Australian, Aboriginal flags to fly in Sydney
The Aboriginal and Australian flags will fly together for the first time on the Sydney Harbour Bridge as Australia prepares to celebrate its national day.
The beers are on ice, the barbecues have been scrubbed and 3800 immigrants are preparing to become newly-minted Australians as NSW kicks off its Australia Day celebrations.
Sydney began the festivities early on Saturday morning as the Australian and Aboriginal flags were raised high above the Harbour Bridge — the first time the two banners have flown together on Australia Day.
Revellers began bagging the best spots in parks and reserves around the city, with eskies full of ice cold drinks, portable barbies and plenty of snags.
Sydneysider Doreen Carter was with her family in Hyde Park at 8.30am (AEDT) and planned to spend the day enjoying the free entertainment.
‘‘It’s one of the few days, other than Christmas, where we get the whole family together and just concentrate on enjoying ourselves,’’ she told AAP.
Thousands of people are expected to flood into the CBD to witness free shows, including The Wiggles unveiling their new line-up at Hyde Park.
Indigenous artist Jessica Mauboy is scheduled to perform on a floating stage in Sydney Harbour, off Blues Point Reserve and Athol Bay.
There’s also free entertainment around The Rocks area, Bicentennial Park at Sydney Olympic Park and Darling Harbour.
Sydney’s celebrations will culminate with a fireworks display over Cockle Bay at 9pm.The latest weather forecasts indicate parts of the state, including Sydney, may experience late rain showers.
About 2000 police are being deployed across the state as part of an operation to ensure Australia Day runs smoothly.
‘‘Australia Day is about celebrating everything that is great about our country and we will make sure everyone is able to have a good time with their family and mates and enjoy the festivities,’’ Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell said.
Australian Medical Association president Associate Professor Brian Owler urged motorists to slow down.‘‘This Australia Day long weekend don’t rush and choose wisely on the roads,’’ he said in a statement.
About 3800 people are taking part in citizenship ceremonies in NSW — either taking a pledge or affirmation to confirm their new commitment to Australia.
NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Victor Dominello, said the occasion was a symbol of reconciliation and "an opportunity for people to reflect on the importance of the Aboriginal culture to all Australians".