Smoke On The Water: New Year’s Eve 2012 On Sydney Harbour


NYE2012x1629LO

For once, I’ll be relatively succinct. I’ve spent a couple of New Year’s Eves shoulder-to-shoulder with the hordes cramming the shores of Sydney Harbour and vowed never to do it again. In 2012, it was a case of “never say never”.

It must be said there are many better uses for $5 million than sending it high into the air where it explodes noisily in bright colours. But nobody asks me. So each year, NYE dutifully rolls around and more than one million Sydneysiders and visitors stake out their places around the edges of the Harbour at first light and wait through the day for darkness to fall and the bread and circuses to begin.

There are two rounds of fireworks – at 9pm, ostensibly for families, and midnight. Seven fireworks barges are anchored along the harbor with other pyrotechnic units on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and several office buildings at Circular Quay.

Sydney Harbour Bridge and crwods at East Circular Quay
Sydney Harbour Bridge and crowds at East Circular Quay

For the more sensible, the television coverage, beamed around the world, offers a distinctly better vantage point. What it lacks is the sweaty, crowded, intoxicating bonhomie of sharing the moment with countless others, oohing and aahing as the explosions rattle the bones and the night sky is stitched with light. They probably said the same thing about the Western Front.

The A-listers party at the Sydney Opera House, amongst celebrities, politicians and the beautiful and connected. At Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and the Botanic Gardens, a canapés’ throw away, ordinary folk do exactly the same thing but without the French champagne or, in fact, any alcohol of any kind.

The police had closed off Circular Quay and The Rocks by early afternoon, when it was deemed to have reached capacity, and BYO alcohol was not allowed in although hotels, restaurants and numerous food stalls were operating.

Cheek-to-cheek revellers
Cheek-to-cheek revellers

While Northern Hemisphere celebrations can be distinctly frosty, in Australia – if the weather is right – it’s balmy and still. NYE 2012 was just such a night. It had been a hot sunny day, a showpiece of summer, and by 9pm it was still about 21 degrees Celcius.

I would never have entertained the thought of doing it again except for a friend’s kind invitation to spend it on the 15th floor of her mother’s East Circular Quay apartment, which as can be seen from the accompanying photographs had spectacular views from the CBD and Circular Quay to the Bridge and up the Harbour as far as South Head.

Traversing the police road closures was quick and highly efficient and an official pass allowed a picnic basket crammed with champagne to proceed unmolested. Travel into the city was easy by train; and out again just as painless. It was the perfect demonstration of crowd control, how to disperse countless thousands of people quickly and without drama. Police, check-point security, public transport workers, everybody that could have been pissed off that they had to work such a major public holiday weren’t and those who could be expected to have attitude didn’t. At least as far as I could see, NYE in the Sydney CBD was one big love-in, brimming over with good humour and respect.

Blue-lit AMP Building with crwods along Cahill Expressway
Blue-lit AMP Building with crowds along Cahill Expressway

Sometimes, human nature can be a surprising thing. Consider the magnitude and you have the makings of a very special event.

Enjoy the photos. Oh, and Happy New Year.

Sydney Harbour Bridge get its own pyrotechnic display
Sydney Harbour Bridge gets its own pyrotechnic display
Sydney Harbour Bridge get its own pyrotechnic display
Sydney Harbour Bridge gets its own pyrotechnic display
Sydney Harbour Bridge get its own pyrotechnic display
Sydney Harbour Bridge gets its own pyrotechnic display
Sydney Harbour Bridge In Blue
Sydney Harbour Bridge In Blue
The Sydney Opera House and Farm Cove
The Sydney Opera House and Farm Cove
The Sydney Opera House and Farm Cove
The Sydney Opera House and Farm Cove
The Sydney Opera House and Farm Cove
The Sydney Opera House and Farm Cove

Words and photos © David Latta

Advertisements

Author: davidlatta

David Latta is an award-winning editor, journalist and photographer. His work has appeared in scores of Australian and international newspapers and magazines including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, The Australian Financial Review, The Courier-Mail and Travel & Leisure. During the last two decades, he has largely concentrated on travel and tourism, editing more than a dozen B2B titles and major conference and incentive travel publications. He is the author of critically-acclaimed books on such subjects as architecture and design, Australian history, literary criticism and music. These titles include Lost Glories: A Memorial To Forgotten Australian Buildings, Sand On The Gumshoe: A Century Of Australian Crime Writing, and Australian Country Music. He is currently working on a book about the nightclub scene in 1970s Sydney as well as a sprawling thriller set in Sydney during World War II. As an arts commentator, humourist and trend-spotter, his opinions are sought across the gamat of traditional and social media.

11 thoughts on “Smoke On The Water: New Year’s Eve 2012 On Sydney Harbour”

  1. We had to make do with telly. Still waiting for a friend with Harbour views. Coping with the surging throngs at Wynyard with a sleepy 3yr old in tow many years ago has left me chary of making the treck. Your pictures are spectacular.

    1. With telly, you get the countdown and soundtrack. If your watch isn’t set correctly, you can be wondering what’s going on. And they always send up a few fireworks before the official times, either for practice or to test wind direction. Or maybe just because they can. And done the surging throngs bit – luckily without a three-year-old although male partygoers have a lot in common – and this year was certainly the best managed I’ve ever experienced. Maybe next year you may wish to commandeer a three-year-old and try again.

  2. $5million is a lot, but when you divide it up between the million or so who turn out, it’s pretty good value. I just have this mental image of Kylie with a box of matches and a stopwatch. HNY

  3. Great photos – you certainly did have a brilliant vantage point! I have to admit – I miss the NYE Sydney crowds. Love that you can be out all night in the balmy temps. Went to the celebrations in Ottawa (Canada) this year and sadly, left before midnight! It was cold and the crowds were not nearly as jovial! I am also in firm belief that Sydney has one of the best fireworks displays in the world! I was there for NYE 2000 (luckily in an apartment similar to what you have described) and nearly cried with delight as the explosions just kept coming! Will never forget it!

    1. Thanks, Anita. for the comments. Love your blog as well – guys, check out the traveldestinationbucketlist blog. I think Australians in general and Sydneysiders in particular get a little blase about NYE fireworks. Being in the southern hemisphere, we’re lucky to have NYE fall in the middle of summer. Not sure it’d be quite so enjoyable in freezing conditions, rain and/or snow.

  4. I’m impressed by the grade of information on this site. There are a lot of fine resources here. I am sure I am going to visit this place again soon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s