Lunar New Year Lantern Walk with Geraldine and Anusha

An ox, a snake, and a monkey walk into a bar, and… Perhaps I’m not so good at making up jokes about the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, however there was lots of laughter and great conversations held during the Lunar New Year Lantern walk organised by Geraldine and Anusha of Key Into Australia.

The lunar lanterns are a creative, contemporary interpretation of a centuries-old tradition, commissioned by the City of Sydney to many different artists and designers.  There are several theories as to how the lanterns originated, however they all share a common theme of optimism.

Starting at Circular Quay our group of eight followed the trail of lanterns about 3.5km to Haymarket.  We had chosen to go on a weeknight, which was a really good idea to avoid typical weekend crowds so we were able to get up close to the lanterns and take some fantastic photos with barely anyone else in them.  The animals depicted were larger than life and made from different materials in a range of forms.  I had a small personal debate over whether the rabbit was possibly a donkey from the front-on angle, and enjoyed being able to read the nearby signage about the strengths and character of each animal relating to a person’s year of birth.  (The sign confirmed no donkeys exist in the Chinese Zodiac)!

There is something special about walking a city at night, no matter how well you may think you know it by day.  To be honest I’m not that familiar with the CBD so I had no idea where we were most of the time, but it didn’t matter because Geraldine and Anusha were happy to lead the way and told us many interesting things about Sydney landmarks. Other women in the group were also happy to share their knowledge. For example, did you know there is a stone obelisk in Macquarie Place which is of historical significance?  It is the oldest surviving milestone built to mark the very centre of Sydney.  The skyline of Sydney has since changed, but the obelisk was once clearly visible from the ridges above Sydney Cove, the front of Government House and the North Shore.

A few hours and many photographs later, conversations turned towards supper and for some of us the possiblity of heading home.  Upon checking my phone I was surprised to find that it was 10pm already.  Time truly does fly at Key Into Australia events, since we are always having fun!

The year of the ox symbolises prosperity, resilience, good health, strength, and persistence.  May the Lunar New Year bring you each of these blessings.

Written by Penelope Smith
Key Into Australia, 16 February 2021

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