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23 January 2007

Surf culture's contribution to Australia's social history is being celebrated at the National Museum of Australia on January 26.

The free Between the Flags family festival coincides with the National Museum's Between the Flags surf lifesaving exhibition, which has exceeded visitor forecasts with more than 600 people a day seeing the show in January.

Visitors are now are being invited to grab their thongs and sunnies and join the free Burley-Griffin beach party as they discover what it means to be Australian on Australia Day.

National Museum curator Joanne Bach said surf lifesaving, which marks its centenary in Australia this year, held a very important place in our community and culture.

'Lifesavers are almost mythical figures because of their role in making us feel safe in one of our favourite places,' Joanne said. 'A century after the formation of the movement which became Surf Life Saving Australia, members have made 500,000 rescues across Australia's 11,000 beaches.'

The Australia Day family festival draws its inspiration from the Between the Flags exhibition, which explores the joys and dangers of the beach.

Visitors are invited to ride the mechanical surfboard, play beach volleyball and see live animals including crocodiles, turtles and the blue-ringed octopus.

There will be beach music from local acts Calypso Pan-tas-tic and the Tullys and beach craft for the kids, including jewellery making and surfboard design.

South Coast surf lifesavers will be on hand to talk surf safety and conduct first aid demonstrations.

Visitors are asked to bring along an old thong to add to the 'mile of thongs' being made beside the lake on the day when we celebrate all things Australian.

Between the Flags is on show at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra until February 11, 2007. The Between the Flags family festival is being held lakeside and in the Museum's Hall from 10am to 3pm on Friday, January 26.

For images or more information please contact Dennis Grant on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481; Leanda Kitchen on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710; or

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