2017 Australia Day

It's 35 plus degrees and the flag is flying, the sausages are sizzling, the stumps are set and the backyard pool is lapping with water. It's our national day and it's time to celebrate.

No matter what you do on Australia Day it's important that you do celebrate it your way. For many they'll start the day with an Aussie BBQ breakfast, attending a citizenship ceremony and congratulating our local heroes, others will spend the day playing backyard cricket, watching some tennis, or swimming in rivers and pools. This is what makes our country great.

We acknowledge the first people of this land who have had connection to this country for thousands of years have shared their history and culture and we celebrate their remarkable and ongoing contribution to the story of Australia.

We also recognise the pioneers who built our nation and the servicemen and women who fought and sacrificed their lives so we can enjoy the rights and liberties so many of us take for granted today.

Always remember, in this great land of ours the things that unite us are far greater than those which divide us as a people.

While historically Australia Day marks the arrival of Captain Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet at Sydney Cove, the national story has evolved since then and we recognise the contribution that so many have, as our National Anthem proudly states, come across the seas, to create the welcoming, multicultural and inclusive society we are today.

I offer my congratulations to all those who are bestowed an award in the Australia Day honours, including the nominees and those announced as citizens of the year and welcome all those who pledge their loyalty to Australia and become citizens on this special day.

Whether you're enjoying a BBQ in the Bland Shire, or chilling out on the banks of the Lachlan in Cowra, tubing down the Murrumbidgee or enjoying the entertainment at the Wagga Wagga beach, I hope that everyone in the Riverina and Central West has a happy, safe and enjoyable Australia Day.

Cristy Houghton