Australia Day festivities at Unkya take the cake

The sun smiled upon the large crowd at Unkya today as our valley gathered together to reflect, respect and celebrate what it means to be an Australian.

Kids squealed with delight as they spun on the teacups, and cruised around on the train, their faces painted in colourful splendour, their hands clutching their prized balloon sculptures.

Soaring over the throng of people laden with choice buys from the stalls, and those stuffing their faces with steak sarnies, came the infectious sounds of The Donovans.

At the business end of the day, Mayor Rhonda Hoban appealed to the diverse sea of happy faces to reflect on our good luck - that during a global pandemic we're one of the few peoples able to walk around in the sunshine and enjoy life.

"How fortunate we are to be able to call ourselves Australians," she said.

Three speakers were invited to engage with this year's theme.

Bowraville's Trish Walker spoke about her internal conflict in preparing her speech: how easy it would be to reflect on the injustices of the past and the present for Indigenous people in this country, but how we could also choose to reflect on the progress that has been made, and reflect on the foundations that we must create today for a harmonious future for our children.

As a representative for our valley's youth, Ethan Bullock spoke about his observation of a decline in respect being shown.

"At the same time you can see how happy it makes people when you do treat them with respect," he said.

"And respect is so easy."

And Australia Day Ambassador Sophie Smith encouraged everyone to celebrate the Aussie spirit "which has shone especially brightly during the tragedies of the past 12 months".

For her, being Australian is a celebration of community and a spirit of generosity.

And those sentiments were echoed in the message written to our newest Australian citizens by Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke.

Suzanne Peltonen, Maria Argent, Gabrielle Lane and Theodor Maurer all took the oath of citizenship today in front of a sea of cameras and moist eyes.

To round up the official part of the day's activities, 93-year-old Joan Kervin was invited to come forward and cut the celebratory fruit cake.

Afterwards many eggs were thrown ... in a competition to discern the eggs-pert. No yolk!

But there was no egg on the faces of today's organisers, who can be proud of putting together a very memorable event.

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