Hot air balloons, First Nations Dance: Surprise scenes at Parramatta on Australia Day


AMONG spectacular scenes to watch on Australia Day is the city’s skyline as hot air balloons for the first-time fly over the space above with Mayor Pierre Esber inviting residents to join the celebration of all things Australian.

The spacious grounds of Parramatta Park on Macquarie Street, site of the Old Government House, the oldest in NSW built during the 1820s settlement era, is tipped to be the busiest venue in the city.

It is where locals and visitors will gather for a variety of activities this year highlighted by the First Nations Dance, as well as take-off point for a courageous ride on hot air balloons that the Council is introducing.

The festivities begin on Thursday, January 25 and on the day itself, Mayor Esber will be joined by Australia Day Ambassador, renowned scientist and engineer Veena Sawajhalla, to present Parramatta’s Citizens of the Year Awards followed by the awarding of citizenship to the city’s 120 new residents.

Mayor Esber said these events are “a chance for everyone in our community to reflect and celebrate what unites us, while honouring the heritage of our Dharug and First Nations people.

“It will be a chance for everyone in our community to reflect and celebrate what unites us, while honouring the heritage of our Dharug and First Nations people,” Clr Esber said.

“The First Nations dance, ochre face painting workshops and cultural talks are a few of the traditional activities where families can connect with culture and discover our rich history.” 

The mayor pointed out the significance of recognising the contribution of the Dharug tribe and other First Nations people that settled in Parramatta since the early days, as the Sydney City Council and 17 others cancelled their traditional celebrations to declare the day as “Invasion Day”.

Deputy mayor Patricia Prociv of the Rosehill Ward, said honouring the First Nations people on Australia Day can only be a positive step to “start a broader conversation with the traditional custodians and the broader Parramatta community.”

Clr Prociv said there has never been an attempt from any of the councillors to propose changing the date of Australia Day celebrations in Parramatta, but the councillors agreed “it is a conversation to be had to allow the wider community to learn and understand our Indigenous culture.”

While the festivities are about enjoying delicious food, live music and other fun and family-friendly activities, those interested in science should visit the science workshops and meet the city Australia Day ambassador, Professor Sawajhalla who pioneered the recycling of electronic wastes.

Professor Sahajwalla launched the world’s first e-waste microfactory in 2018 and founded the Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology or SMaRT at the University of New South Wales.

She is a multi-awarded engineer and scientist named as a Centenary Hero in 2019 by the Engineers Australia for her pioneering breakthrough in recycling.

The entertainment begins with the Balloon Glow on Thursday, January 25 from 5pm to 10pm.

A giant illuminated air balloon will light up the sky at 9pm.

Included are live performances of soul and blues musicians as well as children’s amusement rides and workshops. 

On Australia Day morning, the Balloons and Breakfast will be held from 6am to 11am featuring tethered hot air balloon rides, coffee and BBQ breakfast, cultural activities, live music, outdoor games and fun for children. 

The Parramatta Park will be filled with family-friendly entertainment such as Junkyard Beats roving around with drummers, breakdancers and performances.

Take part in one-on-one football shoot outs and games with Active Parramatta, for those wanting actions.

Amusement rides will run on both days, tickets can be purchased at the event.

Entry is free. For program details, visit

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