City on fire … alchemy gives festival golden finale

HUNDREDS of thousands of people lined the Brisbane River to witness the most colourful use of the periodic table as the annual Riverfire festival lit up the skies.

Secret mixes of copper, aluminium, sodium chloride, lithium salts and other elements were propelled into the sky, where they exploded in peonies, willows, spiders and fish, marking the finale of the month-long Brisbane Festival.

On the ground, where avid sky gazers benefited from 10 centuries of pyrotechnic knowledge, there was just wonder, even when a slight rain shower set in.

The Super Hornets began the half-hour show with a spectacular streak of fire.

When the Kurilpa Bridge was turned into a fiery waterfall of light, there was a collective gasp from the estimated 450,000 to 500,000 viewers, which could be heard from those enjoying riverside high-rise parties all the way to those lining the arts precinct.

''Whoa,'' a German tourist, Marc Howzan, said. ''I was not expecting that. I'm leaving tomorrow and it's like Brisbane is saying goodbye to me.''

To get the best view, patrons began arriving at South Bank from 11am.

By 2pm, most of the best spots had already been staked out.

''My family staked out this spot at 2pm, I just got here, so lucky me!'' Lynelle Miles said at 6.30pm.

''There were too many people at South Bank even then, so we found this spot [near the arts precinct] and just set up camp,'' Karen Miles said.

There were too many on the CityCats and buses for some, so they rode bikes or walked.

''It is probably the safest night of the year to walk around the city at night,'' Alec Banff said. ''With Parklife [a dance festival] on in the [Botanic] Gardens, all those yokels celebrating or commiserating the AFL grand final and this, the police must be out in force.''

And they were; on the river, around the river and above the river.

But from the first scorching of the sky, all eyes were heaven bound and, it appeared, the spirits of at least half Brisbane's population would stay sky-high as they prepared for a long weekend.

''That was fantastic!'' Alarna Cotton and Brett Hudson said in unison.

''There is so much happening in Brisbane, the city feels really alive,'' Mr Hudson added.

If you have a great picture of Riverfire, send it to scoop@brisbanetimes.com.au 

The story City on fire … alchemy gives festival golden finale first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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