MEN’S WORK: Manning the barbie at the Australia Day Breakfast In the Park at Brunswick Heads are Colin Tarbox, Lloyd Nylund, Mal McPherson and Brian Bullion.
MEN’S WORK: Manning the barbie at the Australia Day Breakfast In the Park at Brunswick Heads are Colin Tarbox, Lloyd Nylund, Mal McPherson and Brian Bullion. Jann Burmester

Aussie spirit shines through on wet weekend

A SUNBURNT country it wasn't, but despite the wet and windy weather, the Australian spirit shone through with hundreds of people turning out to celebrate Australia Day in the Byron Shire.

The wild weather played havoc with many events, but while numbers were down at the Brunswick Heads breakfast in Banner Park, more than 600 people crammed into the housie tent to enjoy sausage sandwiches, champagne and a sing-along led by Tracey Devine.

The Byron Bay Breakfast in the Park attracted a small number of hardy souls.

More than 100 people attended the official ceremony, held at the Ocean Shores Country Club.

"It might be raining outside, but we are going to have a happy Australia Day," said shire mayor Simon Richardson.

Local historical "legend" Frank Mills OAM, delivered the official Australia Day address, talking about the changes to the Byron Shire over the years.

He said the first farmers who came to the area built their homes, established a vegetable garden, planted fruit trees and built a chook pen. "The wheel has turned completely now, as we have farmers markets in New Brighton, Mullumbimby, Bangalow and Byron Bay," Mr Mills said.

Australia Day Ambassador, 17-year-old Paralympian Taylor Corry told the crowd how proud she was to wear the green and gold at the London Paralympics in 2012.

Brunswick Heads Surf Life Saving Club president and tireless community worker, Craig Reid, was named Byron Shire Citizen of the Year.

Mr Reid is the longest continuously serving president in the club's 77-year history.

"This is an exciting day," Mr Reid said.

"The award was not expected, but it's nice to be recognised by my peers.

The Young Citizen of the Year award went to Courtney Bailey, who is president of the Mullumbimby High School Environmental Green Group and is a member of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.

The Senior Sports Person of the Year went to local surfing legend Kieren Perrow of Suffolk Park.

Winner of the 2011 Hawaii Pipeline Masters, Kieren not only competes in the sport, but contributes to the direction of future professionals through being on the board of directors for the Association of Surfing.

Other award recipients included Ela Heiniger as Junior Sportsperson of the Year for her achievements in surf life saving.

Ela holds the Australian Under 15 iron woman champion title.

The Byron Shire Community Event of the Year went to the Ballina to Byron Bay Charity Walk. Florence Watson won Volunteer of the Year.

The Byron Shire also welcomed nine new citizens from the UK, Canada, Italy, Germany and New Zealand.

Nicoli Feliciati was born in Italy, but has called Australia home for seven years.

"I am very excited to be getting my Australian Citizenship today," he said.

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