Matt Cooper: How I'm spending Australia Day

The Illawarra's Australia Day ambassadors have shared their excitement and offered their wisdom ahead of tomorrow's celebrations in Wollongong, Shellharbour and Kiama.

Former NRL Dragons player and Wollongong ambassador Matt Cooper said he was looking forward to starting the Aquathon, racing with the kids and competing in the thong-throwing competition.

"I'm going to have my daughters there going up against everyone, my daughter loves to build sandcastles," he said.

The Illawarra Australia Day guide

"It's one of my favourite days of the year."

Shellharbour's ambassador Dr Timothy Sharp from the Happiness Institute said the words of our national anthem should inspire people to be grateful for Australia.

"The first line is 'Australians all let us rejoice' and there really is a lot for us to rejoice in," he said.

"There's no doubt there are other fantastic places in the world but when you put it together, the quality of life here is hard to beat."

With its spectacular beaches, the Illawarra was a great place to holiday, he said.

"Take the opportunity on Australia Day to be grateful.

"There's no doubt the happiest people spend more time focusing on what they have and less time worrying about what they don't have."

Kiama ambassador and celebrity chef Lyndey Milan said her speech would be about supporting local produce.

"Remember the worst homemade disaster is better than the best shop bought anything, because it's made with love," she said.

We want to know how you're celebrating Australia Day. On Sunday send us your pics for our online gallery. You can upload them through our iPhone app, Facebook page or Twitter (@illawarramerc).

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