NEWCASTLE residents took full advantage of the morning's sunny weather to celebrate Australia Day on Saturday.
Crowds lined the shores of Newcastle Harbour to watch a jam-packed maritime-themed festival, which kicked off with the annual harbour swim.
Amateur athletes - both local and interstate - jumped at the opportunity to swim from Stockton to Newcastle, something that only happens once a year.
Spectators gathered along the foreshore to watch the Australian Water Ski Racing Championship heats that were held throughout the day.
Thousands also took advantage of the free ferry tours that ran from Newcastle Wharf.
For many, the highlight of the day was the annual Ducks 4 Dollars race, which raises money for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service and Hunter surf lifesaving clubs.
Hunter Surf Life Saving chief executive Rhonda Scruton said Duck 4 Dollars pulled in about $35,000, which was slightly down on previous years.
"I don't think the money is around this year but we are still over the moon with that amount," she said.
"The atmosphere was absolutely brilliant on the day, and we managed to sell quite a few ducks."
Money raised by Duck 4 Dollars will be used to buy vital life-saving equipment by the surf clubs and helicopter service.
First prize of $1500 in the race was won by Zac Messenger, of Caves Beach; second place was won by Adrian, from Newcastle Races; and third place was won by Thomas Hatfield, of Caves Beach.
The corporate duck race was won by Kim Starkey, from Swill and Grill.