FLAGS and thongs will fly on Saturday as the Hunter bathes itself in blue, red and white to celebrate Australia Day.
Celebrations will dot the region’s parks, waterfronts and backyards as sausages sizzle on barbecues and glasses are raised in a national toast.
Police have warned revellers not to drink to excess in honour of the occasion, with 300 officers charged with ensuring celebrations do not turn ugly.
Acting Newcastle police chief Dean Olsen said underage drinkers in particular were in their sights and he called on parents to be vigilant to ensure a family-friendly day.
The National Maritime Festival is expected to draw thousands to Newcastle Harbour to celebrate the region’s seafaring heritage. Other key events include a tug boat ballet, ferry tours and the cross-harbour swim.
The day will also mark a milestone for the Fort Scratchley Historical Society, which will fire the site’s newly forged replica field gun for the first time, barring its test fire yesterday.
President Frank Carter said the gun was made locally.
The group hoped for approval to fire the traditional 1pm gun throughout the year.
The field gun will be fired at 11am, 1pm and 3pm on Australia Day.
Citizenship ceremonies will add a multicultural flavour around the region, with expatriates from dozens of countries officially becoming Australians during ceremonies at Newcastle City Hall, Raymond Terrace, Cessnock, Maitland and Boolaroo.
And while many of the region’s pools will have free or reduced entry costs, forecast showers may ruin many plans for a sun-kissed Australia Day.
The Bureau of Meteorology predicted showers for Newcastle on a 27-degree day, with late rain expected in most other parts of the Hunter.
Newcastle City Council lifeguards have issued a dangerous surf alert, urging beachgoers to take care and follow directions near the shoreline.
‘‘We are expecting large seas from Saturday and strong winds, which will create dangerous surf conditions along the beaches over the long weekend,’’ the alert said.
‘‘Children, fisherman and rock fisherman in particular should exercise caution.’’
The Herald wants to see how you've celebrated Australia Day. Fairfax Regional Media is calling for readers across the country to record a snapshot of our great nation. Show your Aussie pride by using Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #AustraliaDay and the name of your town to tell us why you love Australia.