10 Ways to Celebrate Australia Day in Vancouver

On January 26, experience Australia right here in Vancouver

Credit: Tourism Australia | The Kimberly, Western Australia

Watch some Aussie rules football, order a Bundy or do the Tim Tam slam to celebrate Aussie Day this January 26th

Gather up your mates, grab some beers and get ready to have a bonza time because January 26th is going to be a g’day for Australians living in the Lower Mainland. Australia Day commemorates the date in 1788 that Captain Arthur Phillip’s First Fleet landed at modern-day Sydney and claimed the country for the British Empire. But you don’t have to be from the land Down Under to take part: here are 10 ways you can celebrate like an Aussie in Vancouver.

Grab a Pie from The Aussie Pie Guy

The savoury pie is a staple of the pub menu in Oz, where pastries are about more than just pumpkins and pecans. Matt Fitzhardinge (from Perth in Australia) and his girlfriend Linda Lowery opened the Aussie Pie Guy food truck in 2013 with fellow meat pie-lover Kayleigh Lum. Their classic Aussie pie has a local twist with its chunks of BC beef and Howe Sound Rail Ale from Squamish.

On Australia Day, the Pie Guy will be taking part in the Street Food City III food truck gathering as part of Vancouver’s Dine Out Festival. Head to the Vancouver Art Gallery between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on the 25th and 26th of January to try their Australia Day pie, which may be a kangaroo or even emu special, and stock up on frozen pies to take home for your own celebration.

Watch the Vancouver Cougars Play

Nope, not those sorts of cougars… nor those… these Vancouver Cougars are the city’s very own Aussie Rules football team – and Australia Day is your opportunity to catch a free game of this hybrid sport.

Part soccer, part rugby and played on something like a modified cricket ground, Aussie Rules football is Australia’s most popular sport. The Vancouver Cougars will be playing the ISSC Vancouver Gaelic Team at Montgomery Park in Kerrisdale at 1 p.m. on Saturday January 25th. Cheer them on, try a meat pie on the sidelines and then head downtown to Ceili’s Modern Irish Bar for an Australia Day party starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and include a drink – there will be Aussie beers and ‘Bundy’ Bundaberg Rum from Queensland behind the bar and the traditional Triple J’s Hottest 100 will be playing. Since 1989 Aussies have been voting for their favourite songs every year, which are then played as a countdown on Australia Day.

Credit: iStock

Have a Barbie at Spanish Banks

Don’t joke about throwing some shrimp on the barbie unless you’re willing to fire one up that arvo (for those who don’t speak Aussie, that means “afternoon”) and brave the winter weather for a beach party – and take your budgie smugglers (aka Speedos) if you’re feeling really brave.

Spanish Banks is more of a summer destination for most people, but the Aussies are a hardy mob so head down there with a barbecue picnic and a rugby ball on January 26th to join in the fun. Shrimp is optional: wearing the national colours of green and gold is mandatory.

Tuck into a Kangaroo Wellington at Chill Winston

Of all the places you might expect to tuck into the unofficial national animal of Australia, Gastown probably isn’t high on the list. But Chill Winston’s kangaroo wellington features a serving of Skippy in an antipodean alteration to the traditional pastry-wrapped beef dish, served with a pepper berry demi glace and yam croquette. Executive Chef Derek Bothwell has plans to always feature kangaroo on the menu in some guise, but you’ll need to hop in before April to catch the kangaroo wellington.

In addtion to the wellington, Chef Bothwell has come up with a special Australia Day menu that will be available between January 16th and 27th. Here’s a sneak peek at what the restaurant will be featuring.

Kangaroo Tartare $16
Kangaroo loin, anchovy cream, fried capers, quail egg, caper aioli

BBQ Prawns $17
Shell-on Pacific prawns grilled, pickled beets, grilled pineapple, harrissa

Crocodile Paella $21
House-made chorizo, crocodile shoulder, prawns, blistered peppers, saffron rice

Cheesecake $8
Chocolate/mocha cheesecake, wattle seed custard

Party Like an Aussie

Finding an Aussie who doesn’t like a drink is as rare as finding rocking horse dung, and come Australia Day there are quite a few places you can head for a cold stubby to celebrate the Australian cricket team winning The Ashes.

Head to Six Acres in Gastown to try Cooper’s Sparkling Ale, or check out one of the lively parties happening on January 25th and 26th at Mount Pleasant’s Anza Club, the Beaver Bar in the SameSun hostel on Granville or Moose’s Down Under Bar & Grill on Pender Street.

On the 25th, the Beaver Bar and Moose’s will both be live streaming the Triple J’s Hottest 100 countdown and your best bet for a truly patriotic party is to head to Moose’s basement on Sunday starting at 3 p.m. for music, ‘roo burgers and parmies (chicken parmigiano). If you can’t make it on Australia Day, stop by for a stubby on a rugby or cricket game day for a taste of life Down Under Pender Street.

Step into Australian Boot Company

Talk the talk and walk the walkabout on Australia Day – step into the Australian Boot Company on Kitsilano’s West 4th Avenue to check out the largest selection of Blundstone (blundies) and RW Williams boots to be found outside of Oz. Since the mid-90s, The Australian Boot Company has been putting their best foot forward in representing Aussie brands such as UGG boots and Glerups felt shoes. Look out for bonza (in other words, good) Australia Day deals.

Credit: flickr/wka

Hit the Slopes in Whistler

It’s not called Whistralia for nothing. Each year the Canadian flags at the Roundhouse Lodge on top of Whistler Mountain are switched for the stars of the Aussie emblem and the slopes are full of expats wrapped in capes made of Australian flags… and sometimes not much else.

The Longhorn Saloon & Grill is the focus of the fun at the bottom of the Whistler and Blackcomb gondolas – celebrations start early in the morning and continue for most of the weekend. Bring a flag, leave your modesty at home and celebrate with the Aussies in Whistralia.

Credit: Geraint James

Boggle a Barista with a Flat White and Pick Up a Bundy

Slightly less foamy than our usual morning lattes, this Australian-style drink is a short wet latte known as a flat white. Some baristas might look boggled if you ask for it, but try Wicked Café, Revolver, Dose or Nelson the Seagull to get your flat white fix.

Head to 49th Parallel on Main Street for a flat white and pick up a ‘Bundy’ while you’re there – the café is one of the only places in Canada where you can get a Bundaberg soda and taste the artisanal root beers from Queensland.

Credit: Arnott's

Do the Tim Tam Slam

You’ve got your flat white… now you need something to dip in it. Head to London Drugs or Real Canadian Superstore and pick up a packet of Arnott’s Tim Tams. The biscuit of choice for most Australians features chocolate cream filling that is sandwiched between two malted cookies and then covered in more chocolate. For the true experience of the Tim Tam Slam, you must bite off both ends of the biscuit and suck your coffee through it. But be quick – you need to pop the whole thing in your mouth before it disintegrates.

Throw Your Own Australia Day Party

There’s way more to Australian cuisine than kangaroo steaks and beer: the vineyards of Oz are producing exceptional wines and Aussie chefs are creating sophisticated dishes that echo our West Coast love of fresh, local and seasonal ingredients.

Canada-dwelling but Australian-born chef John Placko has represented his country at the Culinary Olympics and the prestigious Bocuse d’Or competition in France – he’s also created a special menu of wine-paired appies for your Australia Day party.

Crank up Triple J’s Hottest 100 and serve up this feast alongside Australian wines that are on special this month at BC Liquor Stores. Start with a traditional Australian ‘Oysters Kilpatrick’. Combine cooked bacon, Worcestershire Sauce and oysters and then bake them in the oven and pair with Evans & Tate Metricup Road Margaret River Chardonnay 2012 ($19.99).

Give your grilled cheese sandwich a gourmet makeover by using a spread of Vegemite (made from brewer’s yeast extract, vegetables and spices) to add a umami element and then pair it with a glass of Wakefield Clare Valley Shiraz 2010 ($22.99).

Impress your guests with mini lamb sliders made of ground lamb, garlic, rosemary and parsley, accompanied by a relish of cucumber, mint, yogurt and garlic. A glass of Thorn-Clark Barossa Shotfire Quartage Red Blend 2009 ($26.99) is the perfect wine to say cheers mate on Australia Day.