I absolutely love NYE. The feeling of a fresh year and the start of a new chapter has always excited me, plus, I’m a total fireworks addict, so NYE is perfect for me! I always suck at sticking to my resolutions – blog more and eat less has been a yearly occurrence since 2006 and never has it been achieved, fingers crossed for 2019! Since I was a kid, I’ve watched the new years build up on TV and the fireworks in Sydney always looked like one of the best. Knowing I was going to be in Australia this year, there truly was no other way to spend the end of 2018 than by taking a road trip up to Sydney for the new years celebrations!
Sydney did a great job of organising the night, as a simple Google search takes you to a Government website that lists all the best vantage points and events for the evening. Originally, I wanted to be on a boat cruising around for the fireworks, getting drunk to a bad wedding style DJ; but after realising they sell out in May and cost around $1000 per person for a decent boat, we decided we’d go for a free viewing spot instead!
A lot of the popular spots open at around 8am and have people camping out from the night before, so we settled for a less in demand location in exchange for a good nights sleep. It was a toss up between Dawes Point Park and Bradfield Park, both with food, bathrooms, grass, with views of the bridge and the opera house. No alcohol was allowed at either of these spots so we stuck to water and just got drunk off of the atmosphere.
We arrived at around midday – realising hours later that we’d got there WAY earlier than necessary. A lot of the good viewing spots were still empty at around 4pm, so we really didn’t need to rush at all! We’d heard so many stories from people that had done it before in other locations, that good spots go fast that we didn’t want to risk it, so we bought a blanket and a mini picnic and decided to make a day of it, rather than rock up later and potentially be stuck behind a tree with a crappy view of the show!
The only other major NYE celebration I’ve been to, was the ball drop in Times Square – which hands down was one of the most underwhelming experiences of my entire life! People camp out for over 14 hours to get the prime viewing spots – some even wearing diapers, as there are NO bathrooms available at all once you’re gated in. It’s freezing cold, there’s nowhere to get food, you’re sat on tarmac for the entire time and if you’re more than 4 blocks back from the ball (which we were) you can’t see or hear any of the pre-midnight show! When the ball finally drops it’s pretty tiny and although the fireworks and confetti were nice, the main elation was just from being able to escape from the tiny fenced off area you’d been stuck in for the past 10 hours!
I think I was so scarred with the memories of my Times Square New Year’s Eve that I never wanted to experience that again. Although it was still a pretty long day, it was an absolute joy to be sat on the grass in the sunshine with a picnic instead! After a few hours and a numb ass, you may think differently, but overall it was such a chill day and a great atmosphere.
The gorgeous Australian sun lasted up until around 7pm, when out of nowhere, the skies darkened, the weather predictions changed and the heavens opened. Torrential rain boomed down, soaking everyone and their picnic blankets and had us all running underneath the bridge for protection. This lasted for about an hour (although it felt like decades) and by the time it was done everyone was absolutely drenched. At least 25% of people left grumpily to go home, while the rest of us wearily headed back to our stuff to see what damage the storm had done. We rung out so much water from our picnic blanket that we probably could have had a bubble bath with it!
Because so many people had left and abandoned the incredible spots they’d saved since the early morning, us warriors that powered through the storm like contestants on Survivor managed to slip into their spots. We had soggy clothes and matted rat tailed hair but were still in surprisingly high spirits!
There was a pre-midnight show at 9pm for families who didn’t want to keep their kids up too late, which was a great motivator midway through the evening. Those last few hours was a challenging crawl to the finish line but we made it to the end, managing to see one of the best firework displays I’ve ever seen! We were super lucky to be right by the water – with a perfect view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House and city skyline, a view that we honestly couldn’t have topped. It was very weird celebrating NYE 11 hours earlier than my friends and family back home in the UK, it’s the first time I’ve been early to anything!
Getting back to our AirBnb was a nightmare, as the one thing Sydney seemingly forgot to organise, was transport, so the journey back was a total shit-show. There were claims it was due to the rainstorm, but their whole system was just bizarre. Naturally, getting somewhere when 40,000 people are all leaving the same spot – not to mention the other hundreds of thousands of people that were doing the same thing from elsewhere, is always going to be complicated. But, to have trains only running every 30 minutes, closing various stations that weren’t supposed to be closed and sending EVERYONE in the same direction just to go back on themselves was ridiculous! It took us over 2 hours to get back to our AirBnB that was 20 minutes away – you’d think that having a year to plan a popular annual event, that it would go a lot smoother.
Overall though, we had a great night and loved being able to tick NYE in Sydney off the bucket list. If I did it again, I’d definitely arrive in that spot mid/late afternoon rather than getting there as early as we did, and I’d definitely bring an umbrella just incase! If you decide to do the fireworks at one of the outdoor vantage points, make sure u bring sunscreen, blanket, picnic food, a good book and some games – it helps the time go a lot faster! 2018 was a great adventure for me and I can only hope 2019 is just as exciting.
Happy New Year!