In the style of a live Bollywood production and framed by the magnificent backdrop of the Sydney Opera House and Campbell Cove, Fire Water is the modern retelling of the brave voyage of merchant Robert Campbell’s tall ship in 1797 (less than ten years after Australia was colonised). Told through the eyes of an 11 year old Indian-Australian girl via a FaceBook video projection, the story details the arduous journey from Calcutta of a vessel laden with 30,000 litres of rum and food shipwrecked 500 kilometres from Sydney.
Recreated on the harbour, the theatrical display highlights the dangerous overland journey the crew make from their shipwrecked craft to Sydney through pop-up characters, before returning to their vessel with assistance.
To thunderous orchestral music, the finale sees the hauntingly lit ship enter Sydney Cove, sailors acrobatically descending ropes and barrels of the precious liquid being joyously offloaded to the shore. Colourful smoke billows from the ship in the style of a modern day Indian festival.
Entertainers in strange outfits stroll the harbour foreshore, delighting youngsters with their colourful outfits and strange antics.
Fire Water is one part of a month long festival in Sydney, now in its second year. The Vivid Sydney festival features a program of events including the dazzling lighting of Sydney Opera House sails in an ever-changing array of abstract patterns (see 2009 Opera House lighting photos),a concert for dogs and the celebration in lights of Australia’s most significant early governor, Lachlan Macquarie, who started his eleven year reign two hundred years ago (see Macquarie Visions).
With the crowds out on the days I visited the various events, I suspect that Vivid Sydney is likely to be around for a while.