The Sydney Morning Herald has confirmed that the Sydney Harbour Bridge southern pylons will be used as a one-off on Tuesday night for the announcement of the result of the Barrier Draw for The Everest horse race.
It is expected a light show on the arch using the Vivid Sydney lights will occur as well as a one-off generic light show on the north-east pylon will occur too.
The projection show though will be held at 7pm, most likely at the south-east pylon only, with the barrier draw conducted in secret earlier after betting on the race is halted at 5pm for about 2 hours. After the barrier draw is done, the projections will be finalised for display. This happened last year, though in different circumstances.
Racing NSW Chief Executive Officer, Peter V’landys told the Sydney Morning Herald that the Barrier Draw reveal on the Sydney Harbour Bridge will be a one-off as it was on the Sydney Opera House a year ago.
This would be of comfort to some people, who were against last year’s projection show due to horse racing’s gambling & animal rights issues.
However, what is more surprising is his revealing of plans to rotate the projection show annually to new locations.
“There are so many great places in Sydney that would make a spectacular backdrop for The Everest barrier draw, we will move it again next year,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“This race is innovative and fresh and we want to keep it that way. It’s why we have done barrier draws at places that haven’t been used before”
“The draw will be memorable I’m sure on Tuesday night and go around the world again.”
Many places are used in Sydney for projections for various events, most notably for Vivid Sydney. This would mean the Barrier Draw projection show could become an annual event for another decade, assuming The Everest is still held.
Unless a new location is used, the most likely location for next year’s Barrier Draw would be the Museum Of Contemporary Art. It’s the next largest projection site in Sydney. Other possible locations in future years include:
Australian National Maritime Museum
Taronga Zoo’s Main Entrance
MLC Centre in Martin Place
The Concourse at Chatswood
Carlton & United Brewery at Central Park
Central Station Clock Tower
Coney Island (Luna Park Sydney)
St Mary’s Cathedral
Sydney Town Hall
We hope Racing NSW uses the Randwick Racecourse grandstand before any of the other locations due to the recent controversy. The Randwick Racecourse grandstand has never been used for projections as far as we are aware.
Unlike the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons and to an extent, the Sydney Opera House, most of the locations listed above have been used only for artistic purposes as part of Vivid Sydney and not for non-artistic events or promotions.
Exceptions include Customs House in 2013 featuring a one-night Doctor Who 50th Anniversary projection show, Argyle Cut this year featured a Pixar-themed projection show at Vivid Sydney, the Australian National Maritime Museum permanently has maritime-themed projections except on special occasions & St Mary’s Cathedral and Sydney Town Hall have been used for annual Christmas-themed projections.
Last year, when the Sydney Opera House refused permission for ‘The Everest’ to hold it’s barrier draw through projections on the iconic sails, mainly due to a clear advertisement at the projection show’s conclusion:
However, while the projection show was amended, it was preceded by a fiery media ‘interview’ between radio host Alan Jones and Sydney Opera House Trust CEO Louise Herron:
It concluded with Alan Jones saying “I will be speaking to Gladys Berejiklian in about 5, 3 minutes”. Gladys Berejiklian, Premier Of NSW, hastingly got the projection show to be approved 9 hours later through Ministerial discretion.
This, as well as the general content of the show, sparked massive protests and petitions and worldwide headlines.
We expect Tuesday night at 7pm will have some sort of protest as it will no doubt draw the ire of some people though we expect it won’t be on the scale of last year. However, the news of making the projection show an annual feature rotating to a different landmark each year may ignite protests again.
We expect The Everest Barrier Draw will be broadcast live again this year on the Sky Racing Thoroughbred Central channel.
We also expect a function will be held simultaneous to the projection show at the nearby Overseas Passenger Terminal, which hosted last year’s barrier draw and the recent Dally M Awards, that were simultaneously projected onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge south-east pylon. It should be noted the Dally M Awards are the National Rugby League (NRL)’s award nights, the NRL is linked to the Australian Rugby League Commission, where Peter V’landys is also currently Chairman-elect.
Racing NSW had already been contacted for comment prior to this news breaking as part of our following of this story. They are yet to respond.
We have also asked most of the possible future projection sites for comment.
It was done as part of a social media campaign where the fictitious Death Eaters’ Dark Mark appears on Australian landmarks as part of a promotion for a re-release of Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire. The book was first released in 2000, 19 years ago.
We can confirm through webcam images of the Sydney Harbour Bridge that the projections were done for at least 25 minutes. It may have been even longer as the webcam stopped at 11pm at night.
This most likely is a form of guerrilla marketing but in the end, why did they choose to do this in what most likely will be a controversy-ridden week about the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons & the concept of advertising?
We can’t confirm whether approval was given by the NSW Government for this projection.
Last year, in the midst of The Everest controversy, The Chaser, a satirical comedy group well known for their APEC Summit – Sydney 2007 motorcade stunt did something similar by promoting ‘advertiser’ (actually, radio host) Alan Jones’ phone number by projecting it onto buildings such as the Sydney Opera House, NSW Parliament and even Alan Jones’ own home (which is located in a well-known Sydney building). However, that was clearly for satirical comedy purposes.
Protests banner’s have often gone up on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, even this week, clearly without approval. However, it is a form of protest, not a commercial advertisement though they were fined for putting an advertisment up, which in some respect it was. It’s not even a form of Government-approved advertisement on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for an organisation of a currently-being-protested cause. So protests aren’t of great concern for the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s integrity though sometimes those protests can be a huge inconvenience when not government-approved.
Bloomsbury’s projections are clearly a commercial advertisement, guerrilla or not and is using the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons as a billboard regardless if approval was given or not.
Bloomsbury should have know better given the current climate for this sort of activity.
For the past 8 nights, the NRL Grand Final Week has been celebrated on the Sydney Harbour Bridge more than ever before.
The NRL has done projection mapping on both pylons for NRL Grand Final Week between 2011 & 2014 and only on the south-east pylon in 2010 & 2019. Mostly, these just consisted of celebratory images of the season past or of current players from the Grand Final teams.
Unexpectedly after a 4 year absence, these projections returned for 2019. The 2019 edition was larger than ever before incorporating the lighting used on the Sydney Harbour Bridge during Vivid Sydney with additional lighting used on the north-east pylon, which was also inadvertently beamed onto the roadway below the pylon for about half the past week.
After the Grand Final teams were announced on Tuesday, that night’s projections featured each player in both the NRL and NRLW Grand Final teams as announced.
Wednesday night saw a real-time unveiling of the 2019 Dally M winners being projected. This was just simultaneous to the actual announcement.
Saturday night, after the Grand Final’s conclusion saw a projection of the Sydney Roosters lifting the Provan-Summons Trophy (obviously from last year’s win) on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, indicating to Sydney who won the match. The Bridge was lit in the team’s colours too.
Sunday night, however, saw 4 different projections used on rotation. Projections were on rotation for most of the past week, mainly of NRL players, moments and celebratory messages. We can confirm one last night was of the Rugby League World Cup 9’s logo, which was posted on Twitter by a user:
The logo seems to have the event’s sponsor removed from the projection, which would have been inside the ‘9’ at the top. 3 words underneath ‘World Cup 9’s’ can’t be interpreted but the actual logo only has 2 words ‘Sydney 2019’.
The Rugby League World Cup 9’s is an event unrelated to the current event being held, NRL Grand Final Week. The only relation is that it is the same sport. The tournament does not begin for 10 days, indicating this was acting as a promotion for a future event – the purpose of an advertisement. It is also the 1st edition of the event ever, so there is no chance this is of being city/state/national/global significance, apart from having hosting rights and the fact NSW is a rugby league fanbase.
2 other projections shown last night we believe celebrated the recent Grand Finals and the Sydney Roosters’ win. The other projection we can’t confirm the content of (If you know, please contact us).
It should be noted Peter V’Landys, CEO of Racing NSW (and at the time of The Everest Barrier Draw projection show last year), recently became Chairman-elect of the Australian Rugby League Commission and these NRL Grand Final Week projections are being done in conjunction with Destination NSW, who also did the recent Greater Western Sydney Giants lighting, though for some reason, did not add projections for that occasion.
Destination NSW has been contacted for comment. We would contact the NRL too for comment but we can’t find a contact. Stay tuned to this post in case we receive a comment.
We can’t confirm whether the Rugby League World Cup 9’s projection was announced in that press conference – the NRL/NRL W team line-up projections were, the Dally M projections were, the Grand Final winning team one wasn’t (though it was very likely given those other 2 announced).
Strangely, in Monday’s media release, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said:
This is something we have never done before over the entire week
As we pointed out at the article’s start, they have – numerous times. We wonder why he said that?
These NRL Grand Final Week 2019 projections are done similar to the proposed The Everest Barrier Draw projection show next week. The only difference so far is the north-eastern pylon is being lit but we expect The Everest Barrier Draw will incorporate that too.
The special usages of the south-east pylon done this year for NRL Grand Final Week that we mentioned such as the Dally M winner projections, NRL Grand Final winning team projections and NRL/NRLW Grand Final teams line-up projections are also all similar to The Everest Barrier Draw concept (particularly the Dally M projections).
All this could be to justify the upcoming The Everest Barrier Draw projection show being done.
While some may consider The Everest Barrier Draw projection shows to also be an advertisement, whilst it does promote the event to a degree, it is being used for an active event that is being held at the time of the projection show.
We pointed out last week that logos have been used before on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, mainly to show they are sponsors of Sydney NYE on the night of the event:
Sydney NYE does do projections on the pylons other than of sponsors on that night – there is the countdown, community messages, safety messages as well as occasional event theming. So there is a precedent for logos being used. However, the Rugby League World 9’s is not a sponsor of NRL Grand Final Week or it’s projections.
The Rugby League World Cup 9’s projection seems intended as an advertisement hidden amongst the other NRL Grand Final Week projections. We can’t recall any similar projections being done (heaps of projections have been done but due to poor notification of them, our history of them is a bit scattered all over the place) apart from the Sydney NYE corporate branding but given the context of Sydney NYE, that seems fine particularly as it allows that event to be held. The Rugby League World Cup 9’s projection does not seem to match that context or any other previous projection show that we can recall (though we are happy to be corrected if someone can recall a similarly done projection show in the past 11 years – projection mapping on the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons began in 2008).
This all comes about 1 year after The Everest Barrier Draw caused controversy when news reports appeared that Racing NSW were displeased at the Sydney Opera House Trust’s decision to reject a projection show for a barrier draw, particularly when it concluded in a clear advertisement:
The advertisement was later removed and the projection show amended. However, a fiery ‘interview’ between broadcaster Alan Jones and the Sydney Opera House Trust CEO caused headlines particularly when it concluded with Alan Jones saying he will speak to Gladys Berejiklian, Premier Of NSW, in “5, 3 minutes”. Her decision to proceed with the projection show amended was hastenily made 9 hours later. This, along with the general content of the projection show, caused protests and petitions and generated worldwide headlines along with a warning from UNESCO that it puts the Opera House’s Word Heritage status at risk.
With an announcement of a similar show but a Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon due to be made sometime this week (with the show being held next Tuesday night), there is an expectation protests may arise again though the scale and controversy may not be as large as last year.
As with the proposed The Everest Barrier Draw projection show, the NRL Grand Final Week projections would have needed approval from Roads & Maritime Services as well as Heritage NSW. We now wonder, with the latter, how did the Rugby League World Cup 9’s projection get approval?
So, what do you think? Is the Rugby League World Cup 9’s projection image on the Sydney Harbour Bridge south-east pylon an advertisement? Tell us what you think in our polls below:
Note: Updated on 8th October to point out Peter V’landys is Chairman-elect of the Australian Rugby League Commission. He becomes Chairman on October 30.
10Daily reported that Senior Federal Labor MP Tanya Plibersek commented that she thought the idea was “tacky” and not a “great look”.
“I think advertising anything on the Harbour Bridge or the Opera House is pretty tacky,” she told reporters.
“I’ve got nothing against racing, but I just question the tastefulness of this sort of advertising.”
But unlike the Sydney Opera House projection show, there are a few things that you can’t argue as ‘precedent setting’ with this year’s proposed Sydney Harbour Bridge southern pylon show as they have been done before.
Firstly, before we go into detail, Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon projections are unnoticeable when they happen. They have been used over the past decade to promote events, causes and companies but the audience they have reached is insignificant.
The audience around the Harbour is pretty low for most of these (the exception being on NYE where reach is between half to 2 million & depending on distance from pylons) but the social media value is a lot larger as it gives the impression that this is something important – of national significance – to those who see such a social media post and this is where the core of the issue lies.
It implies an endorsement of something on behalf of the city, state or country as global landmarks like the Sydney Harbour Bridge are representative of these (Sydney or NSW or Australia). However, most Sydney Harbour Bridge pylon projection shows are not even noticed or remembered so if reducing publicity of the event is an aim of a future protest, it will likely increase publicity of the projections thus defeating the protest’s aim. It’s like a climate change activist burning a pro-coal banner. The fire contributes to climate change – the thing they are trying to prevent. Media analysts found the controversies, petitions & protests gave The Everest $21 million in free global publicity. However, not protesting implies an endorsement. Expressing that you don’t endorse something is a great way to protest if it doesn’t help your ‘opponent’ for lack of a better word. Last year’s projection show caused such a storm that it was going to get publicity anyway when it happened.
As we’ve pointed out before, messaging combined with events spells disaster. This is something that is slowly appearing in Sydney’s major events & projection shows and definitely will at this year’s Sydney NYE. The Remain-themed (Brexit) London NYE2018 is a good recent example of what negative consequences it brings. Whilst mostly London did vote Remain, the city represents the whole UK to the world and with the nation split on that issue, it was no surprise that Leave supporters were angry that the world got the impression that all of the UK is wanting to remain in the EU. We believe this won’t affect London NYE much as most attendees were Londoners probably. However, TV audiences & domestic tourists of the event may be affected later this year.
This is also why last year’s The Everest projection show made people upset. The Sydney Opera House represents Australia to the world so Australia may be divided on things like gambling, horse racing or animal rights. Sydneysiders mostly attended the protest so it could just be a city vs state issue as well particularly after the (at the time) relatively recent NSW decision to ban greyhound racing. Due to regional citizens not happy with the ban, it was overturned in the midst of The Everest projection anger.
Outside of Vivid Sydney, most Sydney Opera House projection shows are also unnoticable or forgettable. However, last year’s The Everest projection show was to be the 1st featuring a clear ‘billboard’ advertisement, breaking UNESCO rules & Sydney Opera House Trust policies and only got attention when the Sydney Opera House Trust refused to host the projection show.
One main reason the Sydney Opera House Trust rejected it is because there was no associated event held at the Sydney Opera House itself on the night – instead it was to be held across the Harbour at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, where the projectors are housed sometimes. As far as we are aware, no similar rule applies to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The Everest Barrier Draw 2019 proposal for the Sydney Harbour Bridge though involves lighting up the Sydney Harbour Bridge like they do during Vivid Sydney except the projection show on the south-eastern pylon will be similar in design to last year’s Sydney Opera House projection show and as far as we are aware, on both southern pylons (though we expect the south-east pylon will only be used).
Unlike last year’s, it mostly won’t be precedent setting. This article details the history and similar examples of what is proposed for a few weeks time.
But first, it would be good to point out key differences to last year’s show. The first thing that got people angry last year was the advertising.
No Actual Advertising This Year
In all the anger last year, the actual projection that caused all the events was rarely shown. This was it:
As you can see, it features the logo, date & location of the event – all hallmarks of a clear ‘billboard’ advertisement. This part of the show (as well as all features of the logo) were removed in the final show. There was no actual advertising in the final show. In the end, both the proposed and final projection show were probably the worst designed projection shows ever done on the Sydney Opera House because they gave no context to the Harbour audience (plus the proposed one featured a clear advertisement).
The final projection show (minus The Everest trophy) is proposed to be recreated on the Sydney Harbour Bridge southern pylons this year so this means there is also no actual advertising too this year.
It should be noted that last year the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons were Racing NSW’s original idea before the NSW Government ruled it out (who knows why) and suggested the Sydney Opera House instead. Nevertheless, if Racing NSW’s original idea went ahead, if a similar projection show conclusion happened, it may have ignited a storm too. The logo wouldn’t have been a problem (as many logos have featured in similar projection shows as you will see below) but the date & location would have. A better conclusion would have been ‘See you in X days at Royal Randwick!’ thus addressing the audience & wider Harbour with a conclusion instead of putting up what is akin to a Times Square digital billboard targeted to anyone who happens to see it.
No Media-Politics Links
Now with that actual advertisement in the originally proposed show last year, the Sydney Opera House Trust stood firm for changes and always did. But then the head of the Trust, Louise Herron, did an ‘interview’ with Alan Jones. You all heard the audio. If you didn’t, it is here:
Whilst the ‘interview’ was one of the most horrendous ever, it concluded with these words from host Alan Jones:
…I will be speaking to Gladys Berejiklian in about 5, 3 minutes…
Gladys Berejiklian was at the time and currently is Premier of New South Wales. 9 hours later, reports were coming in that the NSW Government would use the Minister’s discretion to force the Sydney Opera House to hold an amended projection show – a request made by the Premier. This was despite reports the Minister was personally being conflicted with the Premier’s request & the clear anger in the community building throughout the day, not just of the interview and advertisement proposal (which had since been cancelled) but of the links between media personalities & politicians particularly after the recent Federal Liberal Parliamentary Party leadership spill. Their influence was seen as strong while the community mostly ignored. By the time the projection show was held, a light-based protest was organised and a giant online-based petition featuring hundreds of thousands of digital signatures was printed and sent to the NSW Parliament.
So far this time, there has been no media personalities influencing politicians.
This means the only points of anger now left are related to gambling, horse racing & animal rights. This is where we will begin to examine the history.
The pylons were first used in the 1980’s for an artwork. It was a lit-up Southern Cross attached to the south-eastern pylon. But it’s first major usage and now most prominent, is for Sydney New Year’s Eve. It began in 1998 when laser projections were introduced for the event in 1998. They were replaced by light projections in 2000 and projection mapping was introduced in 2009. The western pylons were first used in 2015. As of today, they are still used for Sydney NYE sponsors’ branding.
If corporate branding for Sydney NYE is a problem, this will affect the sponsorship of Sydney NYE as it will affect the reach sponsors can get out of the 1 million people around the Harbour and could speed up the decline of the event.
Projection mapping on the Sydney Harbour Bridge south-eastern pylon was introduced for Vivid Sydney in 2013. However, it is not used for corporate purposes but for artistic purposes. It forms Bangarra Dance Theatre’s annual projection show:
Before projection mapping was used at Sydney NYE & Vivid Sydney, it was introduced in general in 2008 for World Youth Day. It has been used ever since for major events & causes though many don’t realise it as it has low reach. Here are some from over the years, some promoting active events, some not:
The light show to be used in this year’s Barrier Draw was introduced at Vivid Sydney in 2013 on the western side but was switched to the eastern side in 2015 and still exists.
In recent years, the light show has also been used for other events most notably World Road Safety Week & Australia Day In Sydney. It also occasionally has been used for State Of Origin (when NSW does well – especially 2014, which is below):
This year’s The Everest Barrier Draw proposal seems to confirm the Vivid Sydney light show is now permanently installed on the Bridge but used for only a few weeks each year.
Other Sporting Events
Over the past decade, the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons have been used for sporting event projections.
The Australian Football League (AFL) and National Rugby League (NRL) are Australia’s 2 most attended sporting leagues and have used the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons before – mostly NRL.
Todd Greenburg, in a press conference, referring to Cooper Cronk’s image being projected, said how that player’s “brand is sitting on the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge” and that “it demonstrates, again, the power of the game. It demonstrates the power our players have”.
These NRL Grand Final Week 2019 projections are done similar to the proposed The Everest Barrier Draw projection show later this month. The only difference is the north-eastern pylon is being lit (and badly too – it is shining the powerful lights onto the roadway below the pylon).
It should be noted Peter V’Landys, CEO of Racing NSW (and at the time of The Everest projection show last year), recently became Chairman-elect of the Australian Rugby League Commission and these NRL Grand Final Week projections are being done in conjunction with Destination NSW, who also did the recent Greater Western Sydney Giants lighting, though for some reason, did not add projections for that occasion.
Strangely, in today’s media release, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said:
This is something we have never done before over the entire week
They have – numerous times. We wonder why he said that?
It could be to justify the upcoming The Everest Barrier Draw projection show being done.
‘NRL Grand Final Week’ Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Projections 2014 Photograph: Australian Broadcasting Corporation
NRL & AFL are well known for their connections to gambling organisations and have endured over the years numerous relevant scandals involving their players. The NRL’s corporate partner is Sportsbet while the AFL’s is Bet Easy. TV networks that broadcast their sports to a community audience bombard that audience with many gambling ads from many gambling companies whose advertisements normalise gambling by promoting it like a business or profession.
It could be fair to say NRL & AFL indirectly do more to promote gambling than horse racing does (though most people know horse racing does more to directly promote gambling than NRL & AFL does).
Using the Sydney Harbour Bridge to celebrate a sporting event whether it is gambling-focused or not is not unusual. The proposed The Everest projection show this year is no different.
The only argument against the above paragraph is that The Everest is not as big as the Melbourne Cup yet. The Melbourne Cup mainly became ‘The Race That Stops The Nation’ because an interstate Melbourne Cup rivalry between Victoria & NSW developed. The Everest has only beaten the Melbourne Cup in the prize money stakes and no rivalry of similar nature has developed with that race particularly when lots of international horses are in it. Melbourne Cup‘s attendance is also more than double that of The Everest. The Melbourne Cup‘s TV ratings are sky high too in comparison.
While The Everest projection show this year is intended to promote the event through celebration just like NRL & AFL, the projection show is not an advertisement or celebration itself. Rather than just as a promotion or celebration, projections done for The Everest have always been intended as part of their Barrier Draw, which can be considered as part of the sporting event itself.
There is a precedent for incorporating (or at least, proposing to incorporate) the Sydney Harbour Bridge in projections/lights as part of a sporting event (and not just for promotional/celebratory purposes). It never happened though due to cost and possibly because the technology wasn’t quite there. It was a half a decade ahead of it’s time…
The Rugby World Cup 2003 Final was proposed to have the most extravagant Bridge Effect ever.
The Rugby World Cup Trophy was to be the Bridge Effect with multiple miniature Bridge Effects of a rugby ball running along the arch. Players would be projected onto the pylons ‘kicking’ the ball back and forth along the Bridge’s arch when a try/goal happened during the game. The score of each team would be shown on each pylon as fireworks erupted from the pylon’s top.
But due to cost & technological limitations, in the end, just a rugby ball became the Bridge Effect. In hindsight, that was probably wise as the Rugby World Cup Bridge Effect & opening/closing Harbour fireworks displays are the most forgotten displays of all time. Barely any footage exists apart from this short video:
In the end, the only arguments against the proposed The Everest Barrier Draw projection show that have no precedent involve horse racing or barrier draws. This will be the 1st horse racing or barrier draw projection show on the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons. Gambling alone doesn’t cut it as an argument when many other gambling-rich sports have been projected on the pylons in the past & even this year. And so far, for this year’s Barrier Draw, there are no ‘billboard’ advertisement designs proposed nor any media figures personally saying they will ring the Premier to ensure it happens. It is only precedent setting and the only reason to protest this year without any fault in argument is in regards to horse racing or barrier draws.
By all means, if you feel you need to protest it due to the gambling links & the promotional/celebratory purposes, feel free to. We are not stopping you nor trying to discourage you but you might as well protest nearly all the other ones including the NRL one currently happening.
Note: Article updated on the 1st of October to include the Dally M Medal award projections and updated on the 5th of October to include details on last year’s publicity figures & to correct details about this year’s projection show – it won’t feature ‘The Everest’ trophy, which it did last year. Updated on 8th October to point out Peter V’landys is Chairman-elect of the Australian Rugby League Commission. He becomes Chairman on October 30.
This article or previous versions does and did not imply that Sydney Spectaculars endorses horse racing or gambling etc. This article & it's earlier versions are only to show how similar projections have been done before with no protests.
THIS ARTICLE HAS SINCE BEEN UPDATED (4:30PM 03/09/2019 AEST) FOLLOWING INITIAL PUBLICATION AT 8PM 02/09/2019.
That’s right – this is a big call.
For those who remember it, the Millennium was a moment of global unity.
While Rio De Janerio brang the biggest crowds (and they still do), 2 other cities rang in the new Millennium with what were called the best fireworks displays of the night (or the last Millennium). These cities were Sydney and Paris.
Paris was ranked 2nd on the night. The display was done by Groupe F and the countdown of the display replicated a rocket launch with the rocket (or Tower) lifting off at Midnight, taking Paris into the new Millennium (Video below does not feature the fireworks soundtrack):
Sydney’s though will be remembered for an Eternity.
Sydney’s display featured the Sydney Harbour Bridge & Opera House, city buildings, pontoons in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and 4 barges along the Harbour, 2 in the west and 2 in the east. That display was mostly done by Syd Howard Fireworks though the western barges were coordinated by Foti International Fireworks, who have done every Sydney New Year’s Eve (NYE) since.
The display, 25 minutes long, double the length of post-2005 displays, celebrated 2 themes – time and Sydney – in a phrase Sydney’s Millennium. It celebrated humanity’s history, beginning with a big bang of sorts and after the traditional Auld Lang Syne, launched into a History Of Pop, featuring 60 significant songs of the 20th century (in roughly chronological order) as well as moments of Australian & international importance like The Dismissal & Apollo 11. After then, it celebrated Australia with a remix of Down Under and Yothu Yindi songs. Encapsulting the universality of the moment, which is best represented by the iconic ‘Smiley Face’ Bridge Effect, which was used in most of the show, What A Wonderful World was then played. The rest of the songs represented modern music (Itacycoo Park), time (One Of These Days & History Repeating) & the best fireworks finale ever (Let’s Go Crazy).
Swan Lake then launched the finale. The finale symbolised the dramatic present (the start of a new Millennium) and the future with the iconic rainbow at the end launching the timeline of the display into an Eternity – a word written around Sydney by Arthur Stace from the 1930’s. Bells then rang from St Andrew’s & Mary’s Cathedrals for the 1st time ever on NYE celebrating the new Millennium.
No doubt Sydney’s millennium display was iconic not just for the scale of the fireworks but it’s theming & musical choice.
The Millennium formula, which was tested for nearly 3 years prior, was set in stone and remained how Sydney NYE was done until 2014. In 2015, the iconic Bridge Effect, which had since 1997 taken many forms, disappeared for various reasons. Since then, a light show has taken it’s place, which has been a suitable replacement though it doesn’t have the same anticipation about it.
Efforts to make a theme without a Bridge Effect were made by finding a local artist to do an artwork based around a theme, which was successful and have turned the artworks themselves into something that is deserving & worthy of anticipation.
However, today’s revealing of the updated Sydney NYE website for the 2019 edition revealed an artwork by Garbett Design to be used for the next 3 years. The artwork we can say looks amazing and stunning.
You can expect possibly slight changes in the artwork each year depending on circumstances/outcomes of previous editions with the artwork but most of the artwork will be the same for the next 3 years.
Sadly, the updated website today confirmed that Sydney NYE is now no longer doing themes – a critical aspect of the event. This is the 1st time this has happened since 1995. The website said this:
The spontaneous energy of Sydney and its people inspires the event artwork.
Sydney New Year’s Eve is vibrant, raw and energetic. The spirit of the city is demonstrated in the bright, colourful, flexible and optimistic artwork developed by globally awarded, Sydney-based studio Garbett Design.
Inclusive, celebratory and safe
New Year’s Eve marks endings and anticipates new beginnings. Say goodbye to the old and hello to the new at this festive party for everyone.
The City of Sydney’s gift to the people, Sydney New Year’s Eve is a safe, sustainable event, celebrating local artists before the eyes of the world. Everyone can take part in this uniquely Sydney celebration.
While early December used to be the most likely day to reveal the theme, it seems very unlikely now that a theme will be announced in early December as recent years have had the theme revealed on the website a lot earlier.
It is now essentially just a fireworks display for at least 3 years as the light show & same artwork is being used for the next 3 years, the 2020 & 2021 editions have nothing to anticipate for apart from the fireworks soundtrack. The fireworks soundtrack will never go as modern technology ensures it is to stay plus nearly all fireworks displays nowadays have soundtracks. But the theming, which is decided by humans alone, will no longer be. It seems Sydney NYE has moved from being a creative celebration to a government marketing promotion for Sydney and this spells trouble. Events known for their creativity and moving towards a marketing or messaging approach are destined for failure. Like we have mentioned many times before, just look at the Closing Ceremony of the XXIst Commonwealth Games – Gold Coast 2018.
Back to Paris. The Eiffel Tower has remained unused on NYE ever since, though since 2018, the Arc De Triumphe has been used for projections and fireworks. However, that will never beat Sydney. In 2009, to celebrate the Eiffel Tower’s 120th anniversary, the Eiffel Tower was used as part of Paris’s Bastille Day celebrations. They added projections to the show this time and included a little reference to the Millennium display:
The only fault with the display was the Eiffel Tower’s reintroduction was not emotionally powerful. It wasn’t the best display but it utilized Sydney’s strengths as well as the emerging technology of projection mapping, which at this time was making it’s Sydney Opera House debut at the 1st Vivid Sydney. Notable is the strong usage of theming – the display told the history of the Eiffel Tower from 1885 – the year the concept plans of the Eiffel Tower were presented to the Society of Civil Engineers.
Clearly, Paris liked the display so 4 years later, they brought back the Eiffel Tower fully back (partially & briefly for red stationary flares in 2013) and have kept it as part of the fireworks since. The 2014 display, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I, saw Groupe F produce what we think is the greatest pyrotechnic display ever done. It solved all the problems of the 2009 display and it is a display Sydney would be proud of. Sydney’s 2013 International Fleet Review Spectacular probably follows in 2nd place. Their 2014 display, titled War & Peace tells the story of France since 1914 and also features acrobatics & circus acts and brilliant cinematography from France Television:
Groupe F has since produced nearly all future Eiffel Tower displays. Some other companies have done these displays but you can tell the difference in quality. However, all years since 2013 (and maybe even some before then) have had a theme!:
2013 – Freedom, Equality, Fraternity
2014 – War & Peace*
2015 – Paris Welcomes The World*
2016 – Paris Is 1 Party*
2017 – Olympism
2018 – Love*
2019 – Federation Party
*Groupe F show
This makes every Bastille Day distinctly different! Other years are below for your viewing:
The 2018 & 2019 displays have been geoblocked to Australia so we can’t see them. The 2017 display has been made a private video too. But a documentary was made on how Groupe F produce the 2018 show:
If anyone in France is reading this and can provide us a copy of these displays and/or a full translation into English of the documentary, that would be appreciated.
The Eiffel Tower was also used for fireworks 3 times before the Millennium – for it’s 100th anniversary (1989, where it also featured lasers & acrobatics), the opening (1889) and during construction (Yes, during construction in 1887!).
Paris has never gone to the effort of trying to beat Sydney. Sydney’s local & state governments have just taken NYE for granted now. It’s all about marketing, messaging & money rather than celebration, community & creativity.
Sydney has inspired the USA, China, France & the UK to do similar displays.
In fact, New York (with the Brooklyn Bridge) in 1983 inspired Sydney to use the Sydney Harbour Bridge, who since 2014, have inspired New York to bring back the Brooklyn Bridge into fireworks displays. That’s right – if New York keeps improving their displays, their Macy’s July the 4th Fireworks, which once again feature the Brooklyn Bridge could rival Sydney but New York still needs a lot of improvement (Mind you, we’re not American so maybe their cultural preferences suit their display – It’s their national day after all).
The UK even copied Sydney’s own method of Olympic success by also using their NYE celebrations as a ‘test event’ for the Olympics. With Paris due to host the Olympics in 2024, would Paris capitalise on the Eiffel Tower’s fireworks growth and use it on NYE in a couple of years time as an annual ‘test event’ in the lead up to the Games? Maybe they would use the Eiffel Tower like Sydney used in the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the Closing Ceremony of the 2000 Olympics? If so, they will smash Sydney in NYE stakes as Paris’s annual displays looks distinctly different. Sydney isn’t so much anymore.
For the record, we are not saying Foti International Fireworks lack creativity. Unlike Paris, Sydney’s fireworks companies have always specialised in just fireworks with other creativity coming from external sources. Groupe F of Paris has expertise in not just fireworks but acrobatics, projections, lights etc. And that’s a major difference. Foti Fireworks still produce brilliant pyrotechnic displays. It’s just their appointers, the City Of Sydney & the NSW Government, are completely using Sydney NYE as a cash cow instead of a creative masterpiece. The overall event will decline in quality rapidly as a result.
Paris is on the rise, Sydney is on the decline. It isn’t Paris’s fault that Sydney isn’t as exciting as it used to be. It is purely Sydney’s own fault.
In other news from the updated website:
A disclaimer now appears upon accessing the Vantage Points webpage. No doubt to remove the City Of Sydney from any associations with commercialisation of the event.
It might be just us but the ticketed events appear first on the Vantage Points webpage. Hopefully everyone notices there are free vantage points too! (If you are also taken straight to the ticketed events, please let us know so it can be confirmed). However, this shows an increased emphasis on ticketing.
East Circular Quay is now free managed access again! YAY! Most likely due to pressure from nearby businesses.
Campbell’s Cove has gone from free ticketed to paid ticketed (AUD$10) NAY!
A special ‘Events’ webpage, as revealed last week by the City Of Sydney, shows an emphasis on private 3rd-party events to a scale never seen before. The closest was in 2011 when they did ‘After Midnight’ – a list of venues & private 3rd-party events held after the Midnight Fireworks to visit on your way home.
Pre-Show Entertainment and the whole event now starts at 6:50pm. Recent previous editions started at 6pm with an aerial display.
Most of these dot points’ show the events’ purpose is shifting from one of creativity to one of commercialisation. Some improvement, but still as dramatic a decline as last year due to North Sydney now being ticketed as confirmed last month by North Sydney Council.
What do you think? Tell us what you think in our poll. That would truly tell if Sydney has stuffed up NYE.
So we now have each year, in terms of ‘flagship Sydney Spectaculars’:
Vivid Sydney (Late May to mid-June)
Sydney New Year’s Eve (The 31st of December to the 1st of January)
Australia Day Live (The 26th of January)
That photograph above does sum up the event’s new scale but it is missing 1 new event element in the photograph – the Hercules aircraft flare dispense – which started the 1st fireworks display of the night:
Other major new event elements included:
Boats on Sydney Harbour, most likely from the Sydney New Year’s Eve 2018 – The Pulse Of Sydney: Harbour Of Light Parade, had a synchronised light show.
Overseas Passenger Terminal was used for fireworks
Sydney Harbour Bridge had an synchronised light show
Sydney Opera House was used for fireworks
If you missed ‘Australia Day Live’, the full 2 hour event can be seen below:
‘Australia Day Live’ is the concluding event of ‘Australia Day In Sydney’, which is also getting larger. But notably, the overall event will have to for ‘Australia Day Live’ to get any larger.
‘Australia Day Live’ is completely focused on Circular Quay except briefly for the Hercules aircraft flare dispense. For it to break the boundaries of Circular Quay, significant crowds would need to appear at Mrs Macquaries Point, Bradfield Park & Mary Booth Lookout. Just as importantly, more boats would need to be anchored in Farm Cove, near Fort Denision & in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
To allow for larger crowds, crowds need a reason to go there. All these locations are very far from Circular Quay – Mrs Macquaries Point is separated from Circular Quay by the Royal Botanic Gardens, which is closed at night & the other 2 foreshore vantage points are on the other side of the Harbour. People do watch ‘Australia Day Live’ from these locations already but they are not in significant numbers yet. All 3 are, after all, very far away to see anything but fireworks, which mostly happen for 15 minutes at 9:15pm (All times in this article are in Australian Eastern Daylight Time).
Unlike Sydney New Year’s Eve, despite the Sydney Opera House now featuring fireworks for ‘Australia Day Live’, there is no need yet to get there early to get a good spot. Last year’s ‘Australia Day Live’ did reach capacity in Circular Quay but that happened half-way through the concert. As far as we are aware, capacity was not reached this year.
This should signal a drop in attendance. And it is easy to see why. If there is 1 flaw with ‘Australia Day Live’, is that it is a ‘made-for-television’ event. The only good place to see ‘Australia Day Live’ is on television or at the Concert itself (so that means you need a ticket & not just be in the vicinity).
If you are around Circular Quay, most of the 2 hours is spent watching a big screen. You might as well watch it on television. The Circular Quay entertainment is split up into 6 distinct shows:
Welcome/Good Times (7:30pm to 7:39pm)
Tug & Yacht Ballet (7:55pm to 8pm)
Sunset Ceremony (8:20pm to 8:30pm)
Tribute To Opera (8:47pm to 8:50pm)
Circular Quay Party (9:08pm to (9:11pm)
Spectacular (9:15pm to 9:30pm)
That’s about 45 minutes of a 2 hour event spent with actual entertainment in front of you and that is not on a big screen.
You might say ‘What about Sydney New Year’s Eve? There is hours between entertainment for that event’.
The difference is that New Year’s Eve is focused around Midnight. Midnight is the whole point of New Year’s Eve. And since Sydney’s Midnight Fireworks are iconic and world famous, people are willing to wait for not just hours but days to see the 12 minute record-breaking fireworks display.
Australia Day is focused around a day – a whole 24 hours. Since ‘Australia Day Live’, as a Circular Quay event rather than the Concert, is promoted as ‘1 event’ rather than ‘5 separate events followed by 1 major fireworks display at 9:15pm)’, you can’t blame the crowd if they leave because they think it’s either over, repetitive or lengthy & thus, boring. The approximately 20 minute breaks between the entertainment is rather disruptive and given most of the earlier entertainment features fireworks, you can’t blame the crowd if they thought they saw the main fireworks display, thought ‘That’s it???’ and left. The lower attendance might also be because the crowd did the same thing last year but waited until the end of the event that time and thought it wasn’t worth the wait this time (Well, they didn’t know how spectacular it would be).
If you got a ticket and were at the actual Concert, it was fine because you get to watch about 8 live performances over the 2 hours taking place on a stage – not a big screen.
The television/Internet broadcast is the same but also had frequent interviews with Australians & feature pieces on Australians and Australia Day.
Essentially, ‘Australia Day Live’ is made up of 4 parts:
Live musical performances
Circular Quay entertainment
The 1st problem needing to be fixed is the inconsistent Circular Quay entertainment. Either by properly advertising it as 6 events at different times over 2 hours instead of 1 2-hour long event or by shifting all the Circular Quay entertainment into 1 bundle, where possible, near 8:45pm or by adding more Circular Quay entertainment so spectators don’t spend 60% of their time staring at a big screen.
The 2nd problem is only if they want to grow the event. To do this, like we said earlier, they need crowds at vantage points further away from Circular Quay. ‘Australia Day Live’ does not have enough prestige yet to have people wait hours at these locations when a better vantage point still has room right up until the event starts. The only way to get a crowd in these locations to expand the overall ‘Australia Day In Sydney’ event.
‘Australia Day In Sydney’ has several events which have a long & significant history but the day can be broken up into 3 distinct event phases:
WulgulOra Morning Ceremony (7:45am to 8:30am)
Salute To Australia (10:45am to 12:15pm) – This includes the Ferrython, Salute To Australia & Tug & Yacht Ballet
Australia Day Live (6:30pm to 9:30pm)
There is a clear 6 hour gap in notable entertainment. There is entertainment but nothing worth the crowd waiting around for. First is In The Sky, a near 2-hour air show but actually features just 3 flyovers: A half-hour helicopter flag display at around 12:20pm; a Qantas A380 flyover at 1:15pm and the Red Berets parachute display at 2pm.
At 12:45pm, the near-hour long Australia Day Harbour Parade begins. Similar to Sydney New Year’s Eve’s Harbour Of Light Parade, the only difference is that it doesn’t feature lights – just decorations. A big problem is the lack of exclusion zone (for obvious reasons) which cause the Parade to blend in with other Harbour traffic. Also, as it is a Parade, despite lasting nearly an hour, a spectator only sees it for a few minutes.
At 1pm, there is the Tall Ships Race.This is probably something worthy of waiting around for but unlike the Ferrython, it doesn’t start & finish in the same place so unless you are on a boat, you would see either the start or finish but not both. With the finish being the better option to see and the race concluding at around 1:30pm, the near 75 minute wait after the Salute To Australia phase isn’t seen worth it by spectators particularly if they can see the race from another vantage point. They can be on the go.
Essentially, everything between 12:15pm and 2pm, is just watching boats and (very few) aerial displays.
Between 1:30pm and 2pm, the races of the Australia Day Regatta begin near Shark Island. This is a 3 hour event and takes up most of the time before Australia Day Live, finishing no later than 5pm at Shark Island. The fact the race course heads east of Shark Island means it is very far away from the rest of the ‘Australia Day In Sydney’ events and crowds aren’t willing to travel kilometres from Circular Quay to an event that can’t watch (and back) because the Regatta takes up tens of square kilometres stretching from Shark Island to Manly meaning there is no other land vantage point worthy of watching the event from than Shark Island, the start & finish line of the Regatta (so there is limited capacity). The fact the event has several races and intersecting courses means watching from the land can be confusing unless you are at Shark Island too.
So naturally, this means between 2pm and 6:30pm can be rather empty on Sydney Harbour on Australia Day.
But the International Fleet Review Spectactular had just ‘boats and planes’ in the afternoon and lots of people watched that? Yes but it had an ‘anchor’ event – the Spectacular at 7:40pm, which was the biggest multi-medium event on Sydney Harbour at the time. People were waiting all day for that. It provided momentum to the fireworks. Australia Day Live, as we detailed before, isn’t that prestigious yet that people will wait hours for it particularly if the entertainment in the meantime is far away or ‘just passing’.
In the morning between the WulgulOra Morning Ceremony & the Salute To Australia phases, the 10 Kilometre Wheelchair Race in The Rocks, held at 9am, provides suitable entertainment between those 2 phases as it gives a worthy reason for crowds to travel from Barangaroo Reserve, where the Ceremony is held, to Circular Quay, where the Salute To Australia phase is roughly based, so whilst they wait for that next phase to begin, there is at least some ‘half-time’ entertainment that they can watch for a while as it is held on a circuit.
So ‘Australia Day In Sydney’ between 12:15pm & 2pm is entertainment that can be done whilst ‘roaming’ whilst after 2pm, it is rather easily ignored and after 5pm, well there is definitely no entertainment until 6:30pm.
What ‘Australia Day In Sydney’ needs to do, along with our earlier suggestion, is to reorganise the day’s events to the best of their ability so that it provides momentum to the fireworks. These events, ideally held in the late afternoon (but preferably held consistently &/or where relevant all day. After all, it is Australia DAY) and located near Bradfield Park, Mary Booth Lookout & Mrs Macquaries Point, would give crowds a reason to wait there for the fireworks for hours and if the fireworks are just as spectacular as this year and the Concert is fixed up so that people aren’t staring at screens for an hour, it may become prestigious enough that people will wait there for the fireworks, watching that newly placed entertainment and thus allowing the fireworks display to get bigger since more vantage points are now being utilised.
It will take time. There is nothing wrong with the ideas of the existing events – the overall program just needs reconfiguring to allow future growth and again, this will take time. At least 2 years. But if it is delayed & thus affects ‘Australia Day In Sydney’ 2020, it may temporarily halt the overall growth or worse, reverse the trend of growth in ‘Australia Day In Sydney’. That would be disappointing and just when things were getting Spectacular! At least it gave us hope that the annual ‘Sydney Spectaculars’ aren’t declining like we recently thought.
And do not forget the other 2 major challenges for the event – the domestic target audience & the date. But we detailed that in our last article…
Anyway, in other news…
Sydney Lunar Festival
Tonight, the Sydney Lunar Festival starts. Formally called the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival, the Sydney Harbour Bridge will be lit in festive red & pink every night during the Festival from 8:15pm until 1am in celebration of the Lunar New Year & The Year Of The Pig. The Festival’s final night is on February the 10th.
It is expected the Sydney Opera House will be illuminated red again for the Festival as per tradition.
A fireworks display will accompany the illuminations turning on for the 1st time during the 2019 festival. To occur between 8pm & 9pm, mostly likely at 8:15pm, the fireworks display occurs somewhere on Sydney Harbour, most likely in Farm Cove & will feature most likely just a single barge. It will feature aerial shell fireworks up to 150 millimetres in size.
Again, this concludes our posts. We may return in December to post if Australia Day Live 2020 is announced to be similar to this year’s (that is, Sydney Opera House fireworks &/or Sydney Harbour Bridge light show)
In the meantime, we will just be adding future event information as it arrives on our site, which we will be refreshing over time.
Also in the meantime, we will continue to work to turn this site into a ‘museum’ of the ‘Sydney Spectaculars’. A new chapter may have just begun with Australia Day Live…
Lastly for your information, here are some known milestones to look forward to this year:
Until 10th February – Sydney Lunar Festival (Sydney Harbour Bridge & Opera House red &/or pink illuminations)
Mid-March – Vivid Sydney 2019 media launch
8:30pm 30 March – Earth Hour (Lights of landmarks are turned off for 1 hour)
We did not think we will be back so soon to writing full posts.
But alas, this will be temporary as this particular event we are going to discuss in this post only gets attention between December & January…mainly January.
That’s right – it’s the event that will be held tomorrow – Australia Day In Sydney.
As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, particularly in our previous post, the ‘Sydney Spectaculars’ (as we like to call them) are in decline. There have been only 2 annual ‘flagship’ Sydney Spectaculars ever:
Sydney New Year’s Eve (1976 to 1986 & 1989 to the present) and
Vivid Sydney (2009 to the present)
The latter is in decline due to attendance beginning to lower due to well the event looking the same and very large crowds (though the latter will likely reduce as the attendance reduces) whilst the former is in decline due to a sudden increase in commercialisation which will, in the future, threat the financing of the event. The commercialisation of Sydney New Year’s Eve will possibly increase even more in this year’s edition.
Coincidentally, Australia Day In Sydney has been the opposite. It has been growing. Here’s the history of, not the date, but the ‘Sydney Spectacular’ side of the day…
On New Year’s Eve (NYE) 1986, a mass murder occurred in The Rocks. This resulted in the cancellation of Sydney NYE as the violence had been growing over the previous 7 years but until then, no murders had occurred.
The cancellation caught Sydneysiders off guard. Seats on NYE cruises were still being sold despite the cancellation being already announced. Suddenly, Sydney had no massive fireworks display & the City pretty much couldn’t cope (figure of speech).
The cancellation was expected to last a few years. Luckily, the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the 1st Fleet was just over a year away so Stephen Hall, the 1986 Sydney NYE director thought ‘Instead of waiting 2 years, why not have 1 giant display on the 26th January 1988 to celebrate the anniversary?’. And that’s what happened:
This was Sydney’s & Australia’s largest fireworks display at the time. It saw the 1st use of the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s upper arch & whilst, in retrospect, you can the technical standards of the Bridge sequence wasn’t as precise and perfect as today, for the time, it was state of the art & left a memorable imprint of the display in the minds of Sydneysiders to this day. Such a imprint that many Sydneysiders consider that display to be bigger than any current Sydney NYE display (I know, right?).
Australia Day In Sydney wasn’t as big after then. Sydney NYE returned the next year & the Bridge returned in 1990 but as part of the NYE display only. I don’t need to tell you all how the history of Sydney NYE evolved from then onwards.
Australia Day In Sydney‘s fireworks displays spread out across Sydney in 1989 to 3 locations: Parramatta, The Domain & Darling Harbour. The latter one grew into the Australia Day Spectacular which lasted until 2017 & became a ‘Sydney Spectacular’ after The Games Of The XXVIIth Olympiad: Sydney 2000. The former two either became a separate event to Australia Day In Sydney or eventually didn’t exist.
In 2014, Australia Day In Sydney re-introduced fireworks on Sydney Harbour for the 1st time since 1988 as part of the P&O cruise ships appearance. This continued until 2016.
Also in 2016, a new nationally-televised concert titled Australia Day – Live At Sydney Opera House was introduced which featured a fireworks display in Circular Quay at it’s conclusion. This was the 1st nationally-televised Australia Day In Sydney fireworks display since 1988 & the most fireworks displays held as part of Australia Day In Sydney (3 – Darling Harbour, Athol Bay (P&O Cruise Ships) & Circular Quay) since 1989.
2017 saw 2 fireworks displays (Darling Harbour & Circular Quay) & the un-eventuated rumour of green & gold projections on the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons & the Sydney Opera House.
2018 saw just Circular Quay fireworks held across 2 simultaneous events, the Australia Day – Live At The Sydney Opera House concert & the new Live At The Quay!. The latter has been combined with the former for tomorrow’s edition (though this was the case pretty much in 2018) with it now called simply Australia Day Live.
No doubt the trend showed fireworks in Sydney Harbour on Australia Day were going to become a more regular and more major occurrence and now we are here, 2019, and is it about to become the 3rd ‘flagship’ ‘Sydney Spectacular’?
As you all know, there have been 2 major changes already announced. Firstly, a change in television broadcaster. The past 3 years have been Network 10, now it is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. And, secondly, the ‘WugulOra Morning Ceremony’ will be broadcast for the 1st time ever. But here are the newest changes this year that could see it make the ‘flagship’ criteria in the next few years:
Radio Broadcasts Return
That’s right. If you are down by the Harbour, 89.3 FM will broadcast the audio soundtracks of both Australia Day Live (from 6:30pm, concert begins at 7:32pm) and Salute To Australia (from 11:30am). However, there is a chance this will include an audio description and thus, is designed for people with impaired vision. The Australia Day In Sydney website does not make this clear. However, it could signal that the event may be about to get large in the future as radio is accessible from many locations. The event is currently restricted to Circular Quay, which isn’t a large enough space deserving of a radio broadcast (except for people with impaired vision). The audio description service may be there to test the waters for future & more larger non-audio description radio broadcasts. You can listen to the soundtracks & audio description online by clicking here.
Lights Seen On The Sydney Harbour Bridge
Vivid-like lights on the Sydney Harbour Bridge appeared 2 nights ago. They were not there the previous nights nor last night & they are not the Sydney NYE lights. They stayed the same purple colour all night. Why? We can only guess. Australia Day Live will feature a light show but we didn’t expect one on the Sydney Harbour Bridge!
We can confirm clearly there will be no fireworks on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Hercules Flare Dispense
The Royal Australian Air Force has confirmed a flare dispense from a Hercules aircraft will occur above the Sydney Harbour Bridge at 8pm tomorrow night.
Could this be an unofficial ‘reenactment’ of sorts of the iconic F-111 flyover that occurred during The Games Of The XXVIIth Olympiad: Sydney 2000 – Closing Night Harbour Spectacular? The only difference being no fireworks – just a light show?
The last time a flare dispense occurred on Sydney Harbour was in 2013 for the International Fleet Review Spectacular and that was just from Squirrel helicopters!
Don’t know what a Hercules aircraft looks like nor what a flare dispense is?
Well here it is (Flare dispenses are usually done to ensure no heat-seeking weaponry is active and/or will strike the aircraft):
Let’s hope it is just as spectacular!
Without a doubt if a light show on the Sydney Harbour Bridge appears tomorrow, Australia Day In Sydney could become a new ‘flagship’ ‘Sydney Spectacular’ in the next few years. The Australia Day Live part of the event will definitely be a ‘flagship’ ‘Sydney Spectacular’ tomorrow if the Sydney Harbour Bridge light show occurs.
TIP: The best vantage point most likely would be the south-western corner of the Sydney Opera House. Thus, allowing you a view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay big screen, performances and fireworks & the Concert (located directly behind at the Sydney Opera House’s Southern Forecourt).
The televisual broadcast of the event will need to be improved as the current version of the event does not rate well due to many factors – most notably the fact that Australians are already at their own local Australia Day event. The concert’s line-up is very repetitive due to the fact that most are former singing contest-reality television winners – they have been seen on television too much. They used the same formula during the XXIst Commonwealth Games: Gold Coast 2018 – Closing Ceremony & look how that turned out. It is no wonder that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s NYE concerts have been successful – it features artists you rarely see on television. The crowds around Circular Quay during the Australia Day Live concert though are large enough for that portion of the event to be rated as a ‘flagship’ ‘Sydney Spectacular’ if the Sydney Harbour Bridge light show occurs during it but not the overall Australia Day In Sydney event …yet.
The overall event still has a low & inconsistent attendance with crowds coming and going throughout the day due to a focus on just the Circular Quay part of Sydney Harbour, events held in many parts of the city and an inconsistent event schedule. You need to always travel when celebrating Australia Day in Sydney. There is no ‘sit down & relax until the fireworks’ like with Sydney NYE which is odd as “sitting down by the Harbour” is quintessentially Australian. Isn’t that what you do on Australia Day then?
Assuming tomorrow’s event is as big as we think it could be, future years could be even bigger. And, if the daytime entertainment is organised in a way that provides momentum to the fireworks, celebrating Australia Day In Sydney may become a ‘must-do’ event.
But there is a problem.
Well, two problems.
If the event gets large, it will only be of interest to Australians unless international audiences still just want to see a large fireworks display or light/projection show on Sydney Harbour once in their lives. Sydney NYE is very universal, which is why we at ‘Sydney Spectaculars’ call it ‘The World’s Party’ whilst Australia Day In Sydney is not. It is a very nationalistic event and that is understandable. Australians are likely to be the only ones wanting to attend. However, 1 strength of Australia is that we are the most successful multicultural country on Earth. If the event focuses on Australia’s growing multiculturalism, it may become a more universal event & be more encouraging for international audiences to visit. It is probably a universal truth that Australians produce the best parties (excluding the XXIst Commonwealth Games: Gold Coast 2018 – Closing Ceremony) so we are very confident Australia Day In Sydney could be as successful as Sydney NYE if done correctly.
As the date of 'Australia Day' is a sensitive issue, if there are any inaccuracies in the section below, just kindly contact us and we will consider your message and rectify anything that we believe makes the below section more historically accurate.
Since 2017, there has been a growing debate on when should Australia Day be held. It is the day when we celebrate Australia. However, there are people who feel the date should be redesignated as it is also the anniversary of when the Indigenous people of the land began to lose their sovereignty due to the arrival of permanent European settlement. We at Sydney Spectaculars pride on historical accuracy so here is the history of the date of Australia Day as far as we are aware.
Since 1901, public holidays in Australia have not been under the control of Australia but the individual Australian states & territories so any change in date must come from each individual state and territory. Australia could place control of public holidays under the Australian Parliament if a constitutional referendum was held to alter the constitution to give the Australian Parliament that power though.
Australia was formed on January 1st 1901 but it was not until the early 1930’s that the States & territories of the Commonwealth Of Australia, one by one, decided to celebrate ‘Australia Day’, a day that celebrates Australia, on the Monday during a long weekend near the 26th January. This meant a previous public holiday of only the state of New South Wales (NSW), called ‘First Landing Day’ or ‘Anniversary Day’ and which was held on exactly the 26th January would be cancelled. That former public holiday celebrated the landing of the 1st Fleet at what is now called Sydney so a clear linkage to the anniversary of the 1st Fleet’s Arrival remained in regards to ‘Australia Day’. ‘First Landing Day’ or ‘Anniversary Day’ was first celebrated in 1818 but it became an annual celebration in 1838.
The date was chosen with that previous public holiday in mind even though the new public holiday was meant to celebrate solely Australia, whose anniversary of it’s creation is January 1st, over 4 weeks prior.
On the 26th January in 1788, the United Kingdom (UK) via Captain Arthur Phillip of the 1st Fleet took possession of the land, which was already home to many Indigenous peoples. The colony of NSW, which was part of the United Kingdom (UK), was not created by Captain Arthur Phillip for nearly another 2 weeks. Nevertheless, the landing of the 1st Fleet at Sydney marked the beginning of a dramatic change in the environment the Indigenous peoples lived in. A change that is still occurring to this day though improvements have been made to rectify certain things (For example, now there are native title claims).
The UK considered the Indigenous population as already ‘British subjects’ (even though the Indigenous population obviously did not know that nor probably did not want to be considered as such anyway at the time) & wanted to establish friendly relations with them but Captain Arthur Phillip did kidnap a few Indigenous people, most notably Bennalong, to ‘establish relations with the overall Indigenous population’ and conflict between the 2 cultures began in the months after the 1st Fleet’s arrival. The arrival of disease dramatically decreased the Indigenous population too though this was accidental. More conflicts & what was later termed, The Stolen Generations, deepened the rift since then though and have prevented the reconciliation between the Indigenous peoples & Australia and the United Kingdom though an apology to The Stolen Generations on behalf of Australia to the Indigenous peoples was issued in 2008.
In 1938, the Indigenous population of Australia called the 26th January a ‘Day Of Mourning’ (because it was the 150th anniversary of the 1st Fleet’s arrival) and from 1988, ‘Invasion Day’. It should be noted that whilst the United Kingdom and later, Australia, always considered the Indigenous population as one of them (that is, British subjects or Australian citizens, despite the Indigenous population not having full citizen/subject rights until the late 1960’s), the Indigenous peoples were & are still ‘separate’ despite living in the same locations or sharing multiple ‘citizenships’ & cultures. Formal recognition of the Indigenous culture & reconciliation between the Indigenous peoples & Australia and the United Kingdom still has to be realised to this day. The United Kingdom formally separated from Australia in 1986. However, they still share the same Monarch, who holds the title of Queen in each country separately.
If there was any doubt about what the date of ‘Australia Day’ symbolised or what the public holiday was celebrating, it was removed in 1988, when all States and territories decided for just that year that ‘Australia Day’ would be celebrated on exactly the 26th January as 1988 was the Bicentenary of the 1st Fleet’s arrival. So this means that evidence shows that as late as 1988 ‘Australia Day’ was celebrated to commemorate the anniversary of the 1st Fleet’s arrival to Sydney rather than Australia.
In 1994, ‘Australia Day’ was moved to exactly the 26th January permanently, most likely for the same reason as the 1988 date change. The only difference being that it wasn’t the 200th anniversary anymore.
Nevertheless, the trend of the past 2 and a half years shows that a shift in when ‘Australia Day’ should be held is occurring. However, for now, it is only occurring in certain places and particularly in the youth population.
The date is currently the greatest threat to ‘Australia Day In Sydney’ becoming a ‘flagship’ ‘Sydney Spectacular’ as public opinion is shifting rapidly. It’s hard to organise an event without knowing which date it is on & if anyone will attend anyway.
It’s probably fate that 26th January (or any date between the 20th January & 7th February, the date the colony of NSW was formally created) will not be the date ‘Australia Day’ will be celebrated on some time in the future. Some people may feel that 26th January is significant, some don’t. Dates mean different things to different people. To be united as 1 country on 1 day, we need to all come together. If the day we are meant to be united as 1 country is the day we are disunited as 1 country, then something is clearly out of place. Understanding, recognition, reconciliation and unity will help Australia decide an alternative date between the 2nd February & 19th January. We all just have to try.
This, along with the multiculturalism focus we spoke of earlier, will allow ‘Australia Day In Sydney’ to become a ‘flagship’ ‘Sydney Spectacular’ without any issues. It will take time but it is on the verge.
As the date of 'Australia Day' is a sensitive issue, if there are any inaccuracies in the section above, just kindly contact us and we will consider your message and rectify anything that we believe makes the above section more historically accurate.