Australia Day 2020 in Port Stephens | photos

The Australian spirit and banding together in times of suffering and adversity were themes of talks during the Port Stephens Australia Day events on Sunday.

Opening the official civic ceremony proceedings in Raymond Terrace on Sunday morning after a Welcome to Country by Worimi elder Neville Lilley, Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer spoke about Australians near and far helping each other through the devastating bushfires.

"Today is a day for community, it's a day to celebrate diversity, it's a day for celebrating everyone," Cr Palmer said.

"We've all seen the devastation across Australia from the bushfires... One thing we have seen is that Australian spirit and those who can help have been helping. It's very Australian when somebody's down, we get beside them and help them back up and that is what we've done with the bushfires."

Councillor Sarah Smith with Port Stephens Australia Day Ambassador Ron Delezio.

Councillor Sarah Smith with Port Stephens Australia Day Ambassador Ron Delezio.

Being strong in the face of adversity was a strong theme in the address given by Port Stephens Australia Day Ambassador Ron Delezio in Raymond Terrace and Nelson Bay.

Mr Delezio is the co-founder of Day of Difference Foundation, which helps critically injured children and their families.

He and wife Carolyn established the fund-raising foundation in 2004 after their daughter Sophie fought for her life in hospital.

In December 2003, Sophie, then 2 years old, was badly injured and received burns to 85 per cent of her body when a car crashed into her childcare centre in Sydney.

In May 2006, Sophie was again badly injured when she was struck by a car while crossing the road.

Relating his personal experiences to the current bushfire crisis, Mr Delezio said it was uplifting to know that people "like you and me will stand behind and do whatever's needed for our fellow Australians".

"Fire is an awful thing to be burned by. I just can't image what's going on now with friends and family of people in hospital," he said.

"But I realise how lucky we are to be here in Australia. The Anzac spirit that we learnt about in school has come to fruition. We're all here as one people to support the people in need just like the Anzacs did in the war."

The passing of two former councillors in the last 12 months - Shirley O'Brien and Geoff Dingle - was acknowledged during Sunday's civic ceremony.

"On behalf of Port Stephens Council I want to express the sadness of their passing and pay our respects to these two upstanding members in our community," Cr Palmer said.

Mark Miller and the canoe made by former councillor Geoff Dingle on display in Raymond Terrace on Australia Day.

Mark Miller and the canoe made by former councillor Geoff Dingle on display in Raymond Terrace on Australia Day.

A Canadian cold mould canoe built by Mr Dingle and Barry Usher in 1972 and 1973 was displayed in Riverside Park during the Australia Day activities by its current owner, Mark Miller.

Following the citizenship ceremony, where 28 people became naturalised Australians, the winners of the 2019 Port Stephens Annual Awards were announced.

Huge crowds gathered for the popular Australia Day festivities staged at Nelson Bay's Fly Point on Sunday.

The celebrations kicked off with the Australia Day parade featuring classic and vintage cars and bikes, with a special appearance from the Rural Fire Service and NSW Fire and Rescue trucks.

The Hunter School off Performance Arts marching band put on a dazzling display before the dancers took over.

They were followed by the 'Salute to Australia' flag raising ceremony and formal presentations.

A RAAF F/A-18 Hornet flew past Raymond Terrace and Nelson Bay's events. It is the last year that the Hornets will be involved in Australia Day activities. They will be phased out this year and replaced by the F35 Lightning.

Celebrating in Port Stephens? Send us your Australia Day photos. Email photos to or send them to the Port Stephens Examiner Facebook page.

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