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Celebrate Australia Day with the Great Ferry Race, The Australia Day Parade, Tall Ships, RAAF precision flying display, Australia Day Regatta (world’s oldest continuously held yacht race) or in the evening Jazz On The Water, the Best Dressed Vessel Competition and the Australia Day Fireworks display. There is a whole day and evening of celebration on Sydney Harbour and we will be right in the middle of the best place to party – Sydney Harbour where the atmosphere is infectious!
Our first activity on Australia Day is the Great Ferry Race aptly named the “Ferrython”. The “First Fleet” class of ferries that normally provide commuter transport on Sydney’s beautiful waterways have been decorated from the waterline to the funnel (and beyond with streamers), transforming these working vessels to “party participants”! The race begins adjacent to the Sydney Opera House. Once the ancient cannon on Fort Denison is fired signalling the beginning of one of Sydney Harbours most exciting events, the “armada” of spectator vessels (literally hundreds and hundreds of craft including us) surges forward to keep up with these colourfully clad, normally “staid workhorses”! The course of the race takes the ferries in an easterly direction to Rose Bay before turning back towards the City. There is much glory for the skipper of the victorious ferry in this event, so you can see “every trick in the book” including smoke screens as the ferries race toward the finish line under the Harbour Bridge.
Soon after the conclusion of the “Ferrython” and almost before the excitement has died down, we will make our way to the assembly point for the Australia Day Parade to the north east of the Governor Generals Official Residence at Kirribilli.
In 2014, the Australia Day Council gave Sydney Sundancer the honour of leading the Australia Day Parade around the Sydney Harbour Foreshore. A flotilla of vessels, colourfully decorated in fancy dress will follow in single file from Kirribilli to McMahon’s Point before heading southward towards Walsh Bay then proceeding east towards the Sydney Opera House before entering Farm Cove and exiting at Mrs Macquarie’s Point en route to Athol Bay to participate in the Australia Day Best Dressed Vessel Competition (which Sydney Sundancer has won on 8 occasions).
Each Australia Day, we decorate Sydney Sundancer with hundreds of flags in Australia’s sporting colours GREEN & GOLD as a tribute to our fantastic “Aussie” sportsmen and women who have made us proud over the years. When we pass close to the waterfront, the camaraderie established between those aboard the decorated vessels and the spectators on the waterfront is amazing. People in the Kirribilli waterfront apartment blocks crowded onto their balconies and on the lawns fronting the Harbour to cheer our decorations. As we passed under the Harbour Bridge, spectators waved in unison with our crew as our gigantic inflatable “Aussie hands with pointing finger” swayed to & fro as we sang “Waltzing Matilda”. However, we were overwhelmed by spectator reaction as we passed The Opera House ! At the time, we had Peter Allen’s anthem “I still call Australia Home” booming out from our yachts speakers mounted on our masts. My crew, who were lined along our deck had practiced a “song & dance routine” that involved a “Mexican Wave” effect which when performed in front of the assembled waterfront crowd as we cruised bye, created a deafening cheer of approval. At the conclusion of “I still call Australia Home”, we chanted Aussie Aussie Aussie and were greeted by the traditional return of approval Oui Oui Oui.
The 2014 Australia Day Parade gave waterfront spectators the first opportunity to view the efforts of Sydney’s boating community to decorate their vessels in an organised way, and John Boyce skipper of Sydney Sundancer has a plan whereby those on the waterfront can participate in this event by voting for the Champion Vessel Australia Day Parade 2015. By voting for the Best Aussie Theme (decorated boat) as the flotilla passes, the waterfront spectators can nominate their favourite vessel in much the same way that viewers vote for their favourite participant in popular television shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and “So you think you can Dance” ! John has lots of helpful hints for anyone thinking of dressing their boats for this fantastic Australia Day activity so please email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Until the Australia Day Council has posted the official agenda of activities, I can only list highlights of previous Australia Day activities which include the following :
Witnessing a colourful airborne display as our champion pilots from the RAAF perform precision flying and daring manoeuvres just above the top of our yacht’s mast. Aeroplanes swoop down towards the harbour and action is so close above us that you can almost see a smile on the pilots face as he lines up for the next manoeuvre. .
A “search and rescue” display, where helicopters simulate the rescue of sailors from the storm in the ill-fated 1999 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. Rescue flares locate the person in the water and they will be subsequently winched to safety aboard a helicopter.
Members of the Red Berets , the Army elite Parachute regiment splash down into Circular quay.
In complete contrast to the air borne action of the modern day, we will be presented with historic sailing vessels – Sydney’s fleet of Tall Ships, all decked out in their finest regalia. These majestic vessels, from a bygone era, parade past the Opera House and along the foreshores to take up their position on the starting line for a more sedate race – under sail. It is wonderful to see these “grand ladies” with almost half their crew aloft (hanging from the yardarms, some more than 100 ft or 30 meters above the deck) set their sails to harness the wind just the way Captain Cook did more than 200 years ago. This is not the “heart racing” excitement of the “Ferrython” but for those who appreciate witnessing historic action, it will be the closest most of us will get to being alongside a vessel, the likes of which are seen in Johnny Depp’s movies : Pirates of the Caribbean.
Late in the afternoon, we will be on the finishing line for the Australia Day Regatta (the worlds’ longest continuously held yachting event), so we can cheer the winners of each class and division. You can expect to see ocean racing yachts that will have returned from Hobart, and Harbour racing yachts that regularly compete on weekends as well as our own 18 foot skiffs (reputed to be the worlds’ fastest monohull), all finishing their race in the vicinity of the Opera House.
That is what everyone remembers about the evening on Australia Day, but the evening cruise is more than that!! We will enjoy a fabulous Jazz festival where music is broadcast to the armada of spectator boats from giant loud speakers, while the band is on the waters edge at Pyrmont Park adjacent to the anchored fleet. Great jazz is followed by spectacular fireworks from Darling Harbour. When the fireworks are matched to Advance Australia Fair the feeling of pride and mateship is incredible.
“After dark our giant birthday banner (hung high between Sydney Sundancer’s towering masts) featuring a 2 metre upturned champagne bottle and champagne glasses outlined in fairy lights form a “ghost like party mirage” in the middle of the fleet of the vessels at anchor.”
We will be conducting two cruises on Australia Day. The first departs from Rose Bay ferry wharf at 10.30am , returning about 4pm (please be on the wharf 15 minutes prior to departure and remember parking will be difficult anywhere near the waterfront). The evening cruise departs at 4.30pm from Rose Bay ferry wharf returning to there about 10pm.
There are just so many exciting activities in which to participate that most charter vessels charge a very high premium for the occasion (some more than double our price) but we want to share this great day with our fellow “Aussie’s” so we have kept the price to a low $140 per person for each cruise (which is the same price as last year). We are able to keep the cost of both cruises low because we ask you to join in the spirit of Australia Day and bring your own picnic and drinks.
It is strictly first come first served for these special Australia Day cruises, and there is always a long waiting list, so if you would like to join us, either email email@example.com or phone to book (telephone 02 9719 1870), as delays will surely lead to disappointment.
© Sydney Sundancer Gladesville Bridge Marina 1/380 Victoria Place, Drummoyne, NSW 2047 AUSTRALIA
Telephone: (02) 9719 1870 International: +612 9719 1870
Mobile: 0428 311 941 After Hours: (02) 9719 1870
Fax: (02) 9719 8823 International: +612 9719 8823
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