Wollongong's Australia Day will this year feature a special tribute to the emergency services workers involved in the bushfire crisis.
A parade, featuring representatives from the local Rural Fire Service, as well as NSW Fire Rescue and the SES, has been added to the long list of events taking part on Sunday at Wollongong Harbour
Mount Keira RFS captain Andrew O'Hanlon, whose brigade will be doing a bucket collection for donations throughout the evening, said the parade was a fitting part of Australia Day this year.
"These fires have just been catastrophic... and there have been so many fires in so many areas at the same time," he said, noting all 23 brigades in the Illawarra had had volunteers out.
"There are 1290 RFS volunteers in the Illawarra, so it's a big network, and then you include the SES and all the paid workers. We have all been out there working side by side.
"And there's also 1200 families of volunteer firefighters in the Illawarra - so it's also recognition for all those families."
"I think, this year, there's nothing more Australian than a parade of emergency services workers."
Mr O'Hanlon encouraged people to donate to the bucket collection on the day, but also said they could "support us by having a fire plan and making sure your house is prepared".
Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said Australia Day was a way for the community to come together and "find a new normal" after the devastating festive season.
"Come along and cheer on these local heroes who have done so much for our community, and our neighbours who have been affected by the recent and ongoing bushfires,'' he said.
The parade will begin at 7pm along Cliff Road.
Australia Day events start at 8am with the Aquathon, and will conclude with a light show at 9pm.
The council says the best viewing spots will be along Brighton Lawn, north along Cliff Road and around Flagstaff Hill. More than 40 LED search lights on both breakwalls, the jetty and the foreshore will illuminate the harbour.
"We'll also have multi-coloured lighting creating effects on the old lighthouse and special vapour canons creating signature effects all set to a soundtrack," the council said.
Reuse and recycling 'as Aussie as the outback' at Wollongong event
There'll be no shortage of typically Aussie activities at Wollongong's Australia Day.
Giant inflatable thong races, an "outback extravaganza", Holden cars... and a big focus on the environment.
Among the dozens of activities, designed to be enjoyed by kids and adults, long-running Marrickville charity Reverse Garbage will be creating a "loose parts play space" in Osborne Park.
Creative director Kirsten Junor said the recent drought and bushfires had emphasised how vital it was to make sustainability part of the Australian way of life.
"Reverse Garbage has been going for 46 years, but the conversation has now really started changing," she said.
"These horrible months with the bushfires has heightened it even more, and that conversation is happening out in the public domain from early childhood onwards."
"Having said that, I think Australia has a rich tradition of reuse and tinkering - and the sustainable use of the land and man made things - that might have got lost in all that 1980s capitalism," she said.
"That's from traditional owners through to the modern day - we have had to be creative because we are so far away from the rest of the world. We have amazing resources in the land and produced resources, and we have to learn how to manage them better."
At the Reverse Garbage play space, kids will be able to use different recycled items to build "weird and wonderful things". There will also be a treasure hunt with kids who identify all the items on the list earning a sustainable steel straw.
Parents and carers will also be able to get into the sustainable spirit with the Boomerang Alliance showing how to make bags using recycled materials.
"Council has a strong sustainability focus and we're putting it at the forefront of what we do - including our events,'' Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said.
"Not only are we encouraging people to bring along their water bottles and use one of the refill stations..., we're also going to have bins for recycling and a giant metal whale frame that people will be encouraged to fill with garbage. This will help to drive home the message that what you throw away can end up in the ocean.''
Due to parking and access limitations, public transport is the best way to get to the event.
Those driving should use the "park and ride" available from noon to 11pm at JJ Kelly Park. Or park at North Dalton Park (near the Surf Club) or at the Innovation Campus and use the shuttle pick up on Squires Way.