In the lead-up to Australia Day, we asked you to send in photos of what you loved about our country.

You responded in droves; we received thousands of entries and our gallery of the best submissions ended up with nearly 600 images.

We've gone through the gallery to select the best of the best, and here, in no particular order, are the top 10 things you appreciate about "the lucky country".

1. 'The best' beaches

Whether you're seeking a swim or a surf or a snorkel or a sand castle, you'll find it all at our beaches.

Some Australians choose to enjoy the safety between the flags on a pure stretch of sand, while others prefer fishing off the rocks on a remote and desolate coast.

A collage of six photos of different Australian beaches and people enjoying them.

Clockwise from top left: Freedom by Miryana TrinajsticBombs Away by Melanie KeelySurfing by Jennifer GowGreat Ocean Wonder by Mark HerronWhitsundays by Cara BrownGreat Barrier Reef by Michelle Rogers.

2. Our adorable mammals

Whether they're cute, cuddly, or fearsome, our furry neighbours are dearly loved.

Clockwise from top left: Possum Magic by Karen VisserKoala and Joey by Leisa MoorePretty-Faced Wallabies by David HigginsFat-Tailed Dunnart by Nicole BaboucekKangaroo by Sylvana RansleyCommittee Meeting by Karen Paul.

3. Our beautiful birds

Not only is our birdlife plentiful, it's also colourful, unique, and often noisy.

While people in other countries only ever see our parrots in cages, we have the privilege of seeing them flying free.

And our birds are clever: the cockatoo pictured here had learned to turn on the tap at the water bubbler.

Clockwise from top left: Car Park Attendant by Piercy PorterFairy Wren by Martin TurmineBindoon Bird Life by Agnes BeatonPrancing Brolga by Guy SkillenClarence River & Country by Debrah NovakMale Emu & His Chicks by David WoodsideHot in the City by Ingrid SuterCrimson Rosellas by Shionagh Goold.

4. The bush

Several photographers commented that what they loved most about the bush was the people, while others appreciated the scenery and the serenity.

Clockwise from top left: Breakfast Creek near Nimbin by Peter PtschelinzewBroken Back Range by Lindsay ThreadgateCentral Canberra by Lindy OrthiaRiver Crossing by Lindy BuckleySplitters Creek by Mary TaylorSnow in the Highlands by Mary Taylor.

5. Our mix of cultures

Many Australians commented on their love of our cultural diversity.

The football team pictured here consisted of kids from 10 different racial backgrounds, and they were "a wonderful group of friends".

Clockwise from top left: Clarence River & Country by Debrah NovakAboriginal Hunting Group by Arthur PalmerInclusive by Marcus EdwardsMulticultural by Michael Hoebert.

6. The outback

Hot, red, dry and somehow still bursting with life. Many photographers told us how living in or travelling through the heart of Australia had shaped who they were as people.

Clockwise from top left: Down South by Craig GeeSpirit of the North by Kerry SharpInland Sunrise by Lynda SnowdenLong Time Abandoned by Paul LoughrySolitude by David RobertsonPetrolheads by David Robertson.

7. Our major cities

Whether it's relaxing in Adelaide, eating mangos in Darwin or road-tripping to Perth, Australians love to be in their capital cities.

Clockwise from top left: Celebrating Queensland by amber KenningtonMONA in Hobart by Julie HollowOur Changing Cities by John SkeneFlinders Street Station by Abhijit GhateMelbourne Laneway by Reinhardt MatisonsTall Ships by Howard Mitchell.

8. Our creepy crawlies

It might seem strange to people from other countries, and even to some Aussies, but it would appear that many Australians love all things that slither, hop, and hang, regardless of how deadly they might be.

Clockwise from top left: Redback by Fay StenhouseNatural World by Kevin CoppalottiFence Skinks by Kay SpenceCritters by Jennifer GowFauna by Elijah Stewart.

9. Our sporting culture

You sent us dozens of photos of cricket matches on beaches, in backyards, and in sweeping paddocks. This is a country that loves its sport.

Clockwise from top left: Beach Cricket by Karen BurnhamSporting Nation by Angela BlasonatoFooty at the MCG by the BlackshawsBathurst by Doug FordWomen's Cricket by Bryan Shanahan.

10. Our native flora

Many Australian children grow up with stories of the blossom babies Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, and it appears this love of our unique flora sticks with them into adulthood.

Clockwise from top left: Illawarra Flame Tree by Caylie JeffreyGum Blossoms by Mary TaylorRosella in Grevillea by Hilary RobertsonSturt's Desert Pea by Ben WyschnjaBanksia by Craig Wilson.

Thank you to everyone who submitted photos for the gallery.

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