Thanks to my connection through Rotary to one of the organizers of the International Fleet Review, I felt like I had special inside knowledge about the event months before the publicity came out. The International Fleet Review ran October 3-11 in Sydney to commemorate 100 years since the first Royal Australian Navy ships entered Sydney Harbour on October 4, 1913. It was the biggest event in Sydney since the 2000 Olympics!
The celebration included 17 historical tall ships entering the harbour on the first day of the celebration, followed by more than 40 warships sent by countries around the world entered the harbour on the second day. Even Prince Harry made a 24-hour trip to Sydney to participate in the formal ceremonial fleet review. I’m not sure what happened in his schedule, but somehow we just couldn’t connect for afternoon tea. Next time, I reckon.
But what I was most excited about was the fireworks and light display on the harbour. In the style of the International Fleet Review, the planned fireworks were the largest display in Sydney in more than 25 years. So think about that: we’re talking bigger display than New Year’s Eve! Talk about a good time to be in living in Sydney!
With a group of friends, we picnicked at Mrs. MacQuarie’s point before the fireworks.
The display was more than I had imagined — and I’d been imagining this for months! The fireworks, which were set off from rooftops, barges along the harbour, decks of Royal Australian Navy ships, and even from the Harbour Bridge, were choreographed to music and a light display on both sides of the Opera House. (My favorites were the fireworks from the bottom of the Harbour Bridge.)
As I watched, I couldn’t help but feel pride to be part of not only the event, but part of this beautiful, warm, and welcoming country. Australia offers so much to those who arrive, encourages a healthy lifestyle, provides many opportunities to get outside or to get involved with the community, supports education, and promotes work-life balance. What was interesting is that all of us watching the fireworks (and only one was Australian), felt the same pride in being in Australia. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to be studying in this marvelous country!