New Year’s Eve in Sydney is something that is on many people’s bucket lists and, although it wasn’t specifically on mine, it still helped me tick off another item in that I saw in the New Year on another continent.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t even remember putting half of these things on my bucket list but it makes sense; having already seen in the New Year in Barcelona and Dublin over the years I guess I wanted to take it to the next level and see it in on an entirely different continent. Maybe.
After our bizarrely warm Christmas period, the countdown was now focused on New Year’s Eve. There was just one minor problem: we didn’t have a bloody clue where to go.
Sure, we knew we wanted to see the fireworks – that much was decided. To go to Sydney for New Year and not see the fireworks would be like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower, or to Rome and avoiding the Colosseum. Our main dilemma was where to watch them. Obviously, the closer you get to the Opera House or the Harbour Bridge the better – but the tales of people camping out from the night before or arriving at the most popular places at 6am put us off a little.
In the end, we decided the best plan was no plan and headed out to the streets in the afternoon. Here we got chatting to a group of volunteers who were assisting in the New Year’s proceedings. One particular bloke gave us a helpful rundown of all the areas and in the end we plumped for Mrs Macquarie’s Chair which gave us a pretty epic view of the Opera House, the bridge and – of course – the fireworks. We did initially think that we should have taken his advice with a pinch of salt, as he gave us a rundown of the capacity of The Rocks which went a little like this:
Volunteer: “So you’ve got 40,000 people here, 30,000 here and another 8,000 over there, so that’s close to a million people already.”
Us (not wanting to make him feel bad): “Umm…yeah. Thanks.”
Maths aside, his advice actually turned out to be pretty good as the Chair was a great spot. They did, however, stop letting people in at 3pm which had its good and bad points. Obviously the earlier they shut the place the less crowded it’ll be – obviously a bonus. On the other hand, what the bloody hell were we supposed to do for nine hours?
I don’t think I need to tell you the answer to that one, do I?
The first port of call was – you guessed it – the bar! Our plan of action to avoid the queues was to buy as much beer as it was humanly possible to carry at one time. This plan was made even harder by the fact that they had to open every can before they handed it over to us, meaning we couldn’t put any in our pockets and – at $7.50 for a 330ml can – there was no way we were risking any spillages.
As a side note: the people behind the bar used spoons to open the cans which, as someone who struggles to not bite his fingernails, is an excellent tip!
Open cans meant that we naturally started to drink faster with Danny and Tom setting an impressive early pace on their ciders. James and I found ourselves taking on the role of parents (yes, really) and saying that they – especially Tom! – wouldn’t last the night if they kept on at that pace.
The beers carried on going down at a solid rate (supported by a variety of hot dogs, noodles and nachos) and we managed to kill an hour or two by playing ‘Heads Up’ on James’ phone. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it’s essentially a game in which one person holds the phone to their head and it displays a word or name on there and the others have to act it out. Charades for the 21st century, I guess.
Like any other game, it’s always more fun after a few drinks and we started to attract attention as our clues started to get more animated. We were jumping all over the place and shouting like a bunch of mentalists. Quite why nobody accepted our offer to join in was beyond me.
The ‘family’ fireworks came and went, as did the plane show and as midnight approached we set about finding a good spot for the fireworks. By that I mean standing by the media entrance and trying to irritate and bribe the security guard to the point where he’d just get fed up of us and let us in. Sadly it wasn’t to be and, despite James’ best efforts to bond with him over an imaginary game of cricket (James won), we found ourselves back to square one. Maybe if James had let him hit the imaginary ball for six we might have had better luck. Who knows?
After finally admitting defeat (or victory, in James’ case) we decided to just find a spot and wait around for the fireworks. What followed was the longest 45 minutes of my life, as the alcohol was starting to wear off a little and my feet were starting to bloody kill. I’m not used to this hard work.
In the end however, it was all worth it as the fireworks were truly spectacular. I’ve never been one who gets too impressed by fireworks (shock) but it’s hard to deny that these really were something special, as you can see from the video below.
After nine hours of waiting, countless cans of Carlton Draught, 12 minutes of fireworks and a boatload of memories, 2015 was finally upon us.