PropTalk contributor Craig Ligibel sent us this story all the way from Australia while visiting family. 

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Australia Day. Photos by Craig Ligibel

It may not be Baltimore’s Inner Harbor or Annapolis’ Ego Alley, but Sydney’s Circular Quay knows how to throw a party to respect the past and celebrate the future.

When British Naval officer Captain Arthur Phillips unfurled the Union Jack in what is today Australia’s Sydney Harbor, he laid claim to a 3.3 million square mile continent stretching 2500 miles from east to west and populated by an existing population of indigenous peoples who had lived virtually undisturbed for 65,000 years. Captain Phillip’s action is arguably the biggest land grab in history… an annexation of local lands that today reverberates from Aussie coast to coast either as a date to celebrate the cornerstone of one of the world’s great nations or, as supporters of the Australian Indigenous peoples population call it, “Invasion Day, Survival Day and Day of Mourning.”

In 1935, all states and territories agreed to celebrate Australia Day together, observing a public holiday on the Monday closest to January 26.

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Australia Day is celebrated on the Monday closest to January 26. 

For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Australia Day isn’t a day for celebrating. While First Nations people may be just as proud of this country as non-Indigenous Australians, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people see Australia Day as a date signifying the beginning of colonial violence; the destruction of kinship, cultures, histories, and languages; and the dismantling of First Nations societies caused by colonizers’ actions and government policies.

In an effort to bring Australians of all heritages together under one banner, the Australian government has themed Australia Day 2024 Reflect, Respect, and Celebrate.

More than half of all Australians participated in Australia Day events organized by state governments, local councils, community groups, or getting together with family and friends. In addition, over 20,000 new Australians became citizens on Australia Day.

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Boaters celebrating on the water. 

This year, Australia Day in Sydney started with a reflective moment to honor the nation’s Traditional Custodians as the sun rose over Sydney Harbour on Gadigal land.

The 2024 Dawn Reflection artwork showcased on the sails of the Sydney Opera House, titled Trailblazers, honored four significant First Nations heroes who once shaped the landscape around Sydney Cove (Warrane) during the 18th century. The digital artwork was produced by Aboriginal artist Brett Leavy.

Once the sun was up, thousands of celebrants lined the foreshores of Sydney Harbor and were treated to a number of entertaining events including a ferry boat race that pitted four 1000-ton ferries in a colorful 5k race down the Harbor; a parade of historically significant vessels; a flyby conducted by the Royal Australian Air Force's aerobatic display team the Roulettes, and a civilian fleet of hundreds of sea faring partygoers sharing good times and good food and drink with old and new friends in a rolling beach party that stretched from Cockatoo Island out to the Harbor’s North and South heads.

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Craig Ligibel (rught) with son-in-law Bodhi Lewis. 

PropTalk’s roving journo Craig Ligibel captured some of the action from the deck of the Police Boat Nemesis that led the Harborside parade festivities. His attendance was by special invitation of the New South Wales Premier. Special thanks to son-in-law Bohdi Lewis who works for the state in their tourism department. Ligibel and Lewis are pictured prior to boarding the Nemesis.

For more photos, visit Craig's SmugMug photo album

Story and Photos by Craig Ligibel