Australia Day is about a barbecue with mates in the backyard, a couple of cold drinks and a few prawns if you can get your paws on some.

That’s what local firefighter Graham Vincent told the Daily Liberal as he sank his teeth into a bacon and egg roll first thing yesterday morning.

Mr Vincent and a crew from the Dubbo fire brigade were among the 250 lucky early-risers that scored a free Aussie brekkie, courtesy of Dubbo Talbragar Lions Club, to kick off the Australia Day celebrations in Victoria Park.

The Union Jack and Southern Cross combination saw one of its most popular days in Dubbo with the sea of painted faces splashing the red, white and blue around as a token of patriotism.

By the time the formalities were under way at 9.30am more than 300 had turned up for the ‘picnic in the park’, naturalisation of Dubbo’s newest Australian citizens and presentation of Citizen, Young Citizen and Sportsperson of the Year awards.

Dubbo’s Australia Day ambassador and former tennis pro Bob Giltinan hoisted the flag to kick-start the official ceremony and local singer Stacey Woodhouse led the crowd in Advance Australia Fair.

Mayor Allan Smith gave an address on the great qualities of Australian people and the country before seven Dubbo residents were officially granted Australian citizenship.

Dubbo’s top community members were then recognised with Citizen of the Year going to long-time Dubbo volunteer Mary Mathews. Frances Wilson picked up Young Citizen of the Year and Brett Seton was named Sportsperson of the Year for his hockey skill.

Pooka the Clown and a jumping castle were enough to keep the kids occupied while the Dubbo City Band provided ongoing entertainment for all.

This was Michael Ferguson’s first year of co-ordinating Australia Day celebrations and he’s been busy organising the big day Down Under since September last year.

“I think it’s important to celebrate our country, to recognise our culture and how we do things compared to the rest of the world, how lucky we are,” Mr Ferguson said.

The city’s weather turned it on with a sunny but mild 31 degrees and residents were treated to a free splash in the pool after the ceremony.

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