The tastes and traditions of life Down Under will take center stage at the Tucson Botanical Gardens on Saturday.

The festivities celebrate Australia Day, a national holiday in Australia akin to America's Fourth of July, celebrating the arrival of the first fleet to Sydney Cove in 1788.

"People have no concept of the country," said Matt Welch, a docent at the gardens and director of the Australian Tourism Centre of Tucson.

"People come to me, wanting to go to Sydney, Perth and Darwin in seven days. I have to tell them that's like going from Washington D.C. to L.A. to Wisconsin, and you are losing two days just getting down and back."

Welch is coordinating Saturday's event and will lead an Australia 101 talk for beginners.

There will be a tour of the gardens' Australian plant collection, including its Blue Bush Acacia, Knife-leaf Wattle, its Sago Palm and Red Gum trees.

The event also includes a survey of the folk and indigenous musical traditions of Australia, complete with didgeridoo players, as well as a Vegemite cook-off.

Normally around this time of year Welch would be prepping to drive up to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior, which has held Australian Day events for several years.

If you go

• What: Australia Day celebrations.

• When: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.

• Where: Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

• Tickets: The event is free with admission to the gardens. Admission is $13 with discounts available.

• Details: See a full schedule at