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Thousands don swimwear for beers in the sun to mark Australia Day

Thousands of young people defy coronavirus rules and strip off to their swimwear for beers in the sun to mark Australia Day

  • Revellers marked the national holiday by flocking to the beaches where they partied with no social distancing
  • Australia has seen few Covid cases and has gone nine days with zero community transmissions
  • Australia Day is controversial because it marks the day settlers claimed the land from indigenous people
  • Protesters took to the streets to rally against the colonial associations of the public holiday 

Thousands of Australians packed the beaches on Tuesday to celebrate their national day as the revellers made the most of the country’s few Covid cases.

Many flocked to popular hotspots such as Bondi Beach and the Gold Coast where they partied with little social distancing in sight to mark Australia Day.

But many others protested the public holiday, taking to the streets to rally across the country against the day’s colonial associations.

Thousands of Australians packed the beaches on Tuesday to celebrate their national day as the revellers made the most of the country’s Covid success

Many flocked to popular hotspots such as Bondi Beach and the Gold Coast where they partied with little social distancing

Many waved flags to mark the national holiday while others wore Australian bikinis to celebrate the January 26 public holiday

Large groups met up together, donning swimwear as they partied in the heat on the stunning beaches

The popular Bondi Beach was teeming with revellers as temperatures in parts of Sydney soared to 40C

Two women celebrate the national holiday on the back of a boat as temperatures soar on the Gold Coast

Many others protested the public holiday, taking to the streets to rally across the country against the day’s colonial associations

The January 26 holiday marks the date the British fleet sailed into Sydney Harbour in 1788 to start a penal colony, viewing the land as unoccupied despite encountering settlements.

But for many Indigenous Australians, who trace their lineage on the continent back 50,000 years, they view it as ‘Invasion Day’.

Five people were arrested on Tuesday in mostly peaceful protests where demonstrators chanted ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘always was, always will be Aboriginal land’.

For others, the day was a cause for celebration and many donned their swimwear and partied in soaring temperatures on the beaches.

For many, the day was a cause for celebration and many donned their swimwear and partied in soaring temperatures on the beaches

The revellers drank beer and enjoyed barbeques to celebrate Australia Day although the celebrations were more muted than in other years 


Masks and social distancing were a rare sight with Australians enjoying their lack of local virus transmissions

The revellers took to the sea, drinking in the water as they hugged and partied in close proximity, a foreign sight to many under tight Covid restrictions across the world

Police patrol amongst a large crowd in Gordons Bay in Sydney’s East as temperatures soared

Masks and social distancing were a rare sight with Australians enjoying their lack of local virus transmissions

Australia has fared better than most other developed economies in the pandemic, with just under 28,800 total cases and 909 deaths

The January 26 holiday marks the date the British fleet sailed into Sydney Harbour in 1788 to start a penal colony

Masks and social distancing were a rare sight with Australians enjoying their lack of local virus transmissions.

Australia has fared better than most other developed economies in the pandemic, with just under 28,800 total cases and 909 deaths, mostly in Victoria state. 

On Tuesday, the country recorded its ninth consecutive day of zero community transmissions, according to the health ministry.

Around 2,000-3,000 people gathered in Sydney for the protests on Tuesday, according to estimates by the New South Wales police. 

People gathered at a central Sydney park in defiance of police threats of fines and arrests for breaching a 500-person limit on public gatherings, though organisers called off a march through the city that usually follows. 

For many Indigenous Australians, who trace their lineage on the continent back 50,000 years, they view it as ‘Invasion Day’

A Police officer tips out alcohol during a large beach party in Gordons Bay with many meeting up to celebrate the national holiday

Many of the partygoers piled into boats or brought inflatable items as they floated together on the sea while drinking

On Tuesday, the country recorded its ninth consecutive day of zero community transmissions, according to the health ministry


The debate around Australia Day – which was only formally established as a national holiday in 1994 – has grown increasingly heated debate in recent years

Five people were arrested on Tuesday in mostly peaceful protests where demonstrators chanted ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘always was, always will be Aboriginal land’

The handful of arrests were made for breach public conduct rules and scuffling with the police, but the police said most protesters were ‘well-behaved’.

In Melbourne, television footage showed several thousand people marching through the city centre, many wearing T-shirts with the Aboriginal flag, while organisers tried to ensure social distancing rules were observed.

An estimated 10,000 turned out to march through the streets and attendees walked in 100-person groups to comply with coronavirus rules. 

Some waved Aboriginal flags, while others held aloft signs including ‘No Pride in Genocide’ and ‘You are on Stolen Land’.

‘People (are) having barbecues and shrimp on the barbie and celebrating the death and destruction of these people, the oldest continuing living culture in the world,’ The Age reported Indigenous Senator Lidia Thorpe as telling the crowd.

Australians gather around a barbeque on the beach with the country divided on whether the national day should be celebrated

A recent Ipsos poll for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald newspapers showed that 28% of people favoured changing the date of the Australia Day holiday

Many wore Australian flags and took selfies to mark the national holiday in the sun 

In Adelaide, an estimated 4,000 people gathered at a sit-down protest, while in Brisbane the crowd reached 5,000 people.

The celebration of the origins of the modern nation is a time of mourning for Indigenous Australians, who have inhabited the land for 65,000 years and view the arrival of British settlers as the beginning of two centuries of pain and suffering. 

The push to change the date – or even abolish the celebration entirely – remains divisive.

The debate around Australia Day – which was only formally established as a national holiday in 1994 – has grown increasingly heated debate in recent years.

The occasion is staunchly defended by right-wing commentators and retains strong support from the country’s conservative government 

Beachgoers at Gordons Bay (pictured) were reportedly on their best behaviour on Australia Day – despite the huge crowds

A man draped in an Australian flag is pictured celebrating the national holiday on the Gold Coast

A couple fry up some onions over a gas barbecue on the back of a boat as they celebrate Australia Day on the Gold Coast 

A man checks on the meat cooking on a BBQ next to the river at the Nepean River Reserve in Menangle Park on January 26, 2021 in Sydney

Pictured: People celebrating Australia Day in Cronulla, as beach car parks around the city reach capacity

Two woman enter the water in Newcastle as temperatures soar on Australia Day 

Paul Silva, a nephew of Indigenous man David Dungay Jr who died in police custody in 2015, said: ‘They’re out there celebrating this day like it’s a birthday or Christmas.’

He said January 26 was ‘the day when our ancestors were murdered’.

In the capital Canberra, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison attended a flag-raising and citizenship ceremony and told those gathered that January 26 had changed the country forever.

He said: ‘There is no escaping or cancelling that fact. For better and worse, it was the moment where the journey to our modern Australia began.

‘And it is this continuing Australian journey that we recognise today.

Police are pictured grappling with a man during an Invasion Day protest in Melbourne where scenes turned ugly

A man can be seen grappling with police as an officer holds onto a man’s arm at the Invasion Day rally in Hyde Park

Protesters in Melbourne raise their fists in the air as they call for an end to black death in custody

‘Our stories since that day have been of sorrow and of joy, of loss and redemption, of failure and of success.’

Most official events involved formal recognition of the loss and destruction of Indigenous culture and history of dispossession, with speeches by Indigenous elders, smoking ceremonies, welcome to country ceremonies, and traditional dancing.

Aboriginal flags flew from landmark buildings, including Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, while the Opera House was lit up with Indigenous art.

A recent Ipsos poll for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald newspapers showed that 28% of people favoured changing the date of the Australia Day holiday, while nearly 50% opposed. 

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