- 8.5 tons of fireworks
- 18 shipping containers of equipment
- Cost to Sydney: $5.78 million
- Money it brings in to Sydney's economy: $133 million
- Expected attendance: 1.6 million people
- Expected worldwide viewing audience: 1+ billion people
- Individual pyrotechnic effects: 100,000
- Length of midnight display: approximately 12 minutes
About 3.5 hours away from us on New Year's Eve, Sydney will be staging a stupendous display of fireworks, with a show at 9 pm for families and one at midnight to usher in 2019. Sydney's world-famous fireworks for the new year began in 1976, and the displays have grown in size and popularity. This year's show will be one of the largest and most technically advanced in the world. Just looking at the numbers is impressive:
Given that the big event only lasts about 12 minutes, I'll be staying comfortably at home this year and watching it on TV. Happy New Year, everyone!
Celebrating Christmas at the hottest time of the year takes a little mental adjustment. Australians parted ways with some of the snowy, cold-weather traditions of the Northern Hemisphere to make the holiday undeniably their own. Here are five ways Australian Christmases differ from ones in the United States.
Australians really know how to make the most of the delightful weather this time of year. Happy holidays, everyone.
As schools here break for the summer, I find myself reflecting on parenting in Australia. In the States, my husband and I fell somewhere in the middle of the parenting spectrum, with helicopter parents at one extreme and free-range advocates on the other. Our daughter rode her bike solo around the small incorporated city where we lived (about 8 miles outside of Washington, D.C.) and often met friends at Starbucks. Other parents were far more cautious, waiting in their cars at the bus stop every morning until their middle-school-age children boarded the bus. Then we came to Canberra. What a difference eighteen months can make!
Before we moved, other American parents who had lived in Australia commented on how much freedom Australian children enjoy. Parenting here is not for the fainthearted—helicopter parents need not apply. Australian parents do not hover.
I sum up the Australian approach to parenting as: manage risk and then keep going. For example, every summer, about 40,000 children here ages 5 to 13 participate in a Nippers swimming program. Started in 1907 after a series of drownings, these classes teach children how to be safe in the ocean rather than just avoid it. They learn to recognize dangers like rip currents, jellyfish, and poisonous stonefish. Parent volunteers help them to navigate big waves, and children are encouraged to rest if they must, but to always keep going. This same pragmatic approach applies to the rest of the natural world: learn the dangers posed by crocodiles and the myriad poisonous animals, insects, and plants native to Australia, and then keep on exploring.
Schools operate much the same way. When our daughter was 13, she went on a school ski trip. When the bus arrived, teachers pointed out the lessons area and different slopes, then told them to be back at the bus in four hours. They were on their own. I could not imagine that happening on a school trip in the States.
In Canberra, students take public buses to and from school. In some cases, the buses have dedicated school routes, but usually students take regular public buses. School-age children commonly take public buses to go shopping, to the library, or to meet their friends. Consequently, my daughter can navigate the public transit system here far better than I can.
Australia’s way of parenting raises strong, confident children, well able to take on the world. We could learn a lot by adopting their approach: manage risk and then just keep on going.
An intriguing book made its way to me in Australia, brought by a visiting friend, who delivered it on behalf of one of her friends because they both thought I’d find it interesting. What a great call!
The book is called The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language. It traces the life of the English language, from its beginnings as a minor German dialect, through the Norman Conquest, and its worldwide expansion through the British empire. The author of the book, Melvyn Bragg, was born October 6, 1939. He is a writer and broadcaster, well known in the United Kingdom. A prolific novel and non-fiction writer, Bragg has also written screenplays for TV and film.
The whole book is a fascinating read as it explains in quirky detail the survival and evolution of English. I was particularly interested in Chapter 21, which talks about how the settlement of Australia affected the English language.
When 723 convicts arrived in what’s now known as Sydney Harbor in 1788, they quickly began to add words to English. The “First Fleet” was sent from England to start a penal colony, and they borrowed words from the indigenous peoples to describe the world around them, such as boomerang, dingo, koala, wallaby, and wombat. The word for Australia’s animal icon— kangaroo—has a murky origin. It either came from the name the indigenous peoples used or it was adapted from the phrase “I don’t understand” in their language, a response to the foreigners who asked what that hopping animal was called.
Other musical words from the indigenous peoples entered the English language, like budgerigar, billabong, and barramundi (a type of bird, pond, and fish). Slang words soon followed. Some came from English dialect (like fair dinkum for fair play or cobber, which meant a friend). Other colorful slang came from the code criminals used (such as swag for loot and croak, which meant to die). Later in the nineteenth century, more slang was added, such as bonzer (excellent) and larrikin (a high-spirited rebel).
Australians also contributed to the language memorable expressions like “as miserable as a bandicoot on a burnt ridge” and “better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick.” One song, “Waltzing Matilda” written by Banjo Patterson, is a staggering collection of Australian slang. Rather than a sweet song about a woman dancing, the phrase “waltzing matilda” refers to hitting the road. The song is about a tramp (a swagman) needing to move on quickly before a farmer and the police catch him.
After I finished reading this book, I reflected that it had traveled around the world, much like the English language itself.
Rose Ciccarelli is an American writer and editor living in Canberra, Australia.