Sydney is "waiting for the fireworks"
DARLING HARBOUR was the scene yesterday of an old Sydney ritual called Waiting for the Fireworks. The sun shines. Drums beat. The afternoon ebbs away. Under the Pier Street overpass, an acrobat called Psycho Sam was swallowing long balloons and asking his audience for respect. He meant applause. Darling Harbour was celebrating its 21st birthday. Trees have grown in those years. Cafes have come and gone. Ditto princes and premiers. But celebrations along that stretch of the harbour never change much. They're like the Royal Easter Show with the crowds as the grand parade. It's very Sydney: tawdry and good humoured, happy people making whoopee in a landscape of lost opportunities, a great day for city politicians and scavenging seagulls. Getting it right one day is still the underlying promise. Nothing will budge the monorail but Sega World and McDonald's have disappeared. The hoardings say we're going to get in their place "low rise campus-style office space, a youth theatre, a rejuvenated retail precinct, extensive public space upgrades, innovative new children's playgrounds, and car parking facilities". We're having to curb our excitement. At yesterday's birthday bash it was still a 1.5-hectare hole in the ground. But up and running on the other side of the Urban Stream was the annual MindBodySpirit expo. Entry: $16. The place was jam-packed and mysterious. Several women were sleeping deeply at the Reiki Empowerment Seminar. Some Amazonian berry "as seen on the Oprah Winfrey Show" was being touted as a wonder food. A bloke from the Petersham Assembly of God was offering prayers for passers-by. "Be free," he called rather glumly "from the depression of your life". Outside the sun had sunk further. Families with strollers were heading home. Everyone over 20 was digging in for dark. A few tonnes of gunpowder going off in the air seem to make most things in this city feel right.