Protests, celebrations mark January 26, 2021

January 26 marks a contentious day for our island nation, with Australians divided over whether it is an occasion to celebrate or to mourn.

On Australia Day 2021, the annual conversation became even more heated, while we also grappled with the realities of the pandemic.

The honours list was read (amid much controversy), new Aussies were sworn in as citizens, flags were raised and socially distanced barbecues were lit around the country.

Australia Day parades were cancelled in NSW and Victoria due to coronavirus fears, but that didn’t keep city dwellers at home.

At dawn, people gathered at Barangaroo Reserve for a smoking ceremony, with artwork by Indigenous artist and Yaegl woman Frances Belle-Parker lighting the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

By 11am, most Sydney beaches had reached capacity as temperatures spiked, prompting warnings from health authorities to maintain social distancing and practise water safety.

In major cities across the country, protesters gathered, with organisers in Sydney working around 11th-hour restrictions to push forward with their plans.

Thousands attended Adelaide’s Survival Day rally in Victoria Square, while crowds marched through Melbourne in…

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