On Saturday night we went to watch the spectacle known as “RiverFire” – an annual display of fireworks that kicks off a week long celebration of Brisbane.  Each time I go into the city I become more enamored with it, so I have no reason to question why it should be celebrated.  It has every right to celebrate itself.

Fireworks over the Brisbane river

Fireworks over the Brisbane river

... and from the top of buildings like the Treasury Casino

... and from the top of buildings like the Treasury Casino

The fireworks were spectacular – the launching points were along the river; mostly from one or more of the bridges from what I could fathom, but also off the top of some of the skyscrapers.  So even though we didn’t have a front-row, on-the-bridge spot, we still were surrrounded by fountains of light explosions… In fact, if you were anywhere along the Brisbane River between 7 and 7:30 that night you would’ve had to have been blind and deaf to have missed them!
But of course the Aussies always have to go just that little bit further… not only was there this massive display of choreographed pyrotechnics, but the show was opened with a fighter jet fly-by, sweeping the crowd up in their energy as they pounded over the river at what seemed like building height, with a deafening roar that had small children clinging to their mothers and grown men whooping like little kids.

But that’s not all…!

Because at the end of it all came The Dump and Burn…
The What..?
They’d talked about it (“They” being everyone who’d mentioned RiverFire to us the whole week in the run up to the event) but I didn’t quite understand what they had been getting at, and then I saw it for myself…

After a final, ecstatic burst of fireworks, with a thick cloud of smoke hanging red over the river in the warm night air, an expectant crowd scanned the skies, as quiet as I’ve ever heard a crowd that size.  Until… “There’s one!”  And then, “There’s the other!”.
“Here they come!”

I watched two orange glows advancing quickly out of the smoke towards us.  I tried to photograph, snapped once, then simply watched in amazement the Phoenix above me, trailing a long fiery tail as it roared and climbed into the eerie night sky overhead, it’s own graceful form a dark shadow against the smoky backdrop.  The fighter jets had returned, doing what I believe is a safety thing in the event of having to crash land: they dump their fuel out the back of the plane, and it catches fire so it burns up; that way when the plane crashes there is less chance of it exploding.
Blah – details.  This beautiful thing that I was watching, the fighter jet clearly outlined against the glowing sky, blazing it’s trail, is surely an image I’ll never forget.

And apparently it’s one I’m not likely to see again – someone said these jets are being replaced, and last night was the last time they’ll be doing that.
Unforgettable moments, eh?  Glad I was there.

Oh, and, erm, my deepest apologies but my one attempt at snapping wasn’t terribly successful… as it turns out jet fuel burns rather brightly…

Burning fuel - It's all about the aperture, apparently.  Sorry 'bout that.

Burning fuel - It's all about the aperture, apparently. Sorry 'bout that.

Update…
If you want to see some more successful attempts at capturing this spectacle on camera, go take a look at the website for the Courier Mail – Click the link for “Your Riverfire pictures”, there are some pretty good ones in there.

Plus you can see a great close-up photo and read all about the controversy surrounding this little spectacle here – it’s the feel-gooders vs the do-gooders, methinks!

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