Crowds gathered around Circular Quay to watch some of Australia’s best talent perform iconic tunes and tributes to great hits of the past, along with celebrating accomplished Australians, and recognising and paying respect to the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The night was hosted by Network Ten TV personality Grant Denyer, special guest host Sandra Sully and film and TV actor Luke Carroll.
There was no shortage of Australian music talent, with Anthony Callea, Marcia Hines, Christine Anu, Guy Sebastian, John Paul Young, Casey Donovan, Dami Im and Lorenzo Rositano gracing the stage.
The show opened in the middle of the harbour with a traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples ‘Welcome to country’ – a way of letting you know that you are welcome here on Aboriginal land and extending a hand in friendship as we gather to celebrate country, people, history, and future, while recognising and reflecting on the worlds oldest living culture – Australia’s first nations Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Christine Anu set the tone for the celebrations, opening the show with her hit ‘Party’ setting the tone for the evening.
An overwhelming theme was a constant throughout the night – That wherever you’re from, Australia is a place for opportunity, for freedom, and a place to be able to accomplish your dreams.
After Guy Sebastian belted out his tune ‘Bloodstone’, Grant Denyer asked him ‘What does Australia Day mean to you?’ To which he reflected migrating to Australian as a young child, feeling that Australia has enabled him to lead an incredible life -both personally and professionally- and has allowed for multiple opportunities to represent the country on global arena. Guy is ‘grateful’ for his opportunities and calls himself a ‘proud Aussie’.
We also celebrated 2018 Australian of the Year - Quantum physicist Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons. Speaking to Sandra Sully, Simmons spoke of coming to Australia in 1999 from the United Kingdom, coming to Australia to ‘realise her dream’.
After looking across the world for opportunity, she said she thought “Where is the best place to go, where they are down to earth, they take a risk, they do the hard things, they give things a go’, and they collaborate well – egalitarian Australia – that’s the only place!”
For the first time in 14 years, previous Australian Idol winner and runner-up Casey Donovan and Anthony Callea reunited to perform a duet of ‘Dare To Dream’, dedicated to the upcoming Invictus Games held in Sydney in October.
The incredibly talented Dami Im performed a piano rendition of global hit ‘Chandelier’ written by fellow Australian Sia Furler.
Other highlights included performances by much loved Australian music veterans, Marcia Hines with ‘You’, and John Paul Young hitting out crowd favourite ‘Love Is In The Air’.
The concert finale included a spectacular fireworks display, with the night’s performers joining onstage to sing the Australian National Anthem and crowed sing-along ‘I Am Australian’.