WELCOME to 2018! There are many ways to start off the New Year. Some people start the year nursing a massive hangover. Still others face the New Year full of enthusiasm with a handful of resolutions they try hard not to break.
For a group of more than 300 Aboriginal people who gather annually in Yamba, the New Year began with uplifting gospel music, Christian fellowship and celebrating the glory of God.
The week-long event held at Ngaru Village, Pippi Beach, started on New Year's Day with a dinner celebration.
Many people including family groups, travelling from a range of locations including Moree, Tamworth, Woodenbong, Canberra and Sydney, started to arrive on New Year's Eve.
Some participants stayed on site in the temporary sleeping quarters at the community hall, while others stayed with relatives or friends or in commercial accommodation.
This event was begun by respected Yaegl elder, the late Aunty Della Walker, 37 years ago.
The event was so successful that on Aunty Della's passing, her niece Diane Randall and her sister Lillian Williams, through the AriseShine Ministry Church, continue to organise it.
Diane and Aunty Lillian are helped by their church pastor Craig Fraser and congregation member Neville Vesper Jnr and many other volunteers.
Each day began with a communal breakfast. Participants were then free to do their own thing until the evening meal.
Echoing the words of Aunty Della, Diane said the timetable allowed participants "to enjoy my beautiful country and experience what Yamba has to offer”.
Many people therefore, did the tourist thing - visit beaches, swim, fish and sightsee.
Others spent the days relaxing and catching up with family and friends.
Each night though, everyone joined in and spent time in prayer and worship at the daily church service.
The Wednesday night was particularly special because a concert allowed participants to perform their favourite gospel songs or hymns.
On Sunday it was time for the visitors to head off home after a week of spiritual fulfilment and for the organisers to reflect on the successful gathering.
The AriseShine Ministry Church is now looking forward to the 2018 gathering. Should you wish to make a donation to this event contact Diane Randall on 0477 902 570.