GALLERY: Australia Day celebrations

THOUSANDS of Hunter residents have embraced this year’s Australia Day theme of ‘‘Thankyou Australia’’ at activities around the region.

The green and gold and Aussie flags were ubiquitous at events at Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Raymond Terrace, Nelson Bay, Maitland and Cessnock.

Find out the people who were named Australia Day Citizens of the Year here.

More than 40,000 people lined Newcastle foreshore for the annual celebrations this morning which this year included a tug boat ballet, appearances by an aquatic mermaid, the harbour swim, a boat building display and ski championships.

At the Maritime Centre celebrations were combined with the National Maritime Festival where events included a yacht club race-off, Ducks for Dollars and free port tour.

Revellers were also thankful for the weather, which was a warm but tolerable 28 degrees in Newcastle and mid-thirties further west until a wet change about 2pm.

Maritime Festival event manager Erica Townsend said Newcastle crowds were up on 2012.

In Port Stephens national pride was on display at festivities in both Nelson Bay and Raymond Terrace.

Indigenous dance was combined with a thong-throwing cricket game at Raymond Terrace before a raft race and RAAF fly past rounded out the program.

Further north in Nelson Bay bush poetry and sheep shearing demonstrations paid homage to Australia’s folk traditions.

Port Stephens Council communications and marketing co-ordinator Emma Shanks said residents gave thanks at Raymond Terrace by writing why they were thankful to be Australian on a Post-It and sticking it on a map of Australia.

‘‘Lots of Aussie spirit around today,’’ she said.

More than 200 migrants were thankful to become Australian Citizens at citizenship ceremonies around the region.

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