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2 corrections, most recently by Rhonda.M - Show corrections

THE SCENE FROM FORT MACQUARIE.        

Somehow or other, whenever we celebrate any great  

national event in Sydney, we always fall back on the har- bour as a means of display, and take special pride in setting off her wondrous beauties by artificial illuminations. We may wander away, as we occasionally do, into other paths, and hold celebrations of various kinds, but eventually we always come back to our old love, Port Jackson, where the heart of the Sydney people really is, finding that, after all, our Jubilee or Centennial rejoicings are not complete unless the harbour is included in them. There are many   points of view ,on the harbour from which such an illumination as was given last night may be advantageously seen, but probably the best point is Fort Macquarie, which from its peculiar position, jutting as it does right into the centre of the harbour, enables spectators stationed there to command an unequalled all-round view of whatever is going on. Hence, as the public are fully aware of this fact, it come about that Fort Mac- quarie was very largely availed of by sight-seers, and even before dusk set in crowds of people found their way thither, anxious no doubt to obtain a good place. As the light in the west gradually faded away, and the lights on the opposite shore and on the shipping in the harbour began to show forth, so the crowd gradually increased, until by 8 o'clock almost every inch of the level space of ground in front of the Fort was occupied. The crowd was a good-natured one, partaking more of the character of a private than of a public gathering, and the people seated themselves quietly on the smooth grass, awaiting with exemplary patience the com- mencement of operations. The wind was fresh and cool from the N.E., and the night was dark and slightly overcast, so that all the conditions for the display were ex- tremely favourable. The first warning note of the approach- ing illumination was given by the ambitious crew of a small boat near the Fort, who let off several very ineffectual squibs, to the intense delight of the crowd, many of whom imagined the display to be of an official character. The assemblage now began to stir itself into agitation, and those in front were forcibly and earnestly adjured to sit down, so that those in the rear might have a chance to see what was going on. By this time the crowd extended right away round to the Botanical Gardens, and along the Tarpeian Way, every place from which a sight of the harbour could be be obtained being occupied. A band stationed somewhere in the rear in Fort

Macquarie could be faintly heard against the strong N.E. breeze, playing stirring airs, and so the time wore on, until at last, after much patient waiting, the crowd were re- warded by the commencement of the illuminations. The ball was opened at Fort Denison, which hitherto had been only distinguishable by the red light which marks the spot, but now a flight of aerial shells, sending forth as they burst wondrously variegated showers of coloured stars, illuminated the whole of the centre of the harbour. Kir- ribilli Point opposite followed suit, and then Fort Mac- quarie itself commenced the disohargo of these shells, until at last the spectators on the point hardly know which way to look in order to obtain the best vision of the display. One peculiarity of Fort Macquarie as a point of view was that it was impossible to see the displays from each of the three points - Kirribilli,

Fort Denison, and Fort Macquarie at once. Thus a

peculiar perplexity of enjoyment arose, as no sooner was attention attracted by some splendid discharge across the harbour, than another explosion behind caused everyone to turn around in order to see the shower of rockets and stars sent up behind them. For some time the splendid effects produced were watched in a state of suppressed rapture shown only by the occasional " ahs " and " ohs"   which broke from the lips of the more enthusiastic amongst the otherwise silent crowd. The rockets and   stars, and other wonderful aerial fireworks ceased for a moment, and then far away across the dark harbour a sudden light shot up, which developed into a brilliant row of white and coloured lights, illuminating the rugged outlines of Fort Denison, and casting them into relief against     the dark background. Fort Macquarie, and the Inner Domain, and then Kirribilli were lit up in the same way, the lights constimth changing from white to red or green. The splendid effect produced by these three points of bril- liancy, lighting up the dark space of the harbour waters between, was added to by the sudden illumination of the numerous fleet of men-of-war lying in Farm Cove, the presence of which, as they lay hidden in the darkness, had hitherto been almost unnoticed. Each mast and yard         almost simultaneously outlined by means of white lights at the yard arms afterwards changing     to red, an then a number of rockets were sent up by the men-of-war, which however made but a poor show after Mr Pain's triumphs of the pyrotechnical art. The men-of-war having faded away into darkness, more       rockets, aerial guns, &c., of every variety of colour and   effect, were sent up from each of the three points of main display. It was but a poor night for the stars of heaven, which, though shining much the same as usual,     quite eclipsed by the many-coloured stars shed forth from the bursting rockets. Perhaps the most beautiful effect of   all during the display was that produced by the illumi- nated smoke from the rockets and stars, which drifted away before the breeze across the dark sky, assuming as it   passed overhead infinitely quaint and fantastic shapes. The  

men-of-war were once more illuminated, and the coloured

lights again exhibited from the shore, a different effect   being produced each time by a skilful variation of the

colours; and then some magnificent showers of rockets

of all kinds foreshadowed the termination of the display, which by this time had lasted nearly an hour. The spec- tutors were almost, if it be allowable to say so, satiated with the wonderful beauties of the scene, and the eye refused to take in, or the brain to appreciate, any more of the startling combinations of form and colour which they had been wit- nessing for the last hour. It was therefore hardly with a     feeling of regret that they heard the last detonations of the aerial guns which announced the termination of the dis- play and took their hasty departure from the spot where during the last hour they had stood almost entranced wit- nessing a scene which for picturesque effect has been but

seldom equalled.

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by

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