Australia Day! What everyone got down to Down Under

Australia celebrated its 224th birthday today and across the country people took to the streets, to the beaches and to the parks for parties, barbecues and fireworks displays in one of the most eagerly anticipated days of the year.
Here are some of the best things that went on all over Australia today.

 

This 'B-Flop' would probably have won in
Brisbane

Brisbane

Although citizenship ceremonies to welcome new Australians took place across the country, the biggest citizenship ceremony in the country took place in Brisbaine when 3,850 people from 114 countries pledged themselves to Australia at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Across town, a slightly less civilised but infinitely more fun affair got underway with the first annual Bellyflop Competition at the Moorooka Bowls Club took place.

Perth

An unexpected rain storm attempted to dampen the spirits in Perth but didn't succeed as locals took to the streets to watch a magical fireworks display which combined with sheet lightning to create a dramatic display unlike anywhere else.

Rafael Nadal had to produce his best
tennis in Melbourne to beat Roger Federer

Melbourne

Fireworks displays are part and parcel of the proceedings on Australia Day at the Australian Open but this year the flashing lights and loud bangs in the sky could do nothing to deter spectators' attentions from the firework display going down on the court as Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer went to head to head once again in one of sport's greatest ever rivalries.

Nadal had to produce his best tennis to beat the Swiss Maestro and come from a set down as he battled to win 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 6-4. He goes through to await either current world number one and reigning champion Novak Djokovic or Britain's Andy Murray.

Over in the women's draw, the show was no less spectacular as tennis's number one star Maria Sharapova fought past a resilient Petra Kvitova in three sets to reach the final while Belarussian Victoria Azarenka reached her first Grand Slam final after winning a nail biting contest against reigning champion Kim Clijsters.

 

People took the beach in both Sydney and
Adelaide to take part in the thong
competition: not as rude as you think

Sydney

In Sydney Australians gathered at Sydney Harbour, the country's most iconic tourist location, citizens gathered to watch the Australia Day Ferry Race while the Australian Army's 7th Field Regiment provided the soundtrack with a 21 gun-salute at Farm Cove

While the weather may not have been the blazing sunshine many would normally expect in the height of summer, thousands of people still gathered on Bondi Beach to barbecue, drink beers and maybe even take part in the Australian Day thong challenge which isn't nearly as rude as it suggests, especially for a beach famed the world over for its beautiful people and skimpy swimwear.

Instead, hundreds upon of hundreds of people took to the water on giant inflatable thongs (the sandal) in an attempt to break the previous year's record of over 2,000 people.

Adelaide

Over in Adelaide, they also took part in the thong challenge, although with only 500 people they remained sadly some way behind their Sydney rivals.

The reason for their failure however, might simply have been that most people were watching the cricket, too busy engrossed in the nation's favourite sport to venture down the beach with a blow up shoe.

It was worth it too as Australia continued to flatten India in the fourth and final Test match of the series with the tourists not managing to get anywhere near Australia's massive 604-7.

- Dominic Ladden-Powell is Online Editor with the Australian Visa Bureau, an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications for a Working Holiday Visa to Australia.