Happy Australia Day to all of you back in Canada, they celebrate it on Jan. 26 and once again the Aussie’s have proved they know how to throw a party. The celebrations started on the water with the ferry race. We were watching from the Harbour Bridge and these huge vessels gathered just off an island and steamed off up the harbour, they all turned and 45 minutes later they came streaming towards the bridge. The 21 gun salute took place after which we wandered down to take our pick of the 7 sites of free entertainment in the parks around the Circular Quay and up in The Rocks. You had your pick of musical styles, from rock to reggae, soul, r and b to folk, if we didn’t like one stage we wandered off to another to see if it tickled our fancy, all free!!!
We headed over to the cove beside the Botanical Gardens to watch paratroopers sky dive into the water! First there was the F-18 screaming by doing figure 8’s over the crowd, and then the paratroopers came tumbling out of their plane. This is fairly typical although the landing in the water was something we hadn’t seen before. Then to top it all off a Quantas jumbo jet did a fly by, it made a total of 3 low level passes, the kangaroo plainly visible on its tail.
Fireworks were on tap in Darling Harbour so to finish off the celebrations we strolled over there. There was a floating stage set up on the water in the middle of the harbour, performers were ferried on and off at the back of the stage by boat. There were crooners, rock stars, the police band and the Australian Citizens of the Year were announced and introduced. Then we experienced a parade Aussie style. It consisted entirely of boats. They came through the opened bridge, would pass down one side of the harbour and circle in front of the stage and then pass in front of the crowd on the other side.
The parade paid homage to the working history of Darling Harbour and featured classic motor vessels, working tugs, fire fighting boats and a tall ship. The larger vessels made the turn at the end of the harbour very slowly, carefully maneuvering so as not to come in contact with the center floating stage. Darkness gradually fell, the symphony began to play, the choir sang and a fleet of matching sailboats with their main sails up began to circle behind the stage. The sails were lit up by floodlights and a marvelous display of fire works shot up from the middle of the boats. It was magical and a fitting end to a great celebration.