With Jolene at the Domain Park.
Its here! After a hard week of drinking, staying in bed late and dragging ourselves to the beach and shops, the day we have been looking forward to finally arrives. We are up and ready for the day at a shockingly early 10.45 am, such is our dedication and excitement! Our plan is fairly straight forward, head to town early, go straight to the Harbour bridge which is the focal point for the celebrations, and walk around there until we find a good spot to watch the fireworks. We call on Sean and Jolean, our Northern Irish housemates who are going to be out with us for the day. They are still in bed when we are ready to go to town, at around 1 o'clock. Tsk. Some people!
We head to town for some food and to check what advice the Sydney city website has for the afternoon, and we read up on some potential viewpoints.
Happy 75th Birthday Sydney Harbour Bridge!
We could stand by the Opera House itself with a great view of the bridge, but its an alcohol free zone so that's not too inviting. We instead decide to have a look at the parks which are free in and have beer and food on sale, and some of them are said to have amazing viewpoints. We pick up the Belfast two on the way and we all share a bus to town around 5.30 pm. We had planned to get off at the Opera House, but the bus only runs to within a mile or so on days like New years eve, so we jump off and decide to walk thourgh the National Botanical gardens and see the view from there. We are not the only ones with this idea, as whats starts as a trickle soon ends up being a throng of thousands heading for the same spot. We realise why after about 20 minutes of walking, as we get our first spectacular view of the Opera House with the bridge to its right, and on either side the sky scrapers of the city framing the amazing view.
Fireworks by the Opera House.
Needless to say we decided this would do! We had a walk around the site which already had thousands of people occupying every vantage point. Everyone was in great spirits, with tennis balls and beach balls being thrown between the crowd and people in the boats out in the harbour, every successful catch bringing a loud cheer. Even bigger cheers came when the ball hit the water, and some crazy guy off a boat stipped to his boxer and hit the water to fetch it!! Mad Aussies. We eventually decided to just sit near the bar (Sean and Jolean's influence!) and wait for the first fireworks at 9 o'clock, just the kiddies ones. We ended up on some steps when they started, and they were very impressive, which made us think just how mad are the big ones going to be.
There was a Wizard of Oz theme, since Sydney is known as the Emerald city and of course, Oz being the term for down under. We nearly missed them, what with me queueing for the loo and other things, so we resolved to be ready for the next ones.
We drank and chatted some more until around 11 pm, when we decided to walk around and find a good spot to see the big countdown. This proved a little difficult at first since we were sharing the park with 25,000 others, but eventually we found a great spot between some trees where some people were camped out on the ground on blankets. Some of them were asleep, so I craftily wound my way in front of them and beckoned the others over. I didnt see their faces when they woke up to find us in front of them, but I could feel the frosty stares and daggers aimed in our direction.
The big finale, as the bridge, Opera House and the city's skyscrapers all come to life.
You snooze, you lose! We counted out the minutes and chatted to some of the locals, having good craic with a bloke from Canberra
about weather or not his city was worth visiting, which even he agreed it's not. Finally the big moment arrived and we counted down from about 6 to 1, and a big cheer went up as the fireworks sprang to life. The first ones were behind the Opera House with simultanious ones to our right so we had sound to match the colour. After a few minutes of this the bridge began to fire them off for a while and then stopped again, and just as suddenly the city lit up with thousands of fireworks coming off the skyscrapers and climbing high into the night.
About 3:30 am..nuff said!
The three alternated for almost fifteen minutes before the big finale, when the buildings, the bridge and the sky behind the Opera House suddenly bust into life. This happend all at once and was so bright that dispite being almost a mile away every face around us was suddenly lit up in the darkness, and a gasp from everyone was followed by spontanious applause and cheering. There was a further 5 minutes of light and colour and sound before the last firework climbed higher than all the others and exploded in a huge burst to raptorous applause, and it was over. You could hear the million people cheering from every park, street and boat in Sydney harbour, and it was another 5 minutes before this died away and we made our way towards the exits, completely exhilirated.
We headed with the thousands towards Oxford Street, and after one or two failed attempts we found a pub that was free in and open till the early hours. We spent a few hours chatting with locals and boozing before we headed home, and to a well deserved rest (although I did insist on phoning home...even though I was a bit messy! : ). It was about 3 the next day when my head stopped pounding enough to get me up, and we nursed serious hangovers until, well, this morning, a solid two days later. As I write this its the 2nd for us, and we are about to go home and pack as we head up the coast tomorrow. Our first stop is Coffs Harbour, supposedly a very scenic town and our hostel has free canoes and body board and bikes, so we should be doing some sight seeing.
Then we're not sure of the order but we should be seeing Bryon bay, Brisbane, Fraiser Island, Surfers paradise, Whit Sundays and one or two others as we make our way up to Cairns
. We have 3 weeks as we fly back from Cairns the 24th of Jan, and then on to Perth
within a week of that. So its all go again for the next 3 or 4 weeks! We had a BRILLIANT time in Sydney, and we are looking forward to the new year and new adventures. Happy new year to everyone, we will speak to you all soon!!!