PIONEER Park shone with sunshine and spirit on Saturday as hundreds flocked in to celebrate what it means to be Australian.
Beginning with a barbecue breakfast, revellers young and old donned their Akubras, plastered on temporary tattoos and snatched up Aussie flags to make the most of Australia Day.
The festivities kicked off with an address from mayor John Dal Broi, followed by the official citizenship ceremony where 46 new Australians were welcomed into the country.
Australia Day ambassador Gretel Killeen, on her first visit to Griffith, was impressed to find such a “sudden oasis” in the outback.
Ms Killeen began her career “accidentally” as a stand-up comedian, then moved on to voice-overs, writing comedy for radio and eventually TV.
She is best known for her stint as Big Brother host from 2001 to 2007, but has also written 30 books, written and directed a film – which will be released later this year – and performed vital humanitarian work as a good will ambassador.
With the theme of the day being “thank you”, Ms Killeen said she had a lot to be thankful for.
“There is a unique attitude to life in Australia, there’s something special about living here,” Ms Killeen said.
“There is a kindness and a generosity of spirit, a willingness to help and understand.
“I thank Griffith for being so wacky and welcoming – there are some big hearts here.”
Nine local groups and individuals were honoured for sports awards and Australia Day awards, including young citizen of the year, community event of the year, citizen of the year and the 2012 local hero.
The Griffith City Band and Sing Australia Choir performed the national anthem and wrapped up the ceremony with a moving rendition of I Am Australian.
The celebrations ended with a morning tea provided by Soroptimist International Griffith.
- Citizen of the year: Olga Forner
- Young citizen of the year: Elise Delpiano
- Community event of the year: Griffith Multicultural Festival