NSW's Aust Day 'difficult' following fires

Dominica Sanda and Ash Witoslawski
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BARANGAROO WELCOME TO COUNTRY

The impact of bushfires on NSW and upon Aboriginal people has been recognised this Australia Day

Sydneysiders have this Australia Day been reminded of the devastating impacts the bushfires have had not only on NSW communities but on the land and the First Nations people.

NSW Governor Margaret Beazley used her Australia Day address at Sydney's harbourside morning ceremony in Barangaroo to reflect on the "catastrophic" blazes across the state.

"Sadly overshadowing everything at the moment, particularly on the eastern seaboard, is the catastrophic impact of the bushfires on the land and those who do walk on the land," she said.

During the Australia Day Live show at Darling Harbour on Sunday night, images of Rural Fire Brigade and emergency service personnel and communities affected by the bushfire crisis were projected onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

Thousands packed into Circular Quay to watch the show headlined by Vanessa Amorosi and John Williams which included images being projected onto the Opera House for the first time during Australia Day celebrations.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Australia Day this year comes during a "difficult time" as the state comes to terms with the impact of the devastating fires, the lives lost and the impact on wildlife and the land.

The premier called for renewed public discussion about how the ancient knowledge of Aboriginal people can be used to better protect the environment and communities.

"These devastating bushfires encourage us as a community to reflect on Aboriginal practices that sustained this land for millennia," she said.

Australia Day marks the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships into Port Jackson in 1788.

The morning ceremony began with a welcome to country by Wiradjuri woman Yvonne Weldon who said January 26 will always be a "sombre" day for Aboriginal people.

The Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council chairperson said whether people call January 26 Invasion Day, Survival Day or Australia Day - it's important to know the country didn't begin 232 years ago.

"It was here, we were here before time began," he said.

After the speeches, the national anthem was sung in both the Eora language and English by the KARI singers and Isaiah Firebrace as the Aboriginal and Australian flags were raised on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Later in the day, more than 10,000 protesters marched from Hyde Park to Victoria Park in Camperdown arguing that January 26 marks "invasion day" for Aboriginal people.

Ben, who chose not to share his last name, chanted loudly as he held a large banner which read: "No pride in indigenous genocide".

"From day one its been an invasion and a genocide of the indigenous people," he told AAP.

"At the very least we need to see a change in the date."

Sydney woman Bronwyn Vost, who is a descendant of a member of the first fleet, said she felt it was her responsibility to show support for the cause.

"I remember watching the march in 1988 and I got involved from then," she said.

Among the protesters were indigenous NRL stars Cody Walker, Latrell Mitchell and James Roberts from the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Nearby, thousands flocked to the Sydney Opera House to watch the popular Ferrython race with the Fred Hollows ferry claiming the win.