On Saturday the streets of Katoomba were crammed as thousands of revellers ignored the cold to enjoy the Winter Magic Festival.
The festival to mark the Winter Solstice has its roots in pagan traditions but attracts a broad mix of people from the local community and beyond.
In the street parade there were children dressed as Chinese dragons and adults dressed as cartoon characters. There were belly dancers, drumming troops, and taekwondo teams. There were people in white make up and black coats, with sour expressions, who may or may not have been in fancy dress.
Stalls lined the street, selling kebabs and crystals, second-hand clothes and new age wisdom. Dozens of bands provided free entertainment for the crowds.
“It’s fun, excitement, colour, movement,” Captain America told Sydney Outsider. “It’s great for kids to come out with their families and see what the mountains is all about, embrace our culture, embrace our lifestyle.
“It’s a very inclusive and diverse community. There’s no rat race, no smog, it’s just a wonderful place for families to be.”
Kaiser Wilhelm said it was a day when adults could show children the power of their own imagination. “It has not been lost,” said the Kaiser. “It is there and it’s an undiscovered country, and if they look close enough and hard enough they will find adventure.”
Inside the Carrington Hotel where the Red Lantern Ball would be held Cloud Strife explained, “It’s like a little mini Mardi Gras where everything goes, and it’s all accepted and everyone is happy, and there’s no beatings or stabbing or bashings.”
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The Sydney sold in tourism ads is one of golden beaches, blue skies and a sparkling harbour. In a series of noirish photographs Christian Ferreiro, a graphic designer, has captured an altogether different place.
On a narrow street in Newtown a giant dog towers above the traffic. Passers-by double take at the massive sculpture. Cars slow down as they pass the trailer it sits on, and come to a stop as drivers stare.