Strewth! It's Australia Day in the Botanic Garden

16 January 2009

Despite our occasional bouts of parochial banter, Australia and New Zealand are the best of friends, and each year Aussie tourists make a vital contribution to our local economy. To acknowledge this, next Monday 26 January from 12 noon to 2.00pm, Wellington will join our neighbours from across the ditch to celebrate Australia Day in the Botanic Garden's Australian Garden.

The free event will feature plenty of 'true blue' Aussie entertainment including a performance from folk musician Col Wright, a presentation from eco-artist Heidi Threlfo and of course the traditional throwing of the prawns onto the barbie. Participants will also be welcome to bring eskies and drink Australian beer - but must not make galahs of themselves.

The Australian Garden will provide a fitting backdrop for the celebrations. It features a fascinating cross-section of Australian trees and shrubs - including eucalypts, banksias, bottlebrushes and little purple daisies.

According to Positively Wellington Tourism Chief Executive David Perks, Australians account for a third of our international visitors and pour about $150 million into the Wellington economy each year.

"Our Australian neighbours are the cornerstone of our international visitor market so it's great to recognise that and give those visiting Wellington the opportunity to celebrate their national day while they're here."

Mayor Kerry Prendergast, who will open the celebration, says it's also important to acknowledge the contribution that expat Australians make to our city.

"We're very fortunate to have so many Australians living in Wellington doing wonderful things for our city and this event is a great way to recognise that."

Councillor John Morrison adds that the event will also be an opportunity to put a smile back on the faces of the Aussies in town.

"They've not had a fair suck of the sav in the past year. We'll be very hospitable - there'll be no mention of the South African cricket team or the Rugby League World Cup."