By Mamta Sharma
Campbells Cove, The Rocks
Visitors to Fire Water, a free performance event that incorporates fires, on and around the harbour of Campbells Cove, this year enjoyed an Anglo-Indian adventure for four fiery nights from June 11 to14 2010.
Fire Water 2010 was based on the incredible voyage of a ship named Sydney Cove which was sent to Australia from Calcutta by Australia’s earliest merchant Robert Campbell – of Campbells Cove name. The story of his remarkable journey came alive when told from the point of view of an 11-year-old Indo-Australian girl who was doing a school project to trace her family history using live performance and multi-media to create a theatrical spectacle.
The show included a spellbinding performance on the water with a Bollywood-style spectacle featuring tall ships arriving with a glowing light installation, sailors descending down on aerialist tissus, cranes unloading glowing barrels into the harbour and billows of colorful smoke bursting from the ships in the style of the Indian Holi festival.
Tomo, one of the audience, said, “I loved the colorful dances and the costumes of the artists. It was just the perfect view with Opera house lighted behind and colorful smoke coming out in the waters.”
Impressed with the colorful Indian dance and music performance, she said she would soon plan a visit India and was keen to see its culture and the famous Taj Mahal.
Parminder Singh, who is in Sydney on a vacation with his family and came to watch the show, said, “Bahut acha laga Indian performance dek kar ke videsh mein (It felt really nice to experience the Indian performance away from home.“
“We enjoyed the show and also enhanced our history knowledge a bit,” he added with a smile.
The role of the Indo-Australian girl was played by Vidushi Sharma, a class VIII student of Hornsby Girls School in Sydney while the choreography was done by Peta Strachan and Sharmila Maitra, who runs the Geetanjali School of Dance and Performing Arts, Sydney.
Campbell was a Scottish merchant and partner in Cambell, Clark & Co based in Calcutta, India. In November 1796, the company sent a ship , Sydney Cove, on a speculative commercial voyage in the new colony of Sydney.
Crewed by 10 British seamen, an Indian manservant and 44 Indian sailors, and loaded with rum, pickled pork and other provisions, the ship was wrecked on a small island in Brass Strait (Preservation Island). Luckily, a majority of the crew survived.
In the ensuing couple of months , the crew survived another shipwreck off the Victorian coast and discovered that Van Diemen’s Land( Tasmania ) was separated from the Australian mainland.
The survivors then undertook an arduous 500-kilometre journey and is now regarded as the first recorded European overland trek of the Australia’s east coast.
Fire Water interpreted this remarkable story of the survival through the eyes of a fictious Indian-Australian girl.
Just a few steps away candle-making workshops, delicious food and winter fashion awaited the people at the Fire Water Night Markets which started from 6.30 pm.
The Fire Water was presented by Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority.
By Mamta Sharma