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All together now, for Australia Day

Organisers hope singer Anja Nissen will be joined by 23 million people around the country in singing the national anthem on Australia Day. Photo: Daniel MunozA nationwide rendition of the national anthem and an overt display of military muscle are among new features of this year’s Australia Day celebrations.
Nanjing Night Net

Taking centre stage in the salute and amid the flotilla of vessels on Sydney Harbour this year will be the Royal Australian Navy’s newest and largest warship, HMAS Canberra, which will be berthed between the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

Sydney organisers pushed hard to design a moment that will unite all Australians and bring a diverse country together. They have settled upon synchronised choirs around Sydney Harbour that will lead spectators in song before a 21-gun salute as part of a “ceremonial display of respect”.

But perhaps the most ambitious element of the day is the council’s hope that Australians across the nation will down barbecue tools and cold stubbies at noon and stand shoulder to shoulder in song for a mass rendition of Advance Australia Fair, a tradition the council is hoping will catch on.

Australia Day Victoria chairman Stefan Romaniw supported the salute and the singing.

“I think we should be proud. Will everybody do it? Probably not. But we would certainly encourage all those who feel part of the Australian community to do it,” he said.

“We think anything that’s going to promote Australia Day and make people aware is a good thing.

“We’re also saluting all those that have served Australia, all those that make it safe, and all those that protect us.”

Melbourne’s official celebrations will centre around the Town Hall, where the Royal Australian Navy Band and children from the Victorian State School Spectacular will perform, and the Australian flag will be raised.

Once the flag is hoisted, a parade will proceed through Swanston Street and St Kilda Road to celebrate the city’s vibrant multicultural communities.

At the same time, Kings Domain and the Treasury Gardens will be transformed into festival sites, celebrating the traditional Aussie picnic and Aboriginal dance and culture.

At 4.20pm, at the Shrine of Remembrance, a sombre flag lowering ceremony will mark the centenary of World War I.

HMAS Canberra, commissioned in November, is the star vessel in the navy’s relatively modest fleet.

Mr Frangopoulos said: “This is by far the biggest and most ambitious Australia Day we’ve staged.”

Those of us who struggle to remember lyrics beyond the first verse of the anthem’s “joyful strains” might well agree.

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