Rural NSW town marks Australia Day early

As the people of Wellington joined in the national anthem, singing of being "one and free", the Australian and Aboriginal flags were raised in unison.

The central west NSW town of 4000 marked Australia Day on Wednesday evening, moving away from January 26 ceremonies for the first time.

Dubbo Regional Council said the change recognised the town's Indigenous population and aimed to boost crowd numbers by avoiding the hottest part of the day.

About 300 people turned out for the twilight event in 33C heat, watching as a smoking ceremony moved slowly through the crowd.

Wiradjuri man Jeffrey Amatto was given a community award for his work and leadership as co-founder of drug and alcohol addiction charity Brothers 4 Recovery.

"I want to thank you for changing the date. You're leading the way for so many communities in Australia," Mr Amatto said as he accepted his certificate.

Wellington local Cheryl Ah-See sat on a picnic blanket under the trees at Cameron Park in the centre of town, surrounded by her family.

Ms Ah-See said the change of date was a relief for many in the community, which has overcome tragedy and hardship in recent years.

"People still want to be celebrating being Australian, but not on a day that reflects a lot of trauma for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people," she told AAP.

"We've got a close-knit community. Wellington gets a bad rap but the problems it has are everywhere.

"If we can be one of the first to mark invasion day on a different date, it's going to make us come together even more."

Pam Wells, a Tubba-Gah woman who sits on Dubbo Regional Council, said moving Wellington's events acknowledges that 16 per cent of the region's people are Indigenous.

"It's a good first start. We've got a long journey to be able to share and inform our country of what January 26 means for First Nations people."

The federal government in late December relaxed regulations to allow ceremonies to be held between January 23 and 29.

The Wellington event was planned earlier, adhering to Commonwealth guidelines exempting small citizenship ceremonies from being held on January 26.

Dubbo mayor Mathew Dickerson said the community has long held Indigenous events on Australia Day, but this year was an opportunity for unification.

"Council has the intention of making a day to talk about how wonderful it is to be in this nation," Mr Dickerson told AAP ahead of the event.

"Let's acknowledge the past, and really focus on the future."

The council will seek feedback from Dubbo and Wellington residents before planning the dates for next year's ceremonies.

Mr Dickerson said there were "extremes of views".

"There are times you need to lead your community forward."