Published: February 24th 2010January 30th 2010
NEW YEAR'S EVE 2009
Although ever so slightly fragile from the previous night we awoke to the 6am alarm and continued with the preparations for the day. From our numerous inquiries we had discovered that in order to get a spot, right at the front, next to the Opera house bar (which is where we had determined the best view was to be had) we would need to arrive at Circular Quay before 8am! We had looked into tickets for the Opera house bar itself, however, they wanted over £100 per person and that included no food, drinks or guaranteed your view!!! The morning was a stressful experience. The place we chose to sit was an alcohol restricted zone and limited numbers. Now, I don't normally flout the rules, however ... over 15hrs sitting on cold, hard concrete with no entertainment except for what we made ourselves, called for just a little assistance!! I am not talking about getting paralytic as many of the people obviously saw NYE as an opportunity for, but merely having a little tipple to enjoy with friends whilst waiting to see in the New Year - indeed, the new decade! After much debate and deliberation we
concluded that all of our backpacks contained a waterproof lining cover, hidden in a special pocket. We estimated that if we decanted vodka into small plastic water bottles and then concealed them into the lining they would not be located!! This process completed we headed off down the street with the rest of the crowds all meandering towards Circular Quay. I was a little apprehensive as we were running 30mins behind plan but as luck would have it, due to the weather being a little cold and dull not as many people had arrived early and as we approached the entry and inspection gates. Derek and Leanne were there waiting. Only problem now, Derek hadn't hidden his vodka and we were on the final approach to the access area. Impressively, like a flash, he wedged the vodka into a spare set of trainers in his bag and pushed his socks over the bottles so it just looked like a trainer with a sock in it ... ingenious!!!
Thankfully we all past the thorough inspection and the five of us made it into Circular Quay firework viewing area complete with over 3 litres of Vodka!!!
Next mission was to
secure a place at the front of the railings! We headed right to the spot planned, overlooking the Opera House Bar (then we could enjoy the Jazz band they had playing later that night without having to pay extra - cheeky I know but practical and money saving!). Our early start paid off and we managed to get a spot right at the front of the railings in what we deemed would be the best place to view the fireworks!!! Halleluiah! Only one thing left to do ... wait 15hrs till it was midnight!!!!!
Vodka successfully smuggled, we were allowed to go in and out of the restricted area for the next two hours or so. With the weather deteriorating every second and having missed my essential morning Cappuccino, Leanne and I set off back into Sydney to locate coffee and umbrellas (just in case!). Somebody must have been looking down on us that day, I reckon it must have been mum, as firstly we got the Vodka in and secondly, we managed to find a souvenir shop without leaving Circular Quay that was selling umbrellas, but more funny than that ... it sold bright yellow ponchos!!! So
for a laugh, Leanne and I bought two umbrellas to shelter Monica, her and me and we bought Paul and Derek a poncho each!!!! (Totally would have been mum's sense of humour!) We thought it was hilarious too!!! We returned to the gang ... they were not as impressed, for obvious style / fashion reasons and because they had reputations to uphold in their home towns!!! Typically when we got back to our prime spot the weather actually improved slightly so we replaced the ponchos back in our backs and secured the umbrellas up on the railings behind us to act as sun blocks!!
The fifteen hours actually flew by. We played games, talked, had the odd little drink of Vodka lemonade (you were allowed to take in soft drinks so we had taken our Eskie full of Coke, Sprite and nibbles to pass the day)!
However, as forecast, at around 11am the heavens did open, Leanne, Monica and I were sheltered by our brolleys but Derek and Paul decided rather than getting soaked and being drenched for the rest of the day they would don the ponchos!!! Look at the photos!! They look like a couple
of gnomes!! SSSSOO CUTE!!
The news in Sydney had promised all revelers that entertainment would commence at 3pm to help pass the time till the kids fireworks at 9pm. Mum would have killed me for using the terminology kids ('what are you talking about baby goats', she used to say!!) However, that is the terminology Sydney used to describe the set of fireworks at 9pm done for the children who would be tucked up in bed by midnight. Unfortunately, the entertainment fell far below the level expected! For instance, at 3pm there was supposed to be a 'fly by' with vintage planes demonstrating there skills. (OK, if anyone has seen the air show at Blackpool you can imagine what we were expecting) when at 3pm two planes so far in the distance that even I could only just make them out flew across the horizon.
“Here they are!!” we shouted,
“Prepare for the entertainment to commence!”
That was the last we saw of the planes!! It was literally a 'fly by'!
This was followed by a cleansing of the harbour by a supposed Aboriginal fishing vessel which to us simply resembled a boat with a hose
suck to the front which made a quick and short circumduction of the harbour before disappearing! We hoped that the poor prelude was just down to Sydney having spent SSSOOO much on the fireworks (Five million Australian Dollars) that they had nothing left for the entertainment!!!
CROWD NUMBERS INCREASE
The day progressed and more and more people filtered into the restricted zone at Circular Quay. When we first arrived, there were only a few people standing on the Opera House Stairs - by two o'clock there were thousands. We all expected that area to be shoulder to shoulder people by eight o'clock, Then at three o'clock, something unexpected happened ... they closed the gates!!!! A speaker announcement stated that the area had reached full capacity and would not be letting anymore people in. We were gob-smacked!!! (In a good way but god-smacked none the less). From the shouts and jeers audible from where we were sitting so were all the others who were still queuing to enter! We had tons of room around us and there were still large gaps on the Opera House Stairs. Sydney council rather than just cramming in as many people as possible had set
a limit and when the limit was reached the gates were closed off, which was fantastic!! It allowed all those people who had made the effort to get up early and were prepared to wait all day for the fireworks to get the space and views they deserved! It justified all the stress and organisation and made the commitment worth it!
We had heard horror stories about people who after waiting for twelve hours were pushed to the back of the crowd! We would not have let that happen to us, but we did not want the hassle of having to fend off attack for our perfect spot, we had been concerned about this all day so far. When the gates were closed it allowed us to relax a little more and just enjoy the day!
From seven o'clock, you could feel the atmosphere starting to build. Everyone chatting more loudly, the music started blasting at the Opera House bar and everybody becoming more and more excited as the time ticked by.
I have to admit it was one of the best atmospheres with such a large gathering that I have ever been a part of.
The atmosphere was electric! Everyone was SO friendly! People were just there to have a good time and see in the new decade.
THE KID'S FIREWORKS
Then came the countdown, signaling the commencement of the kids fireworks at 9am. A huge clock face on the side of the Harbour bridge started to tick down, the yin/yang sign in the centre of the bridge started to spin and when 0 struck an explosion of fireworks was released along the banks of the Harbour. Then from behind the Opera house. Then from the actual bridge itself. Paul was frantically pulling my shoulder, as I turned I could see fireworks being let off from the tops of the tallest buildings in the CBD (Central Business District) as well. We didn't know where to look! There were SO many fireworks. So many different colours and varieties. So many explosions! So much noise and smoke!. Fireworks that just shot up into the air, others like Catherine wheels, others which exploded into starbursts and rained down from the skies. Just indescribably stupendous!!!
Eight minutes later the kids fireworks finished in a huge crescendo.
Silence ... (for a millisecond) ... then cheers and shouts,
applause and euphoria.
And that ... was only the kids!!!!!!
Twelve hours down, now with less than three to go. The atmosphere built and increased till it was like a coiled spring. People poised, watching the bridge in anticipation.
Just to build the atmosphere even further, at ten o'clock writing appeared on the side of the bridge, statements both spiritual and practical in significance, then as quickly as they appeared, they disappeared and a small deluge of fireworks went off along the banks of the Harbour. The same happened at eleven o'clock and then eleven thirty.
Paul and I quickly ran down to the only bar in the restricted area which was allowed to serve drinks, whilst the others held the spot and when we returned the five of us had a glass of bubbly to see in the New Decade!
With ten seconds till midnight the clock in the centre of the bridge started to countdown, as did the clocks projected onto the walls at either side of the bridge. People started to countdown and then the fireworks started (a little before the clock had counted down) but nevertheless, a minor error
and one soon forgotten as the fireworks began to build in intensity and magnificence.
It would be impossible to describe what it was like witnessing such a phenomenal extravagansa and the spine tingling atmosphere enveloping all those who were there and had waited for most of the day in the unpredictable weather for the stroke of midnight but to give you a little idea we have downloaded a video we filmed on the camera just as the fireworks were starting. (Click on the video link to view)
Needless to say the midnight fireworks surpassed the kids fireworks in magnitutude and impressiveness. You probably saw sections of it on the news back home the next day - they had even choreographed the fireworks to music! Then after twelve minutes of jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring and quite deafening fireworks, they ended in the largest crescendo I have ever seen, there were so many explosions and fireworks that it just looked like a huge ball of silver had engulfed the entire bridge and most of the harbour.
Then all that was left was smoke!!
It was only after it was all over that people turned to hug and embrass others around
Opera house again
Look at all the people gathering on the steps in front of the Opera House!
them, prior to that nobody dare even blink for fear of missing a nanosecond of action!!
After a mammoth 15hr wait, it was all over. Fifteen hours waiting for a twelve minute display! But my oh my ... was it worth it!! Definitely! The atmosphere, the fireworks - it was the most prodigious introduction to a new year that I have ever been witness to. Shortly after midnight, slowly but surely, bit by bit the crowds in the Circular Quay restricted area made their way to the exit. Immediately upon leaving the restricted area it was carnage all around - drunk people staggering everywhere, people passed out on the pavements, asleep in doorways or shop fronts. We were walking through knee deep rubbish, crisp packets, fast food wrappers, plastic bags, abandoned umbrellas. It was at that point that I actually understood the alcohol restricted area (OK, so we did take a little alcohol) however, we were sensible and just had a few little drinks throughout the day. In fact we were leaving with much of the Vodka still tucked away. I was really, really relieved that we had not been subjected to the obvious drunken debauchery and ignominious
environment surrounding our perfect Circular Quay bubble - I can just imagine the type of loutish, loud, lairy behaviour facilitated by alcohol over consumption and no doubt all the pushing, shoving and unpleasantries which had occurred outside the restricted zone. Thankfully Sydney's copious restricted or complete alcohol free zones over NYE made for safe, pleasant, family viewing experiences and an experience we will never forget!!
Derek and Leanne said their goodbyes and jumped on the ferry to Manly, whilst Paul, Monica and I started to make our way back to the apartment. The streets were still rammed with people in full party mode, singing, dancing, blowing trumpets etc etc. Then as we turned onto George street, we saw a massive gathering of people standing in the middle of the street. We couldn't tell what was going on but had to walk that way anyway so continued forward. Turns out it was one massive street party! There was a tiny bar on the corner with one lad who was playing the decks (LP's for all you oldies - ha ha!) and all the people who had been making their way home had stopped to have a dance in the street
to his music and the crowd got larger and larger. The music was rocking and the people were too! Older couples doing ballroom type moves, Grans and Grandads with little ones dancing hand in hand, a few young people raving up the lampposts! It was amazing to see such a collective of people just having a really great time with no trouble and no pretentiousness.
Then ... an ambulance siren sounded down the street and the emergency vehicle turned down the party street. I thought there was no way on earth it would be able to get through - there were just so many people in such a small area, nobody could move if they wanted too! Much to my surprise (and I think most peoples) the crowd parted down the middle in a wave of bodies and the ambulance flew through as the people reformed into a crowd behind it, filling the street once again but giving off a HUGE cheer and applause for the ambulance driver - the atmosphere was spine tingling!!!
The end of a great night but the start of a whole new decade ... 2010!
Now just to see what adventures and
amazing escapades this New Year had to offer ...
There are more photos below