NEW CITIZENS: Jaco and Patricia Maree with children Elaine, 5, Gustav, 7, and Clarice, 1, at their home at Maclean.
NEW CITIZENS: Jaco and Patricia Maree with children Elaine, 5, Gustav, 7, and Clarice, 1, at their home at Maclean.

Australians unite for a day of fun

By JENNIFER HUXLEY

KANGAROOS, the Sydney Opera House, Vegemite, the Hills Hoist, Uluru, and Triple J's Hottest 100 ? each of these represents something undeniably Australian and with Australia Day falling tomorrow, a celebration of all things 'true blue' is about to begin.

The day, however, is not just about celebrating what we value about Australia ? for some it represents the relinquishment of ties with their countries of origin.

Naturalisation ceremonies will take place throughout the Clarence Valley, and for South African ex-pat Jaco Maree, making the decision to take part was not one he took lightly.

Mr Maree said he and his family had lived in Australia for three years, after political turmoil in their home city of Pretoria made them decide to leave, as it was 'an unsafe environment in which to bring up children'.

"Australia is all at once very similar and very different to Pretoria (in South Africa) where we come from," Mr Maree said.

"Pretoria is also known as the Jacaranda City, there are lots of Africaan street names in the Grafton/Maclean area, and the people here are very accepting.

"On Australia Day we will be enjoying it and I think coming to terms with the serious decision we have made to become naturalised, but it's definitely not a mistake."

nCheck out the Clarence Valley's Australia Day events ? in Grafton, animal lovers should catch the agility dog display and pet show at See Park, keen athletes will like the aquathon in Grafton, live music lovers can groove at the Concert on the Riverbank, and pyromaniacs will love the fireworks spectacular at 8.30pm.

True-blue Aussies should test their arm in the thong-throwing competition at Brushgrove, and have a look at the celebrity swinging spud race and ironman competition at Copmanhurst.

All this activity should work up your appetite, so follow the Australia Day food trail, starting at Copmanhurst or Brushgrove for breakfast and morning tea, Grafton for lunch, and Coutts Crossing or Grafton for a sizzling barbecue dinner.



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