New Year’s Eve 2011 on Sydney Harbour, Australia

Fireworks at Sydney Harbour at 12 midnight, 1 January 2012

Fireworks at Sydney Harbour at 12 midnight, 1 January 2012

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.

Meandering our way out of Long Bay, Cammeray

Meandering our way out of Long Bay, Cammeray

We head out towards Sydney harbour from Tunks park in Cammeray in the north shore of Sydney at about 5pm.

Sailboats in Long Bay, Cammeray

Sailboats in Long Bay, Cammeray

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.

Sailboats in Long Bay, Cammeray

Sailboats in Long Bay, Cammeray

We gently sail past Long Bay towards The Spit in Mosman going under The Spit bridge.

Putting the foot on the pedal

Putting the foot on the pedal

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.

Crowds of people jostling for vantage positions on every corner of the harbour

Crowds of people jostling for vantage positions on every corner 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.

Sailboats on Sydney harbour

Sailboats on Sydney harbour

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.

Sailboat on Sydney harbour

Sailboat on Sydney harbour

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.

Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge simmering in the water

Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge simmering in the water

Some boats are anchored quite close together to the point we can have a chat with the people on other boats.

Roping in some new friends on Sydney harbour

Roping in some new friends on Sydney harbour

Once the anchor is dropped and we settle in, the skipper pops the first bottle of the day.

Skipper Jamie Burns popping the first bottle of bubbly

Skipper Jamie Burns popping the first bottle of bubbly

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.

Smoked salmon roll with onions, cucumber and cherry tomatoes

Smoked salmon roll with onions, cucumber and cherry tomatoes

A smoked salmon roll with a squeeze of lemon, soft fresh bun and some cherry tomatoes is simple and truly satisfying.

Smoked chicken roll with cucumber and cherry tomatoes

Smoked chicken roll with cucumber and cherry tomatoes

A smoked chicken roll and a few beers later, the sun sets behind the Sydney Opera House in the western horizon.

Sunset on what has been a glorious Sydney day, Sydney harbour

Sunset on what has been a glorious Sydney day, Sydney harbour

I love Sydney on a beautiful day when there is not a single cloud in clear blue skies.

A lone seagull flying home at twilight, Sydney harbour

A lone seagull flying home at twilight, Sydney harbour

As twilight beckons, the buildings and Sydney’s skyline begin to illuminate and boats are dotted with lights on board.

Enthisiastic kayakers doing their rounds in Sydney harbour at dusk

Enthisiastic kayakers doing their rounds in Sydney harbour at dusk

Another great way to catch Sydney’s fireworks is to simply get on your kayak and glide all around the harbour.

Enthisiastic kayakers doing their rounds in Sydney harbour at dusk

Enthisiastic kayakers doing their rounds in Sydney harbour at dusk

Some kayak enthusiasts have gone the extra mile by illuminating their kayaks with bright neon colours that glowed brightly in the dark.

Skipper Burns putting his feet up at twilight

Skipper Burns putting his feet up at twilight

As we approached nine o’clock, skipper Jamie Burns puts up his feet and gets into position for the first fireworks display.

Fireworks at Sydney Harbour at 12 midnight, 1 January 2012

Fireworks at Sydney Harbour at 12 midnight, 1 January 2012

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.

Fireworks at Sydney Harbour at 12 midnight, 1 January 2012

Fireworks at Sydney Harbour at 12 midnight, 1 January 2012

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.

Fireworks at Sydney Harbour at 12 midnight, 1 January 2012

Fireworks at Sydney Harbour at 12 midnight, 1 January 2012

Fireworks at Sydney Harbour at 12 midnight, 1 January 2012

Fireworks at Sydney Harbour at 12 midnight, 1 January 2012

Fireworks at Sydney Harbour at 12 midnight, 1 January 2012

Fireworks at Sydney Harbour at 12 midnight, 1 January 2012

Fireworks at Sydney Harbour at 12 midnight, 1 January 2012

Fireworks at Sydney Harbour at 12 midnight, 1 January 2012

Fireworks at Sydney Harbour at 12 midnight, 1 January 2012

Fireworks at Sydney Harbour at 12 midnight, 1 January 2012

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

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39 Responses to New Year’s Eve 2011 on Sydney Harbour, Australia

  1. Jadedlotus says:

    Wow you got some awesome pyrotechnics shots! Thanks for sharing with us. :)

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Jadedlotus,

      Lucky shots since I was also negotiating the rocking motion of the boat and the effects of champagne, wine, beer, scotch and vodka :) :)

  2. This looks absolutely amazing! :D I love all the fireworks, and the bay is a perfect location! When I was small, there always used to be professional fireworks above the little lake just across the street from my parents’ house, so we could watch it from the bedroom window. This was nice because New Years Eve means a lot of teeth chattering over here. ;) I really miss those fireworks.

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Kath,

      I think fireworks is always going to be memorable for children. The NYE fireworks in Sydney is really a big spectacle for both locals and tourists and it’s great they have 2 sessions, the earlier one for young children to enjoy.

      • Aww, that’s so nice they have an earlier fireworks event for younger children! My parents used to put me to sleep and then woke me up at midnight for the fireworks, and one they didn’t and I was furious and unconsolable I’d missed them!

  3. Charles says:

    So beautiful – must be a fantastic experience to be among the first people in the world to welcome the New Year. They show clips of Sidney Harbour every year on TV all over Europe, and I guess the US too… they sure have quite a show. Looks like a wonderful time to do it by boat too! How lovely :)

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Charles,

      I think the state government realizes it’s a spectacle that is shown all around the world and believe it gives a boost to international tourists to come to Sydney so they try to do a great show every year.

  4. heidi says:

    That is lovely! The skies, the fireworks, the food, the bay- thanks for sharing.
    I was in a small town on the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia, where they dress up like cowboys and cowgirls- called the Pony Promenade. The costumes were hilarious, the fun- down home- and the food-mostly fried!
    The next morning the bravest did a Polar pony run into the ocean and then finished it off with a Large mug of chocolate.
    I did not dress up or jump in the ocean, but the hot chocolate was good! :)

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear heidi,

      I’m not sure if I would be brave enough to do the polar pony run into the ocean either but would definitely join you for the hot chocolate! Sometimes, ushering the new year in a small town can be a lot of fun and definitely more personal since you would know more people around you.

  5. Celia says:

    Wow! I’ve never watched the fireworks from the water, but it must be amazing!! Thanks for sharing the experience with us!

  6. I always thought going to look at New Years fireworks will be cold and tough (to keep your spot while you need to go to a bathroom several times), but there are places where it’s nice and warm AND there are lots of space (in the ocean!). This is cool. I wish to celebrate one day in Sydney so we don’t have to wait in a crazy long line to get a hot chocolate (yes I’ve done that before)… Thanks for sharing!

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Nami,

      It was actually quite a cold night on this particular new years eve. People usually go in big groups and set up a picnic spot and there are mobile toilets everywhere so that issue is hardly a problem. It’s more battling the large crowds and the logistics of getting there and back, especially after consuming alcohol! :)

  7. Oh fabulous!! I love the firework from Sydney Harbour. Magnificent.

    Happy New Year :)

  8. What a wonderful way to spend NYE! You got some great photos too!

  9. We have decided to do the boat thing next year – it is so much fun to be with a small group of friends and have fun on the water, and of course having a “designated driver” helps.

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Martyna,

      Now that’s what I call forward planning! :)

      The designated driver is the most important and I’m sure you’re going to have a great time.

  10. It looks like you had a wonderful New Years and with such incredible fireworks. So beautiful. What a nice way to end the year and start the new.

    Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!

  11. Carolyn Jung says:

    What a magical way to usher in a New Year. Wow, I am envious. All I did was cook at home, open some bubbly and watch the ball drop in Times Square. My experience totally pales in comparison. LOL

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Carolyn,

      Watching it in the comforts of your own home has the great advantage like putting your feet up, drinking copious amounts and not having to worry about logistics of getting there and back! :)

  12. Ann says:

    That was AMAZING! What a once-in-a-lifetime spectacular event (for most of us). To spend it on a boat is terrific! Happy New Year!

  13. JasmyneTea says:

    The fireworks were spectacular this year, weren’t they? Especially in my backyard; the fireworks Stephen set up all fell over and started chasing everyone, lol.

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear JasmyneTea,

      I think that was Stephen’s intention in giving everyone a bit of entertainment! I would have done the same and it must have been so much fun! :) :)

  14. Sissi says:

    Happy New Year! I was impatiently waiting for these photos and the post. You have spent an amazing New Year’s Eve. Especially for someone who has always spent it in Europe, in the middle if Winter. It’s so awful to be locked up at someone’s house or a restaurant or another place with a horrible cold outside. Thank you for sharing these unforgettable moments with us!

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Sissi,

      You know when they say the grass is always greener next door. I would love to spend new year’s in a snow laden place, the colder the better, as long as I have a glass of brandy in my hand :)

      • Sissi says:

        You are right about the grass :-) but I also think some people are not made for cold climate… I grew up in a very cold country and now that I live in a rather warm part of Switzerland I never miss the snow nor the cold. It’s out of question for me to go on holidays to a cold European country in Winter.
        There is a famous French singer’s song, where the refrain goes (more or less) like this: “it seems that the poverty is always less painful in the sun”. I always have tears in my eyes when I listen to this old song.

        • Chopinand says:

          I grew up in a hot tropical country so going to a hot and humid place for holidays is less attractive for me although I do love the beach and getting totally suntanned here in summer. So going to a colder and more temperate place is always exciting. I like Sydney because the winters are mild, like a nice summer day in England and snow skiing is great too although it cannot compare with places like Whistler, Aspen and the great European ski countries.

  15. First year in many years that I have missed the Sydney fireworks :( I think we put on the best NYE in the world. Nothing beats being out on the harbour for it! Happy New Year.

    • Chopinand says:

      Dear Sara,

      Not to sound bias, I also do think we put on one of the best NYE fireworks displays in the world. It is certainly a tough act to follow for cities which do not have a beautiful harbour as a backdrop. Have a great 2012!

  16. Wow! What a great way to celebrate new years!!! I can never take great photos of fireworks.

    Happy 2012!!! We had good dinner, tossed 2012 with champagnes and friends!!!

  17. sophia says:

    I’ve been feeling like NYE was so far away…thank you for bringing the freshness of the new year back. I loved the pictures of the fireworks reflecting upon the waters…

  18. A Very Happy New Year to you….
    Beautiful pictures… Loved the firework.

  19. What a great way to celebrate the new year not to mention the fab view!
    Haha love the bright lights on the kayaks, hmm might do that myself for this year’s nye :)

  20. Joanne says:

    It sounds like your new year’s was spent wonderfully! Those firework shots are amazing.

  21. Raymund says:

    You had a really nice new years eve! Good company, food, champagne and fireworks at the harbour on board a boat. Awesome

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