successive evenings in the Hawkesbury in 2019 to take advantage of cooler temperatures and better manage council staff’s time.

The inaugural Australia Day on the Hawkesbury event was held on the banks of the river this year, featuring a morning citizenship ceremony and Australia Day awards and afternoon food and drink, games and fireworks.

Celebrations: Diana Fisher and Thodora Werle celebrate Australia Day on the banks of the Hawkesbury River at Governor Phillip Park this year. Picture: Geoff Jones.

Celebrations: Diana Fisher and Thodora Werle celebrate Australia Day on the banks of the Hawkesbury River at Governor Phillip Park this year. Picture: Geoff Jones.

While more than 4,000 people flocked to the afternoon event, the day saw temperatures soar to 43 degrees and some council staff working from 5am to 11pm.

A report to the October 30 council meeting stated there was a community expectation that the 2019 event should be “bigger and better”, however financial and in-kind sponsorship for next year’s celebrations had not been reached.

It proposed holding council’s Australia Day awards and the citizenship ceremony on the evening of January 25 at the central library, with the Australia Day on the Hawkesbury event on the afternoon of Australia Day between 4pm and 9pm at Governor Phillip Park.

It also recommended council approve the transfer of $20,000 from its Banner Program – which pays for poles and promotional flags – to the Australia Day Program to make up the funding.

While Cr Nathan Zamprogno said he supported the separation of venues and “accepted completely” the recommendation, he was concerned about shifting the citizenship ceremony to the evening before Australia Day. 

“If there is a need to use a different venue such as the Windsor Function Centre, let’s do that on the morning of Australia Day and then move everybody and invite them down to Governor Phillip Park or the outdoor venue that we choose for Australia Day celebrations and get it done in one day,” he told the meeting.  “I do … have a problem with moving the citizenship ceremony away from Australia Day proper.”

Deputy Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett told the meeting she didn’t think it was necessary to have an emphasis on that particular day for the citizenship ceremony.

“We have a lovely citizenship ceremony in July, which is no less important or no less meaningful to the people who attend,” she said. “For practical purposes, having it in the cooler evening on the night before is a much better idea.”

A move by Cr Zamprogno to have the citizenship ceremony held on Australia Day was lost, and council will hold both that event and the presentation of the awards on January 25, 2019 at the Hawkesbury Library. Australia Day on the Hawkesbury will be held on January 26 at Governor Phillip Park.