It is my great pleasure to officially welcome you to Wingecarribee Shire’s 2016 Australia Day festivities.
I particularly welcome our visitors and hope you enjoy what we unashamedly believe to be the most beautiful part of this wonderful land.
Today we are gathered to celebrate Australia Day – our official National Day. A day in which we all take great pride in being, or becoming, Australian citizens.
The 26th of January is of course the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of 11 convict ships in Sydney Cove under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788.
Importantly, Australia Day is more than just recalling our history.
Australia Day is an opportunity to reflect on our entire national journey which includes acknowledging our past, rejoicing in the present and looking confidently to our future.
Today we celebrate our rich Aboriginal heritage, cultural diversity, unique flora and fauna and a landscape as beautiful as it is varied.
It is little secret that Australia Day holds a special place in the Australian psyche as the entire nation takes time to reflect, relax and of course celebrate.
Today, over 5,000 events have been planned across NSW alone and over half the country’s population will attend either an organised community event such as this, or get together with family and friends with the intention of celebrating our national day.
Yet Australia Day is much more than barbeques and fireworks.
At its core, Australia Day is a day driven by communities, and the unique celebrations of each town, suburb or city are the foundations of its ongoing success.
But Australia Day is also an opportunity for all of us to re-commit to making Australia an even better place for future generations.
Today 18 men, women and children from across the globe will join us as they take the pledge of commitment as a citizen of the Commonwealth of Australia. Thousands more across the nation will take similar oaths.
With this pledge comes the honour of residing in the most special of countries.
A country with great opportunities that are available to all of us as part of our contemporary, diverse, egalitarian and democratic nation.
Join me as we welcome them to our Australian family and share in our bright future.
On behalf of Wingecarribee Shire Council, I extend a warm Australia Day welcome to each and every one of you and encourage you all to ‘Celebrate what’s great’ about this land we call home.
Councillor Larry Whipper
Mayor of Wingecarribee Shire