The trend away from overt displays of national pride continued in Newcastle as people gathered in beaches, parks and backyards to celebrate Australia Day.
The red, white and blue Australian flag bucket hats, temporary tattoos and T-shirts once abundant on January 26 were thin on the ground throughout the city.
Increasing sensitivity over whether the nation should change the date of Australia Day, not to mention prominent Invasion Day rallies in Newcastle and state capitals, appears to have discouraged much of the flag-waving.
Fijian-born former Wallaby and rugby league international Lote Tuqiri, in Newcastle to play in a beach rugby tournament, said he supported shifting the date.
"I'm thankful that I'm in Australia," the 41-year-old said after playing in a celebrity game at the Beach 5s tournament at Nobbys.
"My family immigrated here from Fiji and gave us all an opportunity to be a part of the Australian culture.
"I can see where the indigenous side comes from with everything that's happened to them in the history of this country.
"I'm with the change of date. I'm definitely with that."
He said not everyone in Australia was "on the same song sheet" about moving the national day but hoped indigenous and non-indigenous leaders could reach an agreement.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in Canberra on Tuesday that the date should remain unchanged to recognise a turning point in the continent's history.
"We do it on this day when the course of this land changed forever," he said at a flag-raising and citizenship ceremony on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.
"There is no escaping or cancelling that fact, for better or worse."
Mr Morrison said January 26, the day Captain Arthur Phillip raised the Union Jack and proclaimed British sovereignty in 1788, marked the beginning of modern Australia.
"Our stories since that day have been of sorrow and of joy, of loss and redemption, of failure and of success," he said. "We are now a nation of more than 25 million stories, all important, all unique, and all to be respected."
British colonisation led to massacres, oppression and dispossession of indigenous people from land they had inhabited for more than 60,000 years.
Conservative lobby group Advance Australia paid for the letters "Aus Day" to be written in the sky above Sydney on Tuesday to counter the Invasion Day rally in that city.
Newcastle's low-key celebrations centred on waterside locations as the mercury crept past 35 degrees across much of the city.
A Newcastle council-sponsored food market in Richley Reserve at Blackbutt was virtually deserted at lunchtime, but the Nobbys beach crowd enjoyed the rugby action on the sand and the cooling sea breeze.
The Beach 5s celebrity game featured former Knights Willie Mason, Daniel Abraham and Owen Craigie and Singleton-raised former Wallaby Josh Valentine.
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