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What Actually is Australia Day?

If you are a new Aussie backpacker like me, it may come to a surprise to you that there is an ‘Australia Day’. We don’t have an England Day, or a Germany Day… that I know of. So what is Australia Day? I’d never heard of it before in my life.

Well, low and behold, Google came to save the day;

Australia Day is the official National Day of Australia. Celebrated annually on 26 January, it marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales

Sounds simple enough.

In present-day Australia, celebrations reflect the diverse society and landscape of the nation and are marked by community and family events, reflections on Australian history

To find out a little more, I decided to ask my very Australian colleague Jaymie:

“So, what do you actually do on Australia day Jaymie?”

“We usually have a big barbee with lamb, thats the main part – lots of food! Then we have some beers while watching the cricket, there is a test match on Australia day. Even if you aren’t into cricket everybody watches it. People listen to Triple J’s top 100 – but this year it’s on the Saturday after Australia day. Mostly it’s just relaxing with the family, eating lots, drinking lots and going down to the beach!”

So there you go. If you want to celebrate Australia day like a true Aussie – here’s what you have to do:

  • Have a massive Barbee
  • Eat lamb
  • Drink some tinnies
  • Watch the cricket (even if you don’t like it)
  • Listen to Triple J’s top 100
  • Chill with the mates/family
  • Go to the beach

Enjoy your day off people! Whether you’re with some mates, or you’re lucky enough to have family in Australia, have an amazing time – and celebrate like a true Aussie!

Here’s a picture of me trying to embrace the full Australian culture…

Pssst – lucky you, now you know all about Australia day, and you get exclusive access to our awesome Australia day weekend sale before anyone else – woohoo!

Get $100 off all Ultimate Australia Tours this weekend only, in celebration of Australia Day. It’s easy – just use promo code “STRAYADAY” when you book any of our Australia tours online between now and Monday. Enjoy – and see you in the land Down Under.

*$100 off valid from 25-29 January 2018, for the following Ultimate Australia Tours: 

Code only valid for one use. Must travel in 2018. 

Learn to Surf on Your Aussie Gap Year!

About 4 months ago, I had never touched a surfboard in my life. Now, I surf at least two times a week and love it! Learning to surf on your Aussie gap year is a must. Surfing is the perfect hobby to get in to. Not only is it great fun, but you will meet loads of new people, and see lots of incredible beaches! 

Hey! My name is Bernie, I came to Australia 4 months ago on a working holiday visa. I’ve always enjoyed adventure spots (skating, Skiing, BMX) so learning to surf on my Aussie gap-year was a must on my bucket list! I started surfing 2 weeks after arriving in Oz and haven’t stopped since. In all the time I have been surfing, I’ve never seen a shark, just some friendly dolphins! Having the right location, and right support can be crucial when learning to surf. You can just throw yourself in head first (literally!), or you can have some lessons to get yourself kickstarted. Below are four of my favourite spots for learning to surf!

4 Great Beginner Surfing Beaches in or Around Sydney:


7 Mile Beach

Though Gerroa is a couple of hours south of Sydney, 7 mile beach is a great beach to learn on. You have (the clue is in the name) 7 miles of beach to play with, so you can take up as much room as you like splashing around! If you’re lucky, you may even bump into some friendly dolphins while surfing, which is a pretty surreal experience! This is where Surf Camp Australia is based – which is an amazing 2 or 5 night experience. Everything is organised for you: the transport there, accommodation, more food than you could wish for, and surf lessons. Quite literally ‘Surf, eat, sleep, repeat’. If you want to surf on your Aussie gap year, and are keen to get your surfing kickstarted, UltimateOz Surf Camp at 7 mile beach is the way to do it! Check it out here, or email the Ultimate travel crew to get booked in.

Bondi Beach

Bondi is Sydney’s most famous beach, I’m sure you’ve heard of it already! Not only does Bondi have a great atmosphere, but it is fantastic for learning to surf. Rent a board and jump right in, or you can get a few surf lessons to get the ball rolling. Check out our Ultimate Sydney package if you’re keen to kickstart your surfing at Bondi!  

Maroubra Beach

Maroubra is a few beaches south of Bondi, just below Coogee. Well renowned for being a wave magnet, Maroubra is a very popular one with the local surf addicts. Fortunately, it is not quite as popular as Bondi so you should have a little bit more space to do your thing!

Garie Beach

Located in the Royal National Park, Garie beach is just over an hour drive south of Sydney. The drive down there is amazing, with great views of the national park and surrounding nature. Garie is popular with Aussies, so you are bound to bump into some cruisey chaps living in their cars with a surfboard! The beach is pretty quiet even on the busiest of days, so you will be able to have a paddle in the water without worrying about others. And you have over a kilometer of beach to play with!


So there you go, my favourite four beaches in and around Sydney for beginner surfers! There’s no better time to learn to surf than on your Aussie gap year. Just dive in, give it a go and you’ll be having fun in no time. And remember, the best surfer out there is the one having the most fun! 

I haven’t ventured to North Sydney just yet, so apologies if I have missed out any real gems! Let me know down below if there are any good ones I have missed.

P.S. All photos were taken by me – follow @bern_ek on Instagram to keep up with my surfing adventures!