THE finishing touches are being put on the fun-filled plans for this Sunday’s Australia Day celebrations around Wollongong Harbour.
The annual event kicks off at 8am with the Aquathon, and will conclude with a light show over Belmore Basin at 9pm.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the day is an opportunity to enjoy live music, events and activities.
“This year we’ve got some great activities that’ll deliver some new experiences for those joining in the fun,” he said.
The day will start with citizenship to 90 Wollongong residents in the Town Hall at 10am. At the Harbour, among the activities on offer is the Outback Extravaganza, which features whip cracking, a live sheep shearing demonstration and working dog display, a chainsaw sculpture display, on-road remote controlled model car racing and the annual Gun Battery March and Firing of the Cannons.
The 9pm light show will take place at Belmore Basin with best viewing spots along Brighton Lawn, north along Cliff Road and around Flagstaff Hill.
More than 40 LED search lights will illuminate the Harbour as part of the show. This includes lights on both breakwalls, the jetty and the foreshore.
There will also be multi-coloured lighting creating effects on the old lighthouse and special vapour canons creating signature effects all set to a sound track.
Wollongong City Council has teamed up with Reverse Garbage to bring a loose parts play space to Australia Day. Children are welcome to use different recycled items to build weird and wonderful things. A box and a broom handle might become a ship, or crates and cogs become a robot – all with a sustainable theme. There will be a treasure hunt with kids who identify all the items on the list earning a sustainable steel straw.
Parents and carers will also be able to get into the sustainable spirit in the kids zone with the Boomerang Alliance showing how to make bags using recycled materials.
“Council has a strong sustainability focus and we’re putting it at the forefront of what we do – including our events,” Cr Bradbery said.
“Not only are we encouraging people to bring along their water bottles and use one of the refill stations we will have at different points at the event, we’re also going to have bins for recycling and a giant metal whale frame that people will be encouraged to fill with garbage. This will help to drive home the message that what you throw away can end up in the ocean.”
There will also be a special recycling show targeted at littlies performed by the Jitter Bugs on the main stage in Osborne Park at 1.50pm.
Meanwhile police are reminding the community to start planning their Australia Day events ahead of the national holiday this weekend.
Thousands of visitors and residents are expected to join in celebrations this Australia Day (Sunday January 26) across NSW.
A highly-visible and mobile policing operation will be conducted by general duties officers, with assistance from specialist police, to ensure a safe and secure environment for all attendees.
Operation Commander, Assistant Commissioner Karen Webb APM, said there are many ways for the public to participate in Australia Day events this long weekend.
“Police recognise this has been a very difficult time for the community of New South Wales and we want everyone to have an enjoyable weekend celebrating everything that is great about being Australian,” Assistant Commissioner Webb said.
“Australia Day is an opportunity to reflect on the courage, selflessness and resilience of our country and our people – particularly our strong sense of community in times of crisis.
“In the true Aussie spirit of mateship, we also want to honour and support those who are facing times of hardship and thank those who continue to provide assistance.
“To ensure everyone enjoys the long weekend safely, police will be out in the community focusing on alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour. Anyone acting inappropriately will be dealt with swiftly and face the full force of the law.
“If you’re planning on having a drink, remember the coveted national culture of ‘mateship’ – look after your mates and drink in moderation,” Assistant Commissioner Webb said.
The police operation will extend onto the state’s waterways, with the Marine Area Command providing a highly-visible and mobile presence.
Marine Area Commander, Acting Superintendent Joe Mcnulty, said Australia Day is one of the busiest annual events across coastal and local inland waterways.
With significant maritime traffic expected across the state, skippers are reminded that police will be conducting drug and alcohol testing on the water as well as compliance checks.
“Before heading out on the water, check the vessel is in good working order, ensure all the required safety equipment is on board – most importantly, lifejackets,” A/Supt Mcnulty said.
“And remember, the alcohol limit is 0.05 – just like on land – and with officers conducting random breath tests on the water, it’s safer not to drink at all.
“Drinking alcohol or taking drugs while out on the water can end in tragedy, so look after your friends and family and act responsibly.”
For anyone heading out onto the water, exclusion zones and movement times apply. Visit http://www.maritime.nsw.gov.au/ for further details.
If you are planning to attend an event, remember to check the conditions of entry, especially relating to alcohol-free zones.
Cr Bradbery said, as always, public transport was the best way to get to the Australia Day event at Wollongong.
Those who need to drive should make the most of the Australia Day park and ride that’s available from 12 noon to 11pm at JJ Kelly Park to the south. Or park at North Dalton Park (near the Surf Club) or at the Innovation Campus and use the shuttle pick up on Squires Way. Shuttle services will run approximately every 10 minutes.
Cr Bradbery encouraged everyone to come along and enjoy the community celebration. There would be activities throughout the day for people to watch or participate in. In addition, there will be a special parade at 7pm along Cliff Road featuring representatives from the local Rural Fire Service, as well as NSW Fire & Rescue and the SES. Members from Mt Keira RFS will also be doing a bucket collection for donations throughout the evening.
“Come along and cheer on these local heroes who have done so much for our community, and our neighbours who have been affected by the recent and ongoing bushfires,’’ he said.
During the Wollongong event, organisers will be encouraging the community to donate to the NSW RFS and the NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service [WIRES].
For more information check out Wollongong Council’s website for the full program.
For details about what’s happening in your area and further event-related information, visit the official Australia Day website: http://www.australiaday.com.au/
A comprehensive Australia Day transport guide – with information for travel to and from events from 7am – is available by visiting www.transportnsw.info
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