12/31/2008 - 01/01/2009 90 °F
Sydney is an awesome place to be for New Year's. The Sydney Harbour New Year's Eve Fireworks are held every New Year's Eve over Sydney Harbor centering at the Sydney Harbor Bridge. They take place in two shows, a smaller show at 9pm (the show for the families) and the major show at midnight. Over 1.5 million people were expected to crowd around the harbor to watch the show. Sounded like a great way to ring in the new year.
One of the best ways to view the fireworks is to take a harbor cruise. But since those are booked completely 4 months ahead of time and cost ~$500, that was out of the question. We then thought we'd head to the Botanical Gardens (park right next to the Opera House) or to a park on the north side of the harbor so we could see the Opera House and Bridge when the fireworks were going off. However, both of those required you to get out and claim your space by noon and fight 20,000 other people for lines at the bathroom. Dawn began looking at other options and surprisingly the city provided several resources to help you figure out your New Year's plans. First they sent out mailers to everyone letting them know where people can go for the best views. They also provided a web site showing all modes of public transportation, location of toilets, and where the boats that launched the fireworks were going to be located. Here is a view of the map:
The red dot in the bottom left is the park next to our house. The Harbor Bridge is marked by the fourth blue fireworks symbol (and the largest road spanning the harbor). We toyed with the idea with just going to the local park to watch so we wouldn't have to fight the crowds, but we wanted to be as close as possible to the action. Dawn ended up calling our friends Rob and Hailey who have an apartment downtown near the harbor. They had a rooftop pool that we could hang out at until it got dark and then shoot down to the harbor. Rob and Hailey liked the idea, so we finally had our plan for New Year's.
I bought a case of beer for the men, Dawn bought some wine and champagne for the women. I made some shrimp and some chicken shish-kabobs. We slapped on some sunscreen (since it was HOT), put on our hats, and made our way to Rob and Hailey's place. We immediately when up to the pool, cracked open a beer, and began soaking in the rays. We met an Australia guy, Adam, and his Swedish girlfriend, Jenny, at the pool. They told us that we wouldn't be able to get close enough to the harbor if we tried to leave at 9 because the streets would be packed by that point. He invited us to come with him to a friend's place right near the bridge to watch the fireworks. It sounded like a fantastic idea, especially when he mentioned he'd buy us another two cases of beer and some wine to repay for the shish-kebabs we shared. We sat in the sun for another 6 hours, went down and showered, and then went over to watch the fireworks.
Adam was right, the streets were PACKED. We had to weave our way between thousands of people and finally reached the building where the party was being hosted. We got the security guard to let us up to the 6th floor and went in the party. Before I go into details about the party, let me say that Australians can be some of the nicest people. Adam had only known us for an hour before inviting us to come with him, the host of the party didn't know us at all, but everyone made me and Dawn feel extremely welcome (it probably didn't hurt that I was carrying a case of beer into a party either). I went straight out to the balcony to check out our view. It was great, we were only 200 yards from the bridge! We partied until the fireworks went off, and then partied late into the night.
We finally drug ourselves away from the party at 3am. It was going to be a long walk home, and I knew the longer we stayed, the harder is was going to be to get home. We walked back to George St and began looking for taxis. It was then I remembered, when looking at the vacant streets, that they had shut down the central business district for New Year's. There were no taxis, no buses, no cars, nothing. We were miles away from the rail stop we use to get home. We had no choice, so we started hiking. The streets were still teeming with people (borderline madhouse). An hour later we finally got home and slept like babies.