An Evening in New Sydney City

With a couple more hours of sunlight left, I found myself in the hustle and buzzle of a city workforce rushing home, transients just arriving and yet others in neither mode. Business souls, holiday makers and family groups may have to reckon what can they do in such an odd and yet interesting time, before shops shut up, the moon comes up and the city centre reverts to another world?

Many in Asia may not find it a big deal, but having a major department store extend its opening hours to 7pm in Australia is, on any day. After work hours, I can glide into watching people watch goods on display, of having that leisurely time to scout for things that I may or do not really need. This can pace the rush at suburban stations, compared to situations when suddenly there is nothing much else to do in the city, except directly go home. However, shopping, cinemas, food and arcades themselves are not that sufficiently attractive to retain a lively presence after hours in a world class city. There needs to be more.

Maybe it is the prelude to exclusive events, where you make eager beavers hype up the mood and atmosphere by making them queue outside a night club at King Street Wharf, or even in a cause-related screening of the latest re-make of A Christmas Carol at the Imax Darling Harbour. It can be the lighting up of the three storey high indoor Christmas tree at the QVB Building, as this year's snow-flake white theme is free for all to see until the building closes its doors at midnight. It may be the creation of focus spaces, each with varying themes on different evenings, whether linked to dance, romance, tempo or graphics.

When the heat dissipates, everyone feels - and looks - better. Sydney thrives on the outdoors, and how else can it get better when you connect the moonlight, the harbour breeze and the relaxing atmosphere. Why can't there be structured walks along alleyways, heritage buildings and performance spaces - it does not have to be only on the Harbour Bridge, by the ocean cliffs or in bush trails. Do things have to be centred around food? It can be activities based on health, hobbies or collective building.

The new Sydney has to reveal its soul in more humane, softer and passionate ways. Commercialism alone will not sustain the attractiveness nor vibrancy of a community. The place already has variety, disorderliness and surprise - bring in good ideas as well. Make transients and visitors want to stay longer, overnight and more.

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