'January 26 is a really difficult day'
MANY of the sunbathers at Main Beach in Byron Bay would be completely unaware that they were basking in the sun just in front of the resting place of the great ancestor Nguthungulli, more commonly known as Julian Rocks.
It is this connection to land and story which makes Survival Day all the more important.
According to local Arakwal Bundjalung woman Delta Kay, the landscape around Byron Bay has strong storylines connected to it, and Survival Day offered the opportunity to come together and learn, celebrate and value a culture that has survived sustained persecution.
"January 26 is a really difficult day," Ms Kay said.
"Every time I wake up on January 26 knowing that I am going to come up here and share our culture, lay our hearts and feelings bare for the second peoples, it's a really difficult day," she said.
"I don't want to make anyone feel guilty.
"I want people to understand and I want people to support the change the date."
More than 200 people turned out at Main Beach to hear Ms Kay speak, as well as Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM who highlighted that democracy stood for people power and governments serving the people they represented.
Ms Kay said her great, great, great grandfather witnessed the first ships landing at Byron Bay when he was a young man and that marking Survival Day now was as important as when it first started 16 years ago.
"Every year we gather here at Main Beach and it is a day of mourning for the local Aboriginal people but it is also a day where we unite with our local Aboriginal groups," she said.
"We educate and raise awareness about what this day truly means as a nation because it is not a day of celebration."
"It is not a day to unite under the Australian song, it is a day we call for a treaty as aboriginal people, it's a day that we ask to change the date so that we can truly unite as a nation to celebrate what it means to be Australian in our multicultural society."
After speeches it was a time to dance and celebrate culture including a traditional fire starting display which drew cheers from the crowd, as well as a group dance for everyone.