Down-sized but definitely not out: the Alice Desert Festival sprang into life last night with the opening night parade restored to its joyful role in Alice Springs street life, bringing together all parts of the community. The evening was warm and filled with the scent of flowering white cedars. People young and old, but especially those with little children, arrived in the mall from all directions to the sounds of a brass band drifting on the breeze.
Town Cryer David Mortimer was at the head, his bell chiming in with the Balkan-style music. Cameras were snapping as the carnivale atmosphere took over – feathered costumes, oriental masks, cabaret glamour, kids on wheels, dancers on stilts, the beating of drums, all signalling the events to come over the next five days.
Bringing up the rear was a set of clapped out desert wheels made famous by the television series Bush Mechanics. There was water on hand for the smoking engine – the car had already broken down three times – but in the end it gave up all together. With plenty of revelers on hand to get it off the road, it was all good publicity for the live show in which it will feature as part of the Mbantua Festival in October.
– Kieran Finnane