The annual new year’s eve celebration has become a big business for the state of New South Wales and the city of Sydney.
Set upon beautiful Sydney harbour with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House as iconic landmarks, the city throws down the gauntlet for other cities around the world. Being one of the first few cities in the world to usher in the new year, the fireworks display sets the tone and standard for other international cities. It is definitely a tough act to emulate the beauty of Sydney’s bays, islands and natural seascapes.
Each year, approximately two million people will descend onto the public parks and nature strips around the harbour precinct, some setting up picnic camps to reserve a favourite spot as early as the morning of 30 December. Costing A$6 million this year for the fifteen-minute fireworks display, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore declares this amount as a small investment to boost tourism and to further perpetuate the annual ritual of celebrating new year’s eve in and around the harbour city.
The theme for New Years Eve 2011 is Time to Dream. Headed by Marc Newson, being one of the most influential designers of his generation, the event promises locals and tourists alike to be an awesome spectacle as it has been over so many years. Of course the showcase of the event is the two fireworks display, one at 9pm to cater for young families and their children and the piece de resistance at twelve midnight.
This fireworks display has become more elaborate with each new year trying to outdo the year before. This year is no different where a purported 80 tonnes of fireworks and 70km of intricate wiring will be linked up by a computer programme where the display will also be syncronised with music to be aired all around Sydney harbour.
Each year, hundreds of boating enthusiasts and party revellers would clamour onto sail boats and head to the harbour, jostling for vantage points to watch the fireworks display. We have decided to do the same this year and have packed baskets full of food and drinks.
We head out towards Sydney harbour from Tunks park in Cammeray in the north shore of Sydney at about 5pm.
The start of the day is overcast and we are praying for some sunshine. By mid afternoon, our prayers have been answered and Sydney puts on its usual perfect sunny day which we have come to take almost for granted.
We gently sail past Long Bay towards The Spit in Mosman going under The Spit bridge.
Once we are out at open sea, our skipper Jamie Burns puts the pedal down and the boat roars past Mosman bay and towards the eastern side of the harbour.
As we take our position and drop anchor, we see the hundreds of thousands of people already gathered all around the habour.
The most popular spots like Cremorne Point, Lavendar Bay, North Sydney, Watsons Bay, Rushcutters Bay, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair at Farm Cove just to name a few have been inundated with revellers eager to usher in the new year with family picnics and just enjoying the sunshine and outdoors.
It has turned out to be the perfect Sydney day to take the boat out. The water is simmering and the air is filled with anticipation where people on their boats are popping champagne and grazing all afternoon.
Some boats are anchored quite close together to the point we can have a chat with the people on other boats.
Once the anchor is dropped and we settle in, the skipper pops the first bottle of the day.
As we sip our champagne and beers, we munch on smoked salmon, smoked chicken, cooked prawns, oysters, crackers, ham, cheese, grapes, cherries and strawberries. It just seems quintessential Sydney to have fresh seafood during Christmas and the new year.
A smoked salmon roll with a squeeze of lemon, soft fresh bun and some cherry tomatoes is simple and truly satisfying.
A smoked chicken roll and a few beers later, the sun sets behind the Sydney Opera House in the western horizon.
I love Sydney on a beautiful day when there is not a single cloud in clear blue skies.
As twilight beckons, the buildings and Sydney’s skyline begin to illuminate and boats are dotted with lights on board.
Another great way to catch Sydney’s fireworks is to simply get on your kayak and glide all around the harbour.
Some kayak enthusiasts have gone the extra mile by illuminating their kayaks with bright neon colours that glowed brightly in the dark.
As we approached nine o’clock, skipper Jamie Burns puts up his feet and gets into position for the first fireworks display.
A large countdown billboard hangs on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and right on nine o’clock, the Sydney skies light up to the gasps and breath-taking cheers of revellers.
Barges from which the fireworks are launched were located at strategic positions around the harbour to give revellers a view from most areas and popular spots around the harbour.
There is a 3-hour wait to midnight after the nine o’clock display and during this time, revellers on boats are drinking, dancing and eagerly awaiting to usher in the new year. And at the stroke of midnight, the Sydney skies came alive again for the second time with colours and patterns which are nothing short of spectacular.
A big thank you to skipper Burns and a happy new year to all our readers. Here’s wishing you all a great 2012!
So dear readers, what did you do for new year’s eve 2011?
For more information about Sydney New Years Eve, visit the official website at www.sydneynewyearseve.com