GALLERY: Action aplenty as Gong's Oz Day revs up

The threat of thunderstorms in the afternoon didn’t dampen people’s enthusiasm for celebrating Australia Day at Belmore Basin.

People began arriving by at least 8am to try to secure one of the best vantage points, which included the wide reach of the trees in Osborne Park overlooking Belmore Basin.

By lunchtime, with the temperature climbing, those who turned up early to pitch their tents and set up their picnic chairs and rugs were sitting pretty.

Others chose to check out the amusement rides in Lang Park, with the screams of apparently terrified riders of the Shock Wave echoing along the coast.

As expected, the Australian flag was everywhere, on caps, T-shirts, singlets, tattoos and also adopted as the by-now obligatory cape.

As well as the fairground rides, there were showbag stalls and an array of food and drink options to choose from.

And, if the food in Lang Park didn’t impress, then a short trip around to Cliff Road yielded another long row of dining options.

The day’s activities kicked off at 8am with the aquathon and went on to include a Rotaract Hospital Bed Run down Marine Drive, which saw contestants working hard in the heat to push a hospital bed a few hundred metres.

Overhead during the day were skydivers and an aerobatics display from a biplane.

There were also bands playing through the day and a special stage for the kids.

The wide range of entertainment brought people from out of the region as well.

Greg and Vicki Booth brought their children, three-year-old Claire and one-year-old Hayden, down from Leumeah in Sydney’s west to enjoy the best festivities Wollongong had to offer.

Mr Booth said he was quite impressed with the day.

"There’s a lot of things for the kids to do," Mr Booth said.

"Certainly more that at Campbelltown. They’ve got something on for Australia Day but they do the same thing every year. This is something different."

He said the family came down at 11.30am and, by about 4pm, they were able find a coveted piece of shade so Claire and Hayden could enjoy an ice-cream cone.

Mr Booth said he’d found out about the Wollongong event through one of the Sydney weekend newspapers.

"They had a list of the top 10 things to do and Wollongong was on that list," he said.

"And then I looked online this morning to check out what was on today.

"It’s really good that it’s all spaced out so well too, it’s not all in one spot."

Like most people, the Booth family was looking forward to staying around for the fireworks at 9pm.

"That depends on how the kids go," Mr Booth admitted. "But the fireworks are the plan." 

Smezana Dedovic, 10, from Wollongong in a giant water balloon.Picture: ROBERT PEET

Smezana Dedovic, 10, from Wollongong in a giant water balloon.Picture: ROBERT PEET

Lining up for the giant slide. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Lining up for the giant slide. Picture: ROBERT PEET

The crowds at Belmore Basin. Picture: ROBERT PEET

The crowds at Belmore Basin. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Action on the dodgem cars. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Action on the dodgem cars. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Crowds enjoying the street performers in Wollongong. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Crowds enjoying the street performers in Wollongong. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Revellers at Lang Park. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Revellers at Lang Park. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Elvis and the Footloose Rockers performing at Wollongong. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Elvis and the Footloose Rockers performing at Wollongong. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Making a splash in Wollongong Harbour. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN

Making a splash in Wollongong Harbour. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN

Wollongong Harbour celebrations. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN

Wollongong Harbour celebrations. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN

Wollongong Harbour festivities. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN

Wollongong Harbour festivities. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN

Sand modelling at Belmore Basin. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN

Sand modelling at Belmore Basin. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN

Making a splash in Wollongong Harbour. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN

Making a splash in Wollongong Harbour. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN

Sand modelling at Belmore Basin. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN

Sand modelling at Belmore Basin. Picture: ADAM MCLEAN

The Thomas and Coffey team in the Illawarra Rotaract Hospital Bed Run. Picture: ROBERT PEET

The Thomas and Coffey team in the Illawarra Rotaract Hospital Bed Run. Picture: ROBERT PEET

The Horizon Credit Union Team in the Illawarra Rotaract Hospital Bed Run. Picture: ROBERT PEET

The Horizon Credit Union Team in the Illawarra Rotaract Hospital Bed Run. Picture: ROBERT PEET

The UOW Mechanical Society in the Illawarra Rotaract Hospital Bed Run. Picture: ROBERT PEET

The UOW Mechanical Society in the Illawarra Rotaract Hospital Bed Run. Picture: ROBERT PEET

The Illawarra Rotaract Hospital Bed Run. Picture: ROBERT PEET

The Illawarra Rotaract Hospital Bed Run. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Winners: Thomas and Coffey team (from left) Blake Preston, Maree Healey, Peter Buckley, Jai Bergin and Viktor Desovski. The team has won the Illawarra Rotaract Hospital Bed Run four years in a row. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Winners: Thomas and Coffey team (from left) Blake Preston, Maree Healey, Peter Buckley, Jai Bergin and Viktor Desovski. The team has won the Illawarra Rotaract Hospital Bed Run four years in a row. Picture: ROBERT PEET