I have just celebrated New Years in Sydney, a first for me despite having visited the city many times over the years. I didn’t really know what I was in for but I was here and I wasn’t going to miss out on the celebrations!
A friend and I decided to do it together but neither of us really knew what we were doing so we decided to meet in the city at midday. We both did a bit of research before hand and I found the official website really helpful. There were free and ticketed locations with most of the ticketed locations sold out. With the free locations it was recommended that you get there early. I heard that some people set up camp the night before at Blues Point Reserve, that is dedication! The best spots for the evening I think would have been on the harbor cruises but these were pricey averaging about $600 a ticket for 6-7 hours on the harbor. Not all but most were inclusive of food and beverages. So plenty of options to enjoy the celebrations.
Before getting to the city I checked out what was happening on the North side of the bridge. I got off the train at Milson’s Point and headed into Bradfield Park, one of the free locations the city had to offer. People had started setting up with small campsites, tents for shade and plenty of supplies. Most vantage points had alcohol bans and this was one of them so very family friendly. This would be a great location to spend the day and evening with a group as long as you didn’t leave it much past midday to get a good spot.
From Milson’s Point I headed across the harbor by ferry to Circular Quay. It was near here that I met my friend and it was getting pretty busy by this point. We headed towards the Opera House but there was a long line waiting to get in so we thought it would be smarter to try getting into the Botanical Gardens somewhere. We were wrong! We ended up joining a queue to get down to The Point by Mrs Macquaries Chair and it took four hours to get in the gate. Thankfully it was not a hot day as there was no shade and even with sunscreen on I got a little sun burnt.
It was around 4.30pm when we got through the gates. Security was checking all bags and no liquids were allowed, even water had to be tipped out. And there was no water fountains that we found on the inside although there were taps near the toilets but no signs to say if the water was safe for drinking. People were only using them to wash their hands. Once this location hit capacity of about 14,500 the gates were closed, this happened around 6pm I believe. This was a good number of people, it was packed around the best viewing spots but over the whole area there was plenty of room to move about.
We found our spot right down at the point and settled in for the evening. It turned out this location was one of the only three selling alcohol, which we didn’t realise until we arrived, so we treated ourselves to a bottle of bubbles for AU$40. Beer and cider was about AU$8. There were plenty of food trucks but you were also allowed to bring in all the snacks you liked, just not any liquids. This was not location full of families, hardly any kids about. It was mostly full of young people and hardly an Australian accent heard here the whole night. It was a nice surprise to find this park has loads of bats that came out at dark, they were large bats! We also got a fright when a fat possum dropped out of the tree in front of us, the poor thing didn’t know where to go with all the people around.
This park has trees every where so good viewing spots were very few. It turned out not too bad though, when it came to watch the fireworks it wasn’t too difficult to find a good standing spot and snuggle in with the crowd. There were some air displays before dark which were pretty cool and the first round of fireworks was at 9pm and went for 8 minutes. This display alone was pretty impressive! There was no fireworks from the bridge with this display but there were several spots along the harbor that the fireworks was going off from. It was surprising how fast time went and before long we were counting down to midnight. As well as the spots on the harbour the bridge was also going delighting us with bangs and sparkles. This display went on for nearly 12 minutes!
I am so glad I was able to spend New Years in Sydney with the rest of the 1.6 million people. I was prepared for chaos and crowds but my expectations were exceeded. The city of Sydney put on such a well organised event. There were volunteer ambassadors everywhere ready to give advice and answer questions. The police presence was strong with cops on foot, bikes horses, boats and helicopters. The transport appeared to run smoothly and people showed patience and courtesy moving around the city.
On a world scale I can see why Sydney is an iconic New Year location. This city really knows how to put fantastic celebrations. I hope wherever you are you also enjoyed seeing in the New Year and I wish you all the best for 2018!