DOZENS of migrants have celebrated their first Australia Day as citizens in Wodonga.
About 800 people attended Sunday's event at Les Stone Park, including a record 49 new citizens from 17 nationalities.
Rumbi Sanderson grew up in Zimbabwe and moved to Australia in 2008.
The Wodonga resident said the area now felt like home.
"I'm happy," she said.
"I'm here, I'm married, I've got a daughter.
"This is like home to me."
Ms Sanderson left the southern African nation for a better life.
"I did my primary and high school education in Zimbabwe," she said.
"But because of the political and economic unrest there, my parents decided they would prefer for me to study abroad.
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"I've made a lot of friends here."
Returning to the African nation showed the differences between the two countries.
"It's very different," Ms Sanderson said.
"Sometimes you take things for granted.
"There was a time when I visited home and for the first time I saw the level of corruption."
Former Chinese national Xiuying Roberts said moving to Australia had given her a new life.
"It's a wonderful country," she said.
Vivi Oktavia, who has lived in Indonesia and the Middle East with her family, said the citizenship ceremony was symbolic.
"Today will be the new beginning," she said at the gathering.
"It's all very exciting to be here.
"Today is about family, being together with family and celebrating a wonderful day.
"We've lived in other parts of the word but when we had kids, we thought it was time to come home.
"There are more opportunities for kids in Australia to be nourished and to grow up.
"Today is a good day to celebrate."
Volunteers from Wodonga Apex helped feed the crowds.
They cooked 1200 bacon and egg breakfasts and provided litres of juice and tea, and lamingtons.
Australian flags also proved popular at the event, especially with younger attendees.
Apex volunteer Travis hay said a large effort was needed to feed the crowd.
"We've been doing it for at least eight or 10 years," he said.
"Before that it was a lunch.
"The council provides a donation to cover the costs on the day."
The event also featured acoustic guitar and brass band performances, a display of more than 20 classic cars, and a petting zoo for children.
The success of the celebrations may lead to it being moved next year.
Councillor Danny Lowe said the event continued to grow in popularity, to the point Les Stone Park was struggling to cater for the volume of attendees.
"Probably at its peak there were 800 people here," he said on Sunday.
"We're flagging changes to the venue for next year, down to Willow Park where it's a little bit bigger with more car parking.
"As the event is getting bigger each year, it's getting a bit harder to use the park here."
Cr Lowe said there were a record number of new citizens at Sunday's gathering.
"It's one of my highlights of the year," he said.
"It's about celebrating, coming together and acknowledging our citizens of the year.
"You look at what they've achieved in such a short amount of time and you look at yourself and wonder what you've done.
"It's a chance to highlight all the good work people do in our community."