GALLERY: Wollongong's Australia Day party

It had all the hallmarks of a great Aussie celebration - sun, surf, sand, smiles and a spectacular fireworks display.

Thousands of people packed the Wollongong foreshore in their obligatory blue, white, and red uniforms on Sunday, celebrating our national holiday with characteristic Aussie flair.

While some were perched with bottoms on eskys, flags tatooed on their cheeks, tucking into a sausage sanga, others were queuing for one of the many carnival rides or sweating it out in a heated bout of shirtless volleyball.

For 13-year-olds Shantelle and Tahnee, who sported newly fashionable Australia Day onsies, it was a chance to take pride in the country they were raised.

‘‘I usually come here every year because it’s good to get out there and celebrate being Australian and support our nationality,’’ Shantelle said.

‘‘It’s loads of fun - we’re looking forward to going on the Shock Wave (carnival ride) and seeing the fireworks later on.’’

For littlies like six-month-old Tyson - who was decked out in Aussie shirt and flag-inspired shorts - it was his introduction to an annual family tradition of donning patriotic clothes and joining mum Melissa and sister Talliyah, 8, for festivities along the foreshore.

With a little luck (and an afternoon nap), the family hoped to stay long enough to catch the 9pm fireworks.

Earlier in the day all eyes were on the sky as crowds at Belmore Basin were treated to two aerobatic air shows by Southern Biplane Adventures.

As far as grand patriotic gestures go, though, it seems Wollongong business Skydive the Beach took the cake flying a giant Australian flag during a special demonstration jump over City Beach.

Fairy Meadow residents Sarah-Jane Wardle and Kate Robinson got into the Aussie spirit by supporting an Illawarra U12 football team fundraiser, then catching a quick game of laser tag.

Both were glad to be able to openly celebrate their country.

‘‘It’s nice to celebrate our history and the land we live in, and it’s always a great day,’’ Ms Wardle said.

‘‘It’s also good to see people get together and enjoy themselves - providing there’s no-one out there getting drunk and ruining it for others.’’

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