Today, Wednesday 26th January is our Australia Day and a National Public Holiday.
The new “Australian of the Year”, is businessman Simon McKeon, who urged all Australians to use their talents to get involved in charity work. The Victorian investment banker and philanthropist is involved with numerous local and global charities as well as being the chairman of the CSIRO.
He says all Australians should contribute to the not-for-profit sector - not just their money, but their time.
"The flood of need is with us all the time," he told ABC News Breakfast this morning. I'm really hoping that I can inspire as many Australians as I can just to get involved in their cause."
He said people needed to think about how they could use their own skills to make a difference in areas they are interested in.
"I don't expect anyone to be noble... but there is a cause for us all," he told ABC News Breakfast. In my case I'm lousy with my hands. I'm not a blue-collar worker. The way I've tried to help is through white-collar skills. There is a cause, there is a role for us all."
He says his message is aimed more at citizens, not governments.
"My central message, as Australian of the Year 2011, is to 22 million-odd Australians, rather than federal or state governments," he said. "And I hope one or two people listen to it."
Young Australian of the Year Jessica Watson, who sailed solo and non-stop around the world at the age of 16, says she hopes her journey inspires others to achieve their goals.
"Two maybe three years ago, I was the last person anyone would have expected to have sailed around the world," she said. "The first time I went sailing I was terrified and yet here I am today totally humbled to be receiving this."
Equal rights campaigner Professor Ron McCallum, the first blind person to be appointed to a full professorship at an Australian university, has been named the Senior Australian of the year.
And this year's Local Hero is suicide prevention advocate Donald Ritchie, 84. He has intervened in hundreds of suicide attempts near his home overlooking Sydney's notorious cliff, The Gap, talking those at risk back from the edge.
"It gives them the chance of changing their mind," he said. But he says he is almost ready to pass the baton on to others. "I'm 84, 85 in June, so my days of jumping over fences and talking to them, and wrestling with them occasionally, those days are over," he said.
An eclectic mix of well-known faces, plus those providing services to the country behind the scenes make up the list of 441 Australians who have been honoured this year. Ian Parmenter's signature "bon appetit" sign-off became common parlance for thousands of Australians who got hooked on his five-minute cooking show, Consuming Passions.
John Angove received a nod for his accomplishments in helping raise Australia's status as one of the top 10 wine-making countries in the world, after taking over the family-run winery from his father, Thomas Angove. Thomas Angove brought cask wine to the masses, though his 15-year-old son almost thwarted the plan by telling him Australians would find it unpalatable.
ABC journalist Sally Sara, who is currently the broadcaster's Afghanistan correspondent, is among those named as members of the Order of Australia. Sara has been awarded an AM for services to journalism as a foreign correspondent and for her reporting on rural Australia. "It's a lovely surprise and a great honour," Sara said.
Fred Brophy is among the colourful characters to make the honours list, a legend in the receding world of tent boxing. The fourth-generation showman, who held his final boxing tour only last year, has been honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia.
More mainstream sports are well represented on the list, with former Wallaby Mark Loane recognised for his efforts on the rugby field, as well as his contribution as an eye surgeon in remote Indigenous communities.
Outspoken diplomat John Dauth, fashion designer Liz Davenport, former Australian Medical Association president Mukesh Haikerwal, and Sidney Myer, the entrepreneur who sparked dozens of Boxing Day sales, were also among the Australians recognised in 2011.
Happy Australia Day to you all!