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The National Trust of Australia has unveiled more than 1,000 events to be presented over five weeks for the annual Australian Heritage Festival, the largest and longest-running grassroots festival celebrating Australia’s historic, natural, indigenous and multicultural heritage. 



Conceived already in 1980, the Australian Heritage Festival is Australia’s biggest celebration of culture and heritage and invites people from all over Australia to take part in its dynamic program of over 1,000 events presented across all Australian states from 18 April until 21 May 2017. The Festival is supported by the Australian Government through the National Trust Partnerships Program.

Highlight events presented as part of the Festival include the Urban Polaris biking event exploring historic sites spread throughout Canberra, from forgotten suburban cemeteries to World War I training trenches, an opportunity to ride the 130-year-old Victorian Colonial Express from Castlemaine to Maldon in Victoria, and a two-day celebration of Australia’s multicultural communities in Smithfield NSW.

The Australian Heritage Festival engages people with heritage by uncovering new stories behind local libraries, galleries, theatres, parks, bushland, historic spaces and archives.


The Australian Heritage Festival brings together people all over Australia to tell stories, explore traditions and bring history to life through guided walks, tours, demonstrations and hands-on history experiences for all ages.

 Scott McAlister, Chairman of the Australian Council of National Trusts, said, speaking on behalf of the National Trust.


“The Festival will enliven cities and towns across the country with a call to celebrate what makes their neighbourhoods special in their own unique voice, recognising the many narratives that have shaped Australia. It helps people, families and communities form connections with their local heritage and treasure the places they love,” he continued.


Highlights of the 2017 National Heritage Festival include: 



  •  A Home Away From Home: Stories of Belonging
    Smithfield, 29 April and 20 May 2017
    Gives voice to communities who have significantly contributed to the rise of multicultural clubs. Through food, performance and discussion, examine the contribution that local community members have made, not only to the preservation of language and culture of local communities, but more broadly to the collective memory and history of local, state and national narratives. 
  • Dawn at the Camp
    Cowra, 29 April 2017
    On the site of the Cowra P.O.W. Camp, voices from the four nationalities involved in the breakout event of 1944 and remember the involvement of our Aboriginal soldiers through traditional Aboriginal dance for a truly moving experience.
  • Shack Life Exhibition and Walking Tour
    Gymea – Exhibition, 21 April – 2 May; Walking Tour 23 April
    A group exhibition of artworks by a mix of established artists and members of the shack communities of the Royal National Park, including artists Reg Mombassa, Christa Drysdale, Lucy O'Doherty, Gillian Rys, and Vanessa Edwards. Their work responds to the structure of the shacks, the spirit of the community and the power of the surrounding landscape. The exhibition will be accompanied by a walking tour of the shack community of Little Garie, exploring how shacks at these remote locations were built and maintained by the owners. Hear the stories of how the shacks survived to be listed on the State Heritage Register in 2012.
  • Parramatta Tours
    Parramatta - A Tour of Parramatta’s Government Farm, 13 May; Governor Phillip Walk Parramatta 30 April
    Explore Parramatta’s history with a tour of World Heritage Site Old Government House and Domain, discovering how the Government Farm saved the starving fledgling penal colony, and a walk retracing Governor Arthur Phillip’s footsteps along the banks of the Parramatta River 229 years ago. Hear the story of first contact from the Aboriginal perspective and alk past some of the most significant buildings and heritage sites from colonial NSW.



  •  The Urban Polaris
    Canberra, 29 April 2017
    Bike navigation event takes to the streets with a lively race of teams of two taking in as many heritage sites spread throughout Canberra as they can in seven hours.



  • Night Cemetery Tours of Melbourne General Cemetery
    Melbourne, 21 & 28 April and a full moon tour 13 May
    Visitors are invited to tour the cemetery by night, hearing the stories of some its the famous occupants including Prime Minister Robert Menzies, ill-fated explorers Burke and Wills, legendary billiards player Walter Lindrum, famous Princess Theatre ghost Federici, and Judge Sir Redmond Barry who sentenced Ned Kelly to hang. 
    Altona, 18 May & Frankston 20 May 2017
    Theatre production about the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry in 1881, where the people of the Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve went head-to-head with the Aboriginal Protection Board to be allowed to continue the experiment in self-determination. CORANDERRK recreates the Inquiry in an event which is both great theatre and history.
  • Victorian Colonial Express
    Castlemaine, Every Saturday throughout the festival
    A memorable ride on Victoria's oldest railway carriages, operated especially for the Australian Heritage Festival. Over 130 years old, experience rail travel of the 1880's when these passenger carriages were the latest in speed and comfort.



  • Great Houses of Ipswich
    Ipswich, 13 May 2017
    Three generous property owners will open the doors to their historic and significant homes in Ipswich for a glimpse inside just a few of Ipswich’s great private residences that might otherwise be appreciated by only a few. 
  • Symbolic Sleep Out
    Currumbin, 24 April 2017
    Sleep out under the stars at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on ANZAC Eve for an evening of entertainment, short documentary and interviews with veteran’s current serving personal along with an outdoor cinema showing the feature film Gallipoli. 100% of profits raised from ticket sales goes directly to Veterans’ welfare and the evening will consist of entertainment, short documentary and interviews with veteran’s current serving personal along with an outdoor cinema showing the feature film Gallipoli. 



  • Fanny Balbuk Yooreel Events
    Perth - Tour 23 April; Exhibition 19 April – 18 May; Talk 11 May; Symposium 17 May 2017
    Four events will be held to explore the life of Aboriginal Noongar woman Fanny Balbuk Yooreel who experienced colonisation first hand. A guided walking tour will walk her path, an exhibition of  a new range of superb quilts to recognise her, a presentation on her life, and a symposium uncovering her powerful, emotional story enabling contemporary residents of Perth to see the history of their area in fresh ways.
  • Heritage Bar Walking Tour
    Perth, 26 & 29 April, 3 & 6 May 2017
    Join Oh Hey WA for a guided walking tour exploring Perth's revitalised heritage precincts and thriving small bar scene. This fun and informative tour will help you see the city in a new light, looking not only into the past but also to the exciting future of Perth.


Search for events near you here





The Australian Heritage Festival will run from 18 April until 21 May 2017 in various locations across every state and territory throughout Australia. To find out more about events go to



The National Trusts are Australia’s leading conservation organisations. Their mission, which started with the conservation of historic Sydney architecture, has grown to include natural, Indigenous and cultural heritage in every state and territory. The National Trusts are the only conservation organisations in Australia concerned with all aspects of heritage, natural and cultural, tangible and intangible. It is the pre-eminent independent community bodies that promote conservation of and access to Australia’s unique natural, cultural and Indigenous heritage. Learn more here:


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